Mazda SASSOU Design Concept Vehicle

 Mazda SASSOU Design Concept Vehicle
Mazda SASSOU Design Concept Vehicle

To be Unveiled at 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show

Press Release

To be Unveiled at 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show


Taking centre stage at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show is Mazda's latest design concept, Mazda Sassou. Conceived and designed at Mazda's European Design Centre in Frankfurt, Germany, it is a lightweight, urban vehicle for young, first car customers that makes every day city driving fun, highly practical and economical. A sleek, three-door hatchback, it employs evolved Zoom-Zoom exterior design language with youthful lightness and surprising hidden features. The use of translucent plastic that disguises the head and rear lamps, advanced interior systems using a USB stick key and an ingenious rear seat morphing system, hint at where Mazda might be heading with a future B-segment vehicle.


Mazda Sassou is the first design concept from a unique approach to show cars for Mazda Motor Corporation this year. At three major motor shows - this year's IAA, the Tokyo Motor Show in October and the 2006 North American International Automobile Show next January.

"This is the first of a number of concept cars to be designed consecutively at our regional design centres, namely:
Frankfurt (Germany), Yokohama (Japan) and Irvine (California)," says Moray Callum, Executive Officer in charge of Design at Mazda Motor Corporation.  "However, despite the design environment in which it may be conceived, you will intuitively identify that this is a car from Mazda.  Its characteristics being uniquely Mazda; reflecting the essence of Zoom-Zoom, something we have communicated throughout the World".


"Mazda Sassou was designed to appeal to young, first car-buyers" said Peter Birtwhistle, Chief Designer at Mazda Motor Europe GmbH. "It is a look over the Mazda horizon and what it proposes is new and exciting. It is the result of asking ourselves what stimulates young Europeans today. We feel that they would ideally prefer a vehicle that supports and expresses their lifestyle and at the same time would meet the changing demands of the growing European B-segment. Sassou, then, not only evolves Mazda small car design in a lightweight, fun-looking B-car package, it also represents a new way to express some traditional automotive attributes and provides a first Zoom-Zoom driving experience for young buyers."


The name "Sassou" is a Japanese term that was chosen because it means having a positive state of mind, of looking to the future with optimism.  On the horizon, then, is something positive and exciting. Mazda Sassou is not only an advanced evolution of Mazda's Zoom-Zoom design language, but is a symbol of the forward-thinking optimism of the entire organization as communicated by its recently announced Mazda Momentum business plan.


Exterior Design - Mazda Alive


"This was a great project to realize," says Luca Zollino, Mazda Sassou lead designer who also contributed to the Mazda6 MPS concept exterior design. "Mazda's new-generation cars are exciting to look at with lots of visual appeal. Having to keep our ideas within the brand's parameters did not hold us back when we started evolving it. On the contrary: having such a base gave us the right hints for putting together existing and new strong design elements to emphasize Mazda's design language and implement the brand identity."


The Mazda Sassou design concept is based in part on the "Shoji" principle. Shoji screens are thin Japanese doors made of rice-paper that partially hide what is behind them. Opening them for the first time can reveal something surprising. This is also true of a first encounter with Mazda Sassou. "The Shoji-like attributes of our design hide and then suddenly reveal various things with an illumination system that makes the car seem to spring to life," said Masanori Minamisawa, Mazda Assistant Chief Designer now based at Mazda's Design Centre  Frankfurt. "We call it Mazda Alive because the lighting cascades and pulses like its being circulated by heartbeats just below the surface of the car."


Mazda's latest design concept is an advanced interpretation of Mazda stylishness that visually communicates dynamic potential so typical of the brand, yet mixes this with a youthful lightness and surprising hidden features never seen on a Mazda concept before. The front of the vehicle is an evolution of the Mazda RX-8 with a large five-point grille and fender treatment.


Surrounding the grille is a nose design that is strong and sporty looking with a large Mazda logo framed by pointed, chevron shaped headlight graphics.


Both the headlights and the rear lamps are integrated into the surrounding body panels beneath translucent plastic treated in a way to match the body colour, which essentially hides them when Mazda Sassou is parked. They spring to life when the car is unlocked using indirect illumination of the reflector, and function as normal headlamps and rear lamps when activated using direct LED lighting. The front and rear turn indicators also use direct LED lighting and, when activated, light cascades around their edges in a way that is both unique and functional. These "hidden lamps" are one of the concept's most unique features and could indicate a new trend in exterior lighting design in the future.


The silhouette is an evolution of Mazda's new-generation panelling with three distinct body lines. One runs over the front wheel well, and a second starts at the back wheel well and moves slightly downwards towards the front wheel well, resulting in a futuristic look at shoulder line level. Added to this are a slightly concave door panel shape and a powerful side sill framed by 18-inch alloy wheels that make the Mazda Sassou look light and sporty when seen from the side. Mazda Sassou also has frame-less side windows in light grey-tinted glass. The B-pillar is not extended up from the side structure and there is no frame between the front and back windows. When open, they create a single daylight opening that enhances the overall sense of lightness.


Above this, is a dynamic and low 1370 mm high roofline, with the roof itself as an extension of the front windshield made of glass in the same light grey tint as the side windows. The glass surface seems to sweep in a single piece up over the top of the concept becoming narrower as it reaches the back of the car. Using glass for the roof instead of metal enhances Mazda Sassou's light, agile looking exterior, and allows for consistent exterior lighting in the cabin.


This glass roof is framed by wedge-shaped panelling over the side windows. Combined with a C-pillar design that angles rearwards into the boot area, they add even more lightness and dynamic movement.


"If you look closely, you will see that the side window frame, the rear window and the boot design are variations on the Mazda five-point grille shape," said Zollino. "These forms give the Mazda Sassou even more lightness and a futuristic edge. Every major surface in the body begins at the five-point grille in the front. Giving the boot a five-point shape creates visual completeness so that you seem to end, design-wise, where you began."


All these exterior design features result in a sleek looking B-car concept that hints at Mazda Sassou's fun to drive nature. The design employs the latest in aerodynamic techniques to enhance the overall impression of Mazda Sassou's agile lightness. The door handles are part of the side panels and rotate outwards when unlocked, then back into the body panel when the door is closed. The side mirrors are designed to offer as little wind resistance as possible and Mazda Sassou's underbody is designed to reduce drag and combined with a rear diffuser, enhancing the sleek and sporty look even further.

Source: Text & Photos courtesy of Mazda Motor Corporation
Published Aug 30, 2005 3:02 pm
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