2008 Geneva Motor Show: Mazda Taiki Design Concept Capturing the Wind
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A highlight of this year’s Geneva Motor Show is the European premiere of the Mazda Taiki. This is the fourth of Mazda’s exciting new concept cars to reflect the Nagare “flow” design and is surely one of the most breathtaking ever produced by the company. Representing a possible future generation of sports car exterior, with next generation rotary engine technology, it visualises the natural flow of air and literally captures the wind.
- Further evolution of Nagare “flow” to express the movement of air
- Extremely aerodynamic, with zero lift and a next-generation rotary engine for low environmental impact
- Avant-garde interior with unique forms, materials and illumination
In reflecting Nagare flow, the team under the direction of Taiki’s Chief Designer, Atsuhiko Yamada, chose to create a design that “visually expresses the flow of air” and took as their inspiration Hagoromo robes worn by a celestial maiden of Japanese legend who could fly. To achieve this, the team not only created various design sketches, but even soaked cloth in plaster and hung it up in the wind to try to capture the motion of the air in solid form. The result is a fusion of both body form and flow lines etched into the concept’s exterior that not only capture the wind visually, but minimises body volume and makes the concept seem like it is floating on air. This is enhanced by special “flowing motif” tyres, LED illumination at the grille, along with side signal and rear lamps that seem to shine through the body colour called Ozonic Silver and are only visible when lit – which creates the illusion of flowing air being transformed into light.
Extremely Aerodynamic with Zero Lift
Mazda Taiki’s exterior is not just a designer’s flight of fancy; it is also extremely aerodynamic. It is wider at the front than at the back to cut through the wind like an arrow, and it has an underside that rises dramatically at the rear for low drag under the vehicle. It also has unique rear wheels set out from the body shell that channel air flowing from the front fender through a tunnel between the wheels and the rear wing. When the team put the concept through wind tunnel testing, they were amazed at the results: a drag coefficient of just 0.25 and zero lift. When combined with Mazda Taiki’s stretched coupe form, front engine rear-wheel drive layout and a next generation rotary engine (see Chapter 6), you have a concept that – were it to ever be produced – would use low amounts of fuel, achieve low levels of CO2 and still provide an exhilarating Mazda-style driving experience.
Conceptually, the interior of Mazda Taiki was created using the design theme of Koinobori – Japanese for the decorative climbing carp streamers that float in the skies over Japan in May. As a consequence, the “flow of air” motif is continued on the inside with heavily sculptured flow lines that create a unique, almost organic interior that still manages to be light and airy, partially due to Taiki’s transparent roof. This roof is reinforced by a body-structure truss frame with flowing contours that are repeated in the design of the steering column and driver’s seat frame, the later visible due to a clear elastic silicone plastic used for the cushion and the seat back.
These non-symmetrical avant-garde forms are nicely balanced by a symmetrical use of colour that divides the interior into two black and white halves. The seats are leather and have flowing calligraphic strokes painted on them using a new technique that allowed an artist to visually capture a sense of air-flow using a brush. Taiki’s unique cockpit is fronted by a dashboard that twists in a dynamic way and continues on the cushion of the driver’s seat. The independent seatback and headrest have designs that create a sense of floating lightly on a breeze. Surrounding the driver on each side is a row of red LEDs that function as a futuristic tachometer by visually reflecting engine rev in light that pulses from front to back.
Advancing the Human-Machine Interface (HMI)
In some recent vehicles, like the all-new Mazda6 just launched in Europe, Mazda increased its use of HMI technologies to put more vehicle control systems on the steering wheel and enable drivers to spend more time concentrating on the road. Mazda Taiki proposes an advanced level of HMI that could make communication between the driver and his or her vehicle even easier. It features multi-control switches for respective systems integrated into the rotary-inspired design of the steering wheel, and has a multi-display that provides the driver with a variety of information.
Mazda Taiki – Specifications
|Seating capacity||2 people|
|Engine||Type||Next Generation RENESIS|
|Transmission||Type||Dry twin clutch 7-speed power shift|
|Suspension (Front/Rear)||Type||Double wishbone|
|Tires||Type||195/40 R22 YOKOHAMA ADVAN Super-E spec PROTOTYPE 007|