Mazda Hakaze concept (2007) review | CAR Magazine

Mazda Hakaze concept (2007) review

Published: 12 February 2007 Updated: 26 January 2015
Mazda Hakaze concept (2007) review
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By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars

Another week, another new Mazda concept car…

I know what you mean. This is the Hakaze – that’s Japanese for leaf being blown in the wind – and it follows on from the Nagare shown at Los Angeles and the Ryuga at Detroit in Mazda’s line-up of ‘flow’ inspired concept cars. It makes its public debut as next month’s Geneva concept car, alongside the new Sassou-inspired Mazda 2. Rather than let the Mazda 2 steal the show, it’s wheeled out the Hakaze early for an excusive drive for CAR Online.

Isn’t the Hakaze yet another flight of fancy?

Well, it was inspired by the impossibly cool sport of kite surfing, but scratch beneath the veneer of sun, surf and sand, and the Hakaze makes plenty of sense. For a start it sits on running architecture. Beneath the Hakaze’s engaging sheetmetal sits a modified CX-7, with 100mm chopped out of its wheelbase. It’s powered by the same 260bhp 2.3-litre turbocharged direct-injection four-pot from the Mazda 6 MPS, driving the part-time four-wheel-drive layout through a six-speed automatic gearbox. And it’s been engineered to accept Mazda’s (and Ford’s) next-generation Euro V-compliant 2.2-litre turbodiesel, to meet European tastes.

That still doesn’t mean it’ll make it into Mazda showrooms. Will it?

‘I can see the Hakaze slotting in towards our current four-year production cycle,’ says James Muir, Mazda’s European boss. ‘So if I have anything to do with it, it will be arriving by 2010.’ Muir has plenty to do with the Hakaze – the concept car is his pet project and with his considerable clout behind it, looks likely to push ahead of the three-seater Kabura concept car in the race for production. It’ll be a world car, too, tapping into Mazda’s predicted growth in Japan, Europe and America for compact crossovers. Which means a lot of sales.

The Hakaze is an odd-looking thing, isn’t it? No doubt the production model will be dull as ditchwater…

With that thrusting five-point grille, LED lighting, camera wing mirrors, ‘sail-doors’ (that’s scissor doors to you and me), pillarless profile and full-length glass roof, it certainly looks pretty cutting edge. There are 1000 LEDs that take care of all the car’s exterior and interior lighting needs, and that one-piece rear windscreen, complete with tendrils that channel the brake and indicator lights, took three weeks of continuous machining to carve out of a single piece of perspex. Muir is pushing very hard to make sure these key elements make it through to production. ‘I want the scissor doors, the four-seater layout, the side cameras and the glass roof to make it through to production,’ he claims. ‘Otherwise what’s the point of doing these concept cars?’

I see the wheels turn. What’s the Hakaze like to drive?

If a 30mph trundle around a cordoned-off area of glass-smooth concrete is any indication, the Hakaze drives pretty well. Remember, this is a one-off concept car that cost about three-quarters of a million pounds to put together, and there’s still some work to do on the car before it’s craned up onto a plinth at Geneva, so Mazda’s suits were predictably cautious about letting us drive it. What did impress was the cabin layout and design.

Fair enough. So it’s pretty good on the inside, then?

Yes, in a word. The airy cabin really works. The driving position is highish and gives a good view out. Those four ‘floating’ seats are supported by adjustable alloy spars, so that when not in use the rear seats spoon up against those up front to boost the loadbay. It’s a simple storage solution, which explains Muir’s desire to keep the four-seater layout. Two removable glass roof panels clip out and can be stored in a tray that slides out of the rear bumper. Imagine that long centre console as a deep storage receptacle and you can see that it may be a show car, but some real design intelligence has gone into the Hakaze’s packaging. It’s also bigger than it looks, but park it next to a Mazda 3 hatchback and the Hakaze is only slightly bigger in all directions.

So, a very early preview of the CX-5?

That’s its logical position in the current Mazda line-up, but trying to pigeonhole the Hakaze irritates Muir. ‘It’s not a CX-5. No way. The Hakaze will be a genuine crossover, not some watered-down botch job. It will be far too radical to get the CX badging.’ The combination of Muir’s passion and the real-world applicability of much of the Hakaze’s design and packaging are promising. ‘Mazda has a solid line-up of volume sellers in the 3, 6 and MX-5, so we can afford to do these kinds of car,’ vows Muir. ‘I think of them as dusters to polish Mazda’s image.’ A tenner says those gorgeous scissor doors never make it, though.

Specs

Price when new: £0
On sale in the UK: 2010 (est)
Engine: 2261cc, 20v, four-cylinder, 260bhp @ 5500rpm, 280lb ft @ 3000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic part-time four-wheel drive
Performance: 0-60mph 7.0.seconds 135mph, 28mpg (est)
Weight / material: na/na
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4420/1890/1560

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  • Mazda Hakaze concept (2007) review
  • Mazda Hakaze concept (2007) review
  • Mazda Hakaze concept (2007) review

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars

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