Painting Mazda’s unique colour history

When you look at any car, one of the first things you will notice is its colour. In the belief that “colour is an element of form”, Mazda’s focus on developing colours that highlight the beauty, quality and uniqueness of its Kodo design aims to evoke the same feelings as appreciating a work of art. With a reputation for striking exteriors and award-winning design, Mazda has led the way to bring the beauty of its car design to life through a selection of premium paints that use advanced technology to highlight exterior shape and beauty in a uniquely Mazda way.

The latest evolution of Mazda’s unique design philosophy – Kodo: Soul of Motion – aims to breathe life and personality into every vehicle. With dynamic shapes that capture the very instant energy becomes motion, flowing body lines that show off the nuances of curves are highlighted by the shifting reflections from the interplay of light and shadow, developing a paint to match this is a complex craft in which designers work relentlessly to stretch the possibility of paint and scrutinise the ideal colour.

Mazda’s approach uses advanced paint technology to create colours with rich depth and radiance that highlight every sensuous curve and line of a car, while also ensuring to reduce the environmental impact of the painting process in keeping with the brand’s long-term Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 vision.

In a process called, Takuminuri (Takumi: master craftsman, Nuri: painting), cutting-edge painting robots use data obtained through simulation painting with Mazda’s best craftsmen to replicate traditional techniques to give mass-production vehicles a precise, high-quality and hand-sprayed finish which enhances the beauty and sophistication of Kodo design. Starting with Soul Red Metallic and later Machine Grey in 2016, the three-layer structure comprising of clear, translucent and reflective coats with aluminium flakes allowed Mazda designers to achieve colour brightness and depth at the highest level.

Building on the Takuminuri technology and with the idea to create the “world’s most beautiful red” to symbolise the Kodo: Soul of Motion philosophy, Mazda designers studied how people perceived colour and light and translated this ideal red into numerical values based on ergonomics to spray with Mazda’s Aqua-tech system. Not wanting to add a fourth layer of paint due to its environmental impact, Mazda design experts challenged convention to combine light-absorbing flakes along with high-brightness aluminium flakes in a single paint layer to create more depth and saturation while retaining its low environmental credentials.

Accounting for 26.5 per cent of UK sales today, the introduction of Soul Red Crystal Metallic in 2017 represented an evolution of Mazda’s design and innovation to achieve more stunning levels of transparency to highlight the beauty and quality of Kodo design’s dynamic body shapes. Boasting an increase of approximately 20 per cent greater colour saturation and 50 per cent more depth than the already popular Soul Red Metallic, the development of Soul Red Crystal achieved precisely controlled reflections which produced more vivid highlights and even deeper shadows for a fresher, lustrous appearance.

Throughout Mazda’s history, the brand has always led the way in paint technology and colours. From the iconic bright colours and two-tone paint finishes to highlight the dynamic forms of Mazda’s first passenger car, the R360 Coupé, to paints such as ‘Grand Prix red’, ‘Corn Yellow’ and ‘Impulse Blue’ on the 323 to appeal to chic European couture in the late ‘70s. Not forgetting the world’s best-selling sports car, the Mazda MX-5 has had an array of limited-edition colours to match its popularity and presence on the road since 1989. With editions such as the ‘British Racing Green’, the distinctive orange and green ‘Le Mans 24’ livery and most recently the exclusive Racing Orange body paint available for the 30th Anniversary Edition, the Mazda MX-5’s paint continues to embody its stylish and fun to drive character.

New for this year, the 2020 Mazda CX-5 and 2020 Mazda MX-5 both feature Polymetal Grey for the first time. Exclusively offered on selected models across the range, the newly developed Polymetal Grey Metallic paint combines bright aluminium flakes and opaque pigment, fusing the hard appearance of metal with plastic’s characteristic glossy smoothness. The colour’s tonality changes depending on the light, accentuating the car’s beautiful form.