|The Mazda Kazamai.|
Mazda Motor Corporation used the Moscow Motor Show (28 August-1 September) to debut its Mazda Kazamai concept car—an implementation of Mazda’s current ‘Sustainable Zoom-Zoom’ strategy. The Kazamai concept crossover showcases how Mazda could combine its aggressive design with 30% improved average fuel economy and fewer emissions than current production models.
Russia has rapidly emerged as an important global market, and may pass Germany to become the largest auto market in Europe this year, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC (PWC). (Earlier post.) Between 2004 and the end of 2007, Russia’s automobile market grew by about 1.28 million cars. During this same period, Mazda increased sales from 8,565 units in 2004 to more than 50,000 units last year.
One of the country’s biggest segments is the sports utility vehicle (SUV), representing nearly 16% of the total sales volume in 2007. Between 2004 and 2007, the segment became 10 times larger and this growth is expected to continue over the mid-term in Russia. Mazda’s mid-sized sports crossover SUV, the CX-7, has been on the market for less than a year in Russia and has already found more than 7,900 customers—easily Mazda’s largest market for the CX-7 in Europe.
The Mazda Kazamai concept car addresses the growing popularity of SUVs in Russia and gives a strong hint at where Mazda might be going with a compact crossover SUV. It is meant to appeal to young, upwardly-mobile Russians with a strong sense of style and urban lifestyle demands.
Despite its powerful exterior look, the Mazda Kazamai concept’s aerodynamic performance is achieved through a flat floor panel, a rear diffuser, and a low roof line. The aim was to make the Kazamai’s aerodynamics more than 10% better than other vehicles in its class.
To reduce the bodyweight, Mazda leveraged CAE applications and focused on four major areas: collision safety, handling, NVH, and strength. At the same time, lightweight materials and new processing/joining technologies were leveraged to support the use of aluminium or aluminium-alloy is used for the bonnet, chassis and engine block. The designers aimed to make it 100 kilograms lighter than similar models by employing plastics for the panels, fenders and the engine cover. These features also contribute to advanced handling and improved fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
The ideal match for the Mazda Kazamai concept, says Mazda, would be a next-generation 2.0-liter direct injection gasoline engine, which Mazda engineers are currently developing. Mazda Kazamai will feature a DISI (Direct Injection Spark Ignition) engine based on the current Mazda CX-7, with advanced technologies to minimize energy loss and improve thermal efficiency. Mazda’s next generation 2.0-liter DISI gasoline engine also has combustion control technology and variable valve control that deliver strong torque throughout the revrange for excellent engine response as well as superior fuel economy. A next-generation catalyst also ensures superior emissions performance.
This engine is coupled to a lightweight and next-generation compact six-speed automatic transmission that is highly responsive and delivers the direct feel of a manual transmission, and four-wheel drive for superior traction. In combination with Kazamai’s next-generation aerodynamics and its lightweight body, this powertrain would deliver an estimated 30% improvement in fuel consumption and emissions (versus the current MZR 2.0-liter gasoline engine) without compromising driving pleasure, says Mazda.