HIROSHIMA, Japan — Mazda is embarking on a new, bolder styling direction that will come to market next year in the face-lifted Mazda3 sedan.
The overhaul will create a stronger "front face," a more unified design language and more eye-catching proportions across the lineup, said Laurens van den Acker, Mazda's design chief.
Van den Acker has been working on the new look since he took the helm of styling at Mazda in May 2006. The Mazda3 is the first revamp he has supervised fully.
"Within the next three years, you will start to see my cars on the road," van den Acker said in an interview here at Mazda Motor Corp. headquarters. "One of the advantages of being a small company is that we can afford to be a little more provocative."
The provocative new look will emphasize:
- A more distinctive five-point, shield-shaped grille for all models.
- Flowing styling in details such as side panels.
- Silhouettes sporting longer wheelbases and shorter forward overhangs.
Van den Acker said the changes will help strengthen the brand.
"We need to stay consistent with the message," he said. "Mazda is good at getting new customers to our brand but not so good at retaining them."
Not that Mazda design has been in shambles. The Ford affiliate has some of the most pleasing designs on the road right now — thanks to Moray Callum, van den Acker's predecessor. Last year Callum moved to Ford Motor Co. as head of Ford's passenger-car design division.
Van den Acker has some big shoes to fill.