► Mazda Kai five-door hatchback
► Advanced SkyActiv-X tech
► Revealed at Tokyo 2017
If you want to know what the next Mazda 3 will be like – due on sale in 2019 – look no further than the company’s second Tokyo concept reveal in as many days.
The tell-tale compact hatchback proportions of the Kai concept have been clad in a svelte, minimalist body bereft of extraneous creases and lines with a really distinctive and curvaceous C-pillar/tailgate section.
Poking our nose inside the cabin on the stand, the interior looks extremely close to production as well. If the basic shape follows through to production relatively unscathed – and it looks like it could – the design will ensure the 3 stands out in a crowded and very mature segment.
There's plenty going on underneath, too
The technology underneath the bonnet is potentially stand-out too, featuring Mazda’s next-generation Skyactiv-X petrol engine which promises 'the free-revving characteristics of a gasoline engine with the fuel efficiency, torque and fast initial response of a diesel unit'.
Unofficially a Mazda spokesperson reckons it could equate to a 30% improvement over the firm’s current 2.0 petrol engine through proprietary technology un-snappily called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) and sends a signal out that Mazda sees considerable life left in internal combustion engines, if suitably optimised.
As a Mazda spokesman told CAR: 'We don’t believe electric is the only answer. If you measure ‘well to wheel’ whole-life emissions this engine can match EVs in certain countries [where most electricity is created by coal-fired power stations]. We will launch an EV in 2019 and a plug-in hybrid by 2021, but it’s about having a range of options.
What else is new?
The Kai also showcases the next generation of Mazda’s Skyactiv Vehicle Architecture which promises a stiffer chassis set-up for a more agile driving experience. At the same time Mazda said the car’s ride will be improved, partly through new tyres with less stiff side walls – which can then act as shock-absorbers to the benefit of comfort.
The production version of the Kai is expected to be shown in late 2018 for a 2019 on sale date, and will be the first Mazda to feature the new Skyactiv-X engine – and the world’s first commercial petrol engine to use compression ignition – before rolling out across the range after that.
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