Perhaps it's a good thing Mazda didn't show off its brand-new Shinari concept at the 2010 Paris Motor show. After looking at the car in person during its world auto show debut in Los Angeles, we're confident this sleek sedan would have stolen the show.
Unlike other concept cars on display here in L.A., the Shinari does not point directly to a forthcoming production vehicle -- but it does set the stage for Mazda's new design language. The company may have become known for its Nagare (or "flow") look, but newly installed design director Ikuo Maeda wanted to push things even further, creating what Mazda refers to as its Kodo (or "motion") design ethic.
"Don't get me wrong -- there was nothing wrong with Nagare," Derek Jenkins, design director for Mazda North America, said during the automaker's press conference. "But [Maeda] wanted to move the brand in a much more mature direction."
We'd argue Maeda's team succeeded. Despite using a 2.0-liter I-4 and basic suspension components (such pedestrian mechanicals commonly underpin show cars designed to be viewed, not driven), the Shinari has a profile and presence more akin to a premium luxury vehicle -- think Maserati Quattroporte or Fisker Karma -- than anything Mazda currently manufactures. Still, certain cues, notably the crisp front fenders, keystone grille, and domed hood, help the car retain its Mazda DNA -- which is exactly what Maeda was aiming for.
"My goal is to create designs that people can point to proudly and say 'This is a Mazda design," Maeda said. "My ultimate goal is to create a brand presence that car lovers around the world recognize as representing both Mazda and Japanese originality.
Would we like to see Mazda push something like this into production? Absolutely, but we highly doubt a four-seat, premium luxury car is in the company's immediate plans. Instead, look for a number of cues to inspire -- if not appear -- in the company's future designs, possibly including the next-generation Mazda6.
Stay with Automobile for all the latest news from the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show.