Mazda Ryuga concept | CAR Magazine

Mazda Ryuga concept

Published: 09 January 2007 Updated: 26 January 2015

Mazda Ryuga: is it a bird? Is it a plane?

No, but it’s inspired by nature – including birds – and it’s as smoothly surfaced as any jet fighter. Rather, the Mazda Ryuga is a honey-sweet concept car that is probably the best-looking thing at the Detroit show. It’s part two of new Mazda design boss Laurens van den Acker’s quartet of concept cars that preview the forthcoming new design language. Part one – the Nagare – was shown at the Los Angeles show a few months back. Part three is unveiled at Geneva in March, then the climax comes at the Tokyo Show in October.

So does it preview a new production car? A small coupe for instance?

Not exactly, though don’t be surprised if a forthcoming RX-8 successor shares many of the design genes. Van den Acker’s design philosophy is based on ‘flow’ (Nagare is Japanese for ‘flow’ and Ryuga apparently means ‘gracious flow’). It’s all about movement and distinctiveness, and is based on natural shapes and phenomena. I know this sounds a bit mother earth-ish, but the unusual side textures were inspired by peaceful ripples caused by a breeze over a pool of water. The headlamp shape resembles the flow of morning dew dropping from bamboo leaves. Flowing lava inspired the tail-lamp design. Put into plain language, Laurens says: ‘I want Mazda to be the equivalent of the prettiest girl or boy in the room. We haven’t got a noble heritage and we haven’t got rich parents. So design is what’s going to set us apart. It’s not about aggressive design. Rather, it’s about beautiful elegant design.’

Anything else of interest?

The cabin is also funky – a curved sofa rear seat, deep front buckets and a ‘floating’ centre cluster. Don’t rule out the possibility of Mazda one day launching a small hard-top coupe using Ryuga DNA. Nobody knows how to make commercially successful sports cars better than Mazda. Mazda is doing some good designs right now – the 3, 6, RX-8 and MX-5 are all pleasingly different. If the Ryuga is anything to go by, the company’s design distinctiveness may be about to move up another notch.

By Gavin Green

Contributor-in-chief, former editor, anti-weight campaigner, voice of experience