Chief Designer Shinichi Isayama talks about the all-new Mazda CX-5

In March, the all-new Mazda CX-5 celebrated its European premiere at the Geneva Motor Show. In this Mazda Insider, Chief Designer Shinichi Isayama talks about the story behind the design of the car.

The All-New CX-5 has a magnificent design – how would you describe it and what was your objective?

The new design is based on the KODO design philosophy which I’m sure all of you already know. What we’ve done with this new car is we’ve evolved the KODO in a one-step-further design which means we refined the current design and this was our aim what we wanted to achieve.


What shall the design express? Are there any special characteristics?

What we aimed with the design of the CX-5 was to express the ‘Car as Art’ at a glance, so we wanted to express this beauty at a glance. What is embedded in the design is mainly the esthetics of Japanese beauty and it is also about trying to express the warmth that you get from the design being handcrafted.

If you look at some the cars you can see at current motor shows, it feels like the overall design trend gets more digital and inorganic, a bit robotic like something you could see in science fiction movies. But what we aim to express in our design is something that gives you a sense of a human touch and makes you feel the vitality of life.


What is your favorite design highlight at this car? Can you tell me one detail in the design that you love?

At this point I want to highlight two parts of the all-new CX-5: the front feature where we’ve tried to give the CX-5 a more human look on the facial features related to our aim to create a more refined and sophisticated design compared to the first-generation. The second part is about the whole interior with its high-quality feel and the real refined craftsmanship. I hope that when people will have a look and can feel the interior they could have a sense of what we’re trying to express.

What kind of resonances did you receive regarding the design? And what was your favorite comment about the All-New CX-5?

If you look at how we’ve introduced the CX-5: first of all it was unveiled in the US and then we’re introduced it successfully in global markets, but what had happened in between is that people had no chance to see the car in person. All the information they could get were from photos and videos and that gave them an advanced impression of the car, but a photo can’t convey exactly what this car looks like; it wasn’t representative of what the car is.

And on one hand this is related to our new colour “Soul Red Crystal” because when you look at it directly the human eye can perceive the full expression of this colour with its depth and vitality. This is something what photos can’t translate very well. And on the other hand if you look at the form of the car, you’ll see it’s very sensitive and there are many fine details which is something that can be only perceived when you see the car directly in person.

So what I would recommend to people is to feel and see the car in person to receive the full experience of this design.


SUVs like the CX-5 are very popular this time which means nearly every automotive manufacturer offers one. From your point of view: What is the difference in the design to Mazda’s competitors?

I think this is also related to the answer of the first question. If you’re looking at the car design that is coming out recently from other car manufacturers, I feel that the design is based on adding elements – that’s the way other car manufacturers designing their cars. But what we are trying to do is to pare down what is not necessary so that we can eventually reveal the pure beauty. This is an expression of Japanese esthetics; we call it ’less is more‘, which means a bit to reveal the pure beauty by taking away parts. This is something where you can hopefully see the relationship between the CX-5 and the RX-VISION because both cars were developed at the same time.

How did you feel when you were asked to be chief designer for the all-new CX-5?

I get asked this question a lot but whether it’s a small or a large project, my role doesn’t change because what I want to do is bring more appeal to what I’m going to design. My role is to express artistically something which could really capture and engage people when they look and feel the car. So that role does not change depending on a project, so I took it seriously and I tried to do the utmost that I could.

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