Unveiled in a form that doesn’t look terribly far from production-ready – though still sporting plenty of show car flair – the Kai Concept sets an appealing example for the humble Mazda 3 hatchback to follow.
Its unique U-shaped glass roof is obviously too far-fetched for a production car and that catseye-scraping front lip won’t survive many shopping centre carparks, but it doesn’t look like much will need to change to send the Kai’s basic form down the production line.
Shown at Tokyo to illustrate Mazda’s new direction for its Kodo design language, the Kai eliminates the fussier details and body lines of the current-gen 3 in favour of smoother curves and sheetmetal that appears to be pulled taut over the cabin, wheelarches and bonnet.
Mazda’s signature grille also expands in size, while the chrome bar that runs beneath it now pierces into the headlamps. Past experience with Mazda show cars suggests we can expect that area to be toned down significantly for production.
Inside, the Kai sports a less-is-more attitude to cabin design, with the infotainment display being integrated seamlessly into the centre of the dashboard while the centre console runs under the dash, rather than intersecting it.
A deeply dished steering wheel is there for the driver to hang on to, while a trio of gauges sit in front – with a tachometer in the middle as a nod to the car’s sporty attitude.
Measuring 4420mm long, 1855mm wide and 1375mm tall, the Kai Concept is shorter than the present-day Mazda 3 but significantly wider and lower. It stands on a longer wheelbase too, with 2750mm between its front and rear axles compared to the current car’s 2640mm.
The Kai is built on the next generation of Mazda’s scalable Skyactiv architecture, and powered by the ground-breaking supercharged compression-ignition Skyactiv-X petrol four-cylinder – both of which will make their showroom debut within the new Mazda 3.
Expect to see that car surface in production-ready form sometime next year, before going on sale in 2019.