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2006 Mazda Kabura Concept

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Mazda Completes Trilogy with Kabura Concept

Mazda arrived for Detroit's North American International Auto Show
The Kabura Concept, a junior sports car, was the star of Mazda's display at NAIAS. (Photo: Jonathan Yarkony, American Auto Press)
in style with the production CX-7 crossover, recently introduced at the LA Auto Show, looking almost panel for panel true to the MX-Crossport Concept, which was introduced a year ago. It's toned down for sure, but still muscularly curvy and aggressive with great overall presence. Mind you, the interior lost a few of the higher tech elements, the futuristic centre stack and IP, plus the floating seats mounted on monorails, for example. The interior still looks fabulous, but it is easy to overlook considering how great the sporty ute looks on the outside. Credit the compact Tribute for giving Mazda a presence in the SUV market, but the CX-7 just screams Mazda, something the Tribute never did. Shockingly, despite how good it is, the CX-7 was not the star of the Mazda's Detroit stand.

The star that shone brightest was the Kabura concept, unveiled by Franz von Holzhauzen, who led the project as Mazda's director of design at it's Irvine, California design studio. After Mazda's European studio focused on a flexible and economical city car concept with the signature Mazda zoom-zoom in the Sassou, and the Japanese studio created a rakish, ethereal and sporty cruiser in the Senku, the American design house went for a project with seemingly more immediate application.

Whereas
It may not be the most powerful Mazda, but, like the MX-5, it's light, nimble and sure to bring smiles. (Photo: Mazda Canada)
the European and Japanese pushed the envelope as far as it could possibly go within the context of their particular regional influences, Holzhausen and his California designers focused on the resurgence of compact, high-performance sports models (350Z, IS 350, Mustang, Civic Si Coupe to name a few). So while the Kabura may not have seemed like something out of a Batman comic book, the idea that its design seems very applicable to a new model is much more exciting than the sheer flights of fancy that the pioneering Senku and happy-go-lucky Sassou represent.

The Kabura seems to already fit in with the Mazda family, next to the stylish and varied 6 lineup, the compact, efficient 3, the slightly hyper, yet practical RX-8, the reborn MX-5 roadster and the aforementioned CX-7. Mazda even has a nameplate they could resurrect that both fits in with their new alphanumeric naming scheme, and its traditional, rear-wheel drive 2-door coupe configuration: the RX-3.

So are we looking at a future RX-3? Or as some have theorized,
Aggressive, low-slung styling, bulging fenders, rippling hood... the Kabura has all the trademarks of a true sports car. (Photo: Jonathan Yarkony, American Auto Press)
donate the RX-8's Renesis rotary engine for a possible RX-7? Mazda's lips (not that Mazda really has lips, but you know what I mean) are sealed for now, although the concept shares components with the MX-5's chassis, a critical hit that could only be improved by a hardtop structure and a few extra inches in wheelbase.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter 16-valve DOHC four-cylinder engine, routed to the rear wheels through a six-speed gearbox. That doesn't really sound very 'conceptual', but the three projects were all originally designated as pure design concepts, and so it seems the Americans took everything more literally than their international counterparts, who conceived of micro-displacement turbocharged engine for the Sassou and a rotary hydrogen powerplant for the Senku. Or, as I like to look at it, we already have the underpinnings in place for the "MX-3" I am so looking forward to driving. I only hope Mazda can also squeeze the 2.3 DISI turbocharged unit from the Mazdaspeed6 and CX-7 into the engine bay. Then, as with the 3, 6 and RX-8, Mazda could once again upset the apple cart and bring new magic to new segments and new drivers.