liter DISI 3-cylinder
Press Release) Taking center stage
at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show is Mazda's latest design
concept, Mazda Sassou. Conceived and designed at Mazda's European
Design Center in Frankfurt, Germany, it is a lightweight, urban
vehicle for young, first time car buyers that makes every day city
driving fun, highly practical and economical. A sleek, three-door
hatchback, it employs evolved Zoom-Zoom exterior design language
with youthful lightness and surprising hidden features. These,
combined with advanced interior systems using a USB stick key and an
ingenious rear seat morphing system, hint at where Mazda might be
heading with a future B-segment vehicle.
Mazda Sassou is the first design concept from a unique approach to
show cars for Mazda Motor Corporation this year. At three major
motor shows - this year's IAA, the Tokyo Motor Show in October and
the 2006 North American International Automobile Show next January.
"This is the first of a
number of concept cars to be designed consecutively at our regional
design centers, namely: Frankfurt (Germany), Yokohama (Japan) and
Irvine (California)," says Moray Callum, Executive Officer in charge
of Design at Mazda Motor Corporation. "However, despite the design
environment in which it may be conceived, you will intuitively
identify that this is a car from Mazda. Its characteristics being
uniquely Mazda; reflecting the essence of Zoom-Zoom, something we
have communicated throughout the World".
"Mazda Sassou was designed to appeal to young, first car-buyers"
said Peter Birtwhistle, Chief Designer at Mazda Motor Europe GmbH.
"It is a look over the Mazda horizon and what it proposes is new and
exciting. It is the result of asking ourselves what stimulates young
Europeans today. We feel that they would ideally prefer a vehicle
that supports and expresses their lifestyle and at the same time
would meet the changing demands of the growing European B-segment.
Sassou, then, not only evolves Mazda small car design in a
lightweight, fun-looking B-car package, it also represents a new way
to express some traditional automotive attributes and provides a
first Zoom-Zoom driving experience for young buyers."
The name "Sassou" is a Japanese term that was chosen because it
means having a positive state of mind, of looking to the future with
optimism. On the horizon, then, is something positive and exciting.
Mazda Sassou is not only an advanced evolution of Mazda's Zoom-Zoom
design language, but is a symbol of the forward-thinking optimism of
the entire organization as communicated by its recently announced
Mazda Momentum business plan.
Exterior Design - Mazda Alive
"This was a great
project to realize," says Luca Zollino, Mazda Sassou lead designer
who also contributed to the Mazda6 MPS concept exterior design.
"Mazda's new-generation cars are exciting to look at with lots of
visual appeal. Having to keep our ideas within the brand's
parameters did not hold us back when we started evolving it. On the
contrary: having such a base gave us the right hints for putting
together existing and new strong design elements to emphasize
Mazda's design language and implement the brand identity."
The Mazda Sassou design concept is based in part on the "Shoji"
principle. Shoji screens are thin Japanese doors made of rice-paper
that partially hide what is behind them. Opening them for the first
time can reveal something surprising. This is also true of a first
encounter with Mazda Sassou. "The Shoji-like attributes of our
design hide and then suddenly reveal various things with an
illumination system that makes the car seem to spring to life," said
Masanori Minamisawa, Mazda Assistant Chief Designer now based at
Mazda's Design Center Frankfurt. "We call it Mazda Alive because the
lighting cascades and pulses like its being circulated by heartbeats
just below the surface of the car."
Mazda's latest design concept is an advanced interpretation of Mazda
stylishness that visually communicates dynamic potential so typical
of the brand, yet mixes this with a youthful lightness and
surprising hidden features never seen on a Mazda concept before. The
front of the vehicle is an evolution of the Mazda RX-8 with a large
five-point grille and fender treatment. The grille itself is an
adjustable cover raised out from the air intake on arms. This grille
cover can move in and out electronically - adjustable according to
vehicle speed, outside temperature and cooling system temperature -
optimizing the airflow to match the cooling system requirements. It
also contributes to the optimization of the aerodynamics of the
Surrounding the grille is a nose design that is strong and sporty
looking with a large Mazda logo framed by pointed, chevron shaped
Both the headlights and
the rear lamps graphics are integrated into the surrounding body
panels beneath translucent plastic treated in a way to match the
body color, which partially hides them when Mazda Sassou is parked.
They spring to life when the car is unlocked using indirect
illumination of the reflector, and the headlamps and rear lamps
function normally when activated using direct LED lighting. The
front and rear turn indicators also use direct LED lighting and,
when activated, make the design of the lamp graphics even more
striking. These "hidden lamps" are one of the concept's most unique
features and could indicate a new trend in exterior lighting design
in the future.
The silhouette is an evolution of Mazda's new-generation panelling
with three distinct body lines. One runs over the front wheel well,
and a second starts at the back wheel well and moves slightly
downwards towards the front wheel well, resulting in a futuristic
look at shoulder line level. Added to this are a slightly concave
door panel shape and a powerful side sill framed by 18-inch alloy
wheels that make the Mazda Sassou look light and sporty when seen
from the side. Mazda Sassou also has frame-less side windows in
light gray-tinted glass. The B-pillar is not extended up from the
side structure and there is no frame between the front and back
windows. When open, they create a single daylight opening that
enhances the overall sense of lightness.
Above this, is a dynamic and low 1370 mm high roofline, with the
roof itself as an extension of the front windshield made of glass in
the same light gray tint as the side windows. The glass surface
seems to sweep in a single piece up over the top of the concept
becoming narrower as it reaches the back of the car. Using glass for
the roof instead of metal enhances Mazda Sassou's light, agile
looking exterior, and allows for consistent exterior lighting in the
This glass roof is framed by wedge-shaped panelling over the side
windows. Combined with a C-pillar design that angles rearwards into
the boot area, they add even more lightness and dynamic movement.
"If you look closely, you will see that the side window frame, the
rear window and the boot design are variations on the Mazda
five-point grille shape," said Zollino. "These forms give the Mazda
Sassou even more lightness and a futuristic edge. Every major
surface in the body begins at the five-point grille in the front.
Giving the boot a five-point shape creates visual completeness so
that you seem to end, design-wise, where you began."
All these exterior design features result in a sleek looking B-car
concept that hints at Mazda Sassou's fun to drive nature. The design
employs the latest in aerodynamic techniques to enhance the overall
impression of Mazda Sassou's agile lightness. The door handles are
part of the side panels and rotate outwards when unlocked, then back
into the body panel when the door is closed. The side mirrors are
designed to offer as little wind resistance as possible and Mazda
Sassou's underbody is designed to reduce drag and combined with a
rear diffuser, enhancing the sleek and sporty look even further.
Interior - Mazda Insightful
The Shoji principle is
carried over into Mazda Sassou's interior, an experience that begins
when opening the door. The concept's interior systems are conceived
to be used with a universal serial bus (USB) stick key that
functions in place of a traditional key and includes a remote
central locking function. After unlocking, the concept springs to
life just beneath the surface of the exterior with light pulsing in
the front and rear lamps graphics and illuminating the door handles.
Opening the door reveals an illuminated USB port in the center
console glowing in a warm, red light. Inserted here, the USB stick
key controls all interior systems and causes a joy-stick control
lever to rise up. The system then comes alive, all systems are
activated and the vehicle can be started using an ignition button
next to the driver meter cluster.
"The USB stick key idea is the result of our targeting younger
drivers," said Mickael Loyer, Mazda Interior Designer, based in
Frankfurt. "We conceive the Sassou as having its own hard disc
drive, security code recognition and Mazda software for owners,
including a navigation program that could be downloaded onto the
vehicle's USB stick key. The owner could download the music he wants
to listen to that day, directions to his favorite pub or beach hang
out, using the USB stick key on his computer at home. When he
inserts it into the Mazda Sassou interface slot, it would then
automatically download onto the concept's hard drive."
The heart of the Mazda Sassou interior concept is an oval light at
the center of the lower instrument panel. Above this is a center
control screen that visualizes vehicle information. The interface
with the driver is intuitive, with the joystick used to navigate
into the menus and to select main functions. When a function is
selected, fluid light circuits illuminate a path to the selected
feature; say the air vents, in either the instrument panel or the
The interior itself has two bucket seats in the front connected by
an integrated armrest over the center console and a bucket-like rear
seating area for up to two passengers. Colors are monotone,
blue-green and light gray, made of soft high quality materials with
textural qualities chosen to reflect the illumination system in a
way that enhances the sense of the interior as being alive.
"By giving the seats a lighter color than the floor area, we wanted
to achieve a floating effect," said Loyer. "The seats seem to hover
in the center of the car and create a tangible sense of lightness.
This color scheme also enhances the interactive illumination system
and makes it even more effective, even more Mazda Alive."
Interior Functionality - Rear Seat
Mazda Sassou evolves the
Mazda tradition of providing insightful interior functionality and
practicality. An electric front seat fold system makes it easy to
get into and out of the back seats through the front doors. Pressing
one or two buttons located on the driver's seatback causes either
one or both front seats to slide forward and their seatbacks to tip,
allowing easy access to the rear seat area. The seats then return to
their original positions by pressing the buttons again.
Mazda Sassou also employs unique "morphing" rear seat functionality.
This uses compressed air to allow the vehicle to be formatted for a
three or four-seat configuration. By selecting 1 or 2 on a panel at
the back of the center console, the rear seat area can be converted
on demand. For one rear passenger, compressed air fills the sides of
the rear seating area to form a single seat in the middle. For two
passengers, air fills the seatback in the middle, forming two seats
on each side. The roomy center rear seating position provides the
rear passenger with a unique view and makes Mazda Sassou even more
fun to be in.
Mazda Sassou can easily be converted to a practical two-seater by
folding the rear seats into the floor, which forms a flat load floor
that is 1400 mm long, 1200 mm wide with approximately 1360 liters of
load volume (floor to ceiling). Combined with the rear hatch
opening, the Mazda Sassou is able to transport larger items without
having to remove any seats.
"The Mazda Sassou concept proposes a possible future B-car meant for
urban singles who commute on a daily basis," said Peter Birtwhistle.
"The exterior looks lightweight and aerodynamic; the interior is
flexible, high-tech and interactive. The USB stick key / hard disk
drive idea would allow you to configure its systems according to
daily needs in a really cool and futuristic way."
Powertrain and Environment -
Targeting Low Emissions (Flexible, Fun and Friendly)
The Mazda Sassou design
concept has been developed to support either a gasoline or diesel
powertrain of relatively small displacement. For this concept,
knowing that the target customer is likely to choose gasoline over
diesel and would be most interested in a high-performance engine
that is also environmentally friendly, Mazda's engineers have
envisioned an all-new, small displacement, three-cylinder engine.
Further, the engineers believe the Sassou concept should benefit
from Mazda's all-new direct-injection, spark-ignition (DISI)
With that in mind, Mazda's engineers believe a turbocharged,
three-cylinder, 1.0-liter DISI MZR powertrain would ideally match
the spirited and sporty nature of the Sassou concept. Flexibility,
smooth acceleration and plenty of torque are hallmarks Mazda's DISI
turbo engines. And when combined with the Sassou's advanced
aerodynamic shape and small, lightweight body, a three-cylinder,
1.0-liter DISI turbo with idle-stop technology could conceivably
contribute to a further reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 as
well as achieve class-leading driving dynamics that are
characteristic of the Mazda brand and its expression of Zoom-Zoom.
The powertrain would be finished off with a dry-typed twin-clutch
6-speed powershift transmission that is shifted using paddles on the
steering wheel, making it both fun and easy to drive in city
The Sassou's suspension features MacPherson struts in the front and
a torsion beam rear suspension system, along with Pilot Exalto
Michelin2 tires that achieve both responsive handling and improved