Mazda puts "flow" into new version of minivan

Mazda Motor will unveil its re-engineered and re-designed Mazda5 at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, aiming to underline its green credentials as it goes up against other vehicles in the same class.

Competition will come in the shape of Toyota Motor Co.'s Wish and Isis, as well as Honda Motor Co.'s Stream - all of which are classified as compact multi-purpose vehicles - but Mazda has high hopes for the latest incarnation of the vehicle known as the Mazda Premacy in Japan.

The new vehicle incorporates the cutting-edge i-stop idling stop system, which pauses the engine - rather than halting it entirely - when in traffic, for example, improving the fuel economy at the same time as reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by as much as 15 percent over its predecessor. That makes it one of the most environment-friendly minivans in its class in Europe, Mazda says.

The car will also have a direct injection gasoline engine, alternative powertrains and a redesigned interior that includes a second-row center seat that can be converted into a storage space.

The company is equally proud of the "emotional design" of the new vehicle, which it claims blends elegance with a dynamic spirit. The car will be the first production model to fully incorporate Mazda's "Nagare" - meaning "flow" - design philosophy, which is based in the beauty of flows that appear in nature.

First expressed in a series of concept cars, Nagare has enabled Mazda's designers to achieve improved aerodynamic characteristics as well as a reduced drag coefficient and lift balance.

"In a single model, we offer the competitive eco-performance necessary to address current market trends together with our distinctive, emotional design," said Hideki Matsuoka, the Mazda5 program manager.

The updated vehicle will be available in Europe from this autumn, although no release dates have yet been set for the Japanese or North American markets. Mazda also has a close eye on the booming Chinese auto market and stated that it intends to expand its 2010 sales in China by 22 percent to 220,000 units.

The Geneva Motor Show opens to the press on March 2 and to the public between March 4 and 14.

JR

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