The face of Mazda

With self-publishing what it is today, it is easy to poke fun or critique designs.  Cars are probably among the easiest targets.  Cars often exhibit some of the most adventurous changes in design, but there are always some designs that should not have happened.

Sheet metal forming technology took a great leap forward in the first decade of the third millennium.  All of a sudden designers can do things to thin-gauge auto bodies that in past decades they might have only dreamed of doing.  Now we see designers putting creases and curves everywhere.  Frequently we see these doodads of design where they ought not be.  And sometimes new capabilities produce astonishing design.

I love Mazda vehicles; I have owned two.  The first was a 1992 Protege purchased new, in which I had more fun than my BMW 320i and then there was the 1999 Miata.  The Miata was not as tossable as the lowered and re-shocked Protege.  But it was a fun vehicle none the less.  I continue to follow Mazda developments.  As the new Mazdas have come out in the last decade or so I have been saddened to see Mazda do some things with auto design, well, it appears for no other reason than because they could.

The front end-heavy CX-5 is a good example of a mis-proportioned automobile design.  I have borrowed this image from Mazda to illustrate my point.  Now part of the problem is the car cannot decide what it is.  This alone is sometimes a disturbing trend in car culture, but someone has to push the envelope, so no foul with the intent really.  But the problems with this design are twofold.

Mazda must dump the grinning vehicle look.  It is a caricature of a car.  The look demeans car design.  It makes a wonderful brand a joke.  All the designers know there is something really wrong there.  But not only have they made this mistake because no one had the guts to raise their hand and say they did not want to go zoom-zoom in a clown face, they have propagated this look to almost every model in the lineup.  Please.  Stop.  The whole front of the car is too long and too heavy, mis-proportioned.  I will not get into the C pillar which many other brands also continue as a violence against good design by juxtaposing disagreeing lines.  Oh wait, I just did.  Sorry.

But wait, there’s more.



On the CX-9, Mazda have actually made and maintained a beautiful C-Pillar.  It flows and returns to elegant design.  But the frontal area of the CX-9 transformation actually provides evolutionary evidence of their current trend of proportional malfeasance.  Witness the 2007, 2012, 2014 and 2016 transformation of the CX-9.   From the upper left image, in 2007, respectable if somewhat reserved grille.  But in 2012 the grin begins.  2014 sees the adoption of the clown fascia.  And 2016 gives us the full-on heavy, “I don’t know what I am anymore” look, with a very low chin.

Of course, all of this can be reactified… by a savvy and courageous designer. [jk]

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