( Worldcarfans ) - When Mazda presented the MX-Crossport concept car at the 2005 Detroit Motor Show, feedback was so universally positive that the design team, under the direction of Chief Designer Iwao Koizumi, went to work almost immediately to build a production version - the Mazda CX-7. And the design story of this unique vehicle was in part European-inspired.
One personal experience that Koizumi-San used to develop his design from a global perspective was his first encounter with European sports cars. "I have a memory from when I was a boy, not quite ten years old. I saw the 1967 Le Mans 24-hour endurance race and I remember being rooted to the spot as a Ferrari P4, Porsche Carrera 10 and Ford GT40 Mk. IV came round the track in a dead heat. When I became old enough to drive, that amazement grew into respect for the European car culture. This feeling is infused into the Zoom-Zoom ethos I bring to designing cars now."
The CX-7 development concept was to deliver a "Sport Crossover SUV," so the team began by consolidating the definition and image of a sports car. Koizumi had the young designers get together and think about all the design themes that make a person feel "this is a sports car." It is interesting to note that the images produced by the young designers clearly drew a lot of influence from Europe, where there is a well-known and enduring sports car tradition. Needless to say, there are so many genres and conventions that the image of a sports car can vary greatly from person to person. "I believe that through our research we managed to come up with a universal definition of a sports car" adds Koizumi, "that would be loved by drivers around the world. I believe this is deeply connected to the successful design of the CX- 7."
The resulting combination of form and design language transforms the CX-7's larger proportions using a host of features to signify its sporty credentials. Its A-pillar is steeply angled and flows seamlessly into the roof line, which then breaks downward relatively early, over the B-pillar, to slope into the D-pillar and short rear end with spoiler. Other sporty design cues include a kick-up beltline and deep character lines over the bonnet, which are placed slightly inward to make room for muscular front fenders. At the rear, round elements (lamps and large tailpipes) that have been praised for three decades on Italian sports cars are also included.
Mazda CX-7's interior design also features sports car appeal, created in part by touches like a speedometer scaled to 240 km/h, a leather steering wheel and shift knob. The driving position, with a wrap around cockpit and a high mounted gear shift, was inspired by studies of modern European sports car interiors.
Design, then, contributes much to making Mazda CX-7 the "sports crossover SUV." It combines the timeless appeal of European sports car design - it wears its athletic suit of clothes with the same fashionable sophistication as the Mazda RX-8 icon with its large mouth, eyes and powerful shoulders - with the interior roominess, comfort and quality of an SUV. Add Mazda's high-performance DISI engine and superior build quality and you have Mazda at its innovative best.
The CX-7 goes on sale in Europe from August 07.