The first thing many people notice about a car is its colour – only afterwards do form, design and details follow. A certain colour can give a car character, make it stand out or blend into the cityscape. And, perhaps even more importantly, colour choice gives customers the opportunity to express something about themselves or their relationship with the car. A relationship that is the very definition of Jinba Ittai, the oneness between car and driver which inspires all Mazda models.
Progressive colour schemes can be traced all the way back to Mazda’s early models. The company’s first mass-produced passenger car, the Mazda R360 Coupé, hit the market in 1960 with a choice of refreshing colours including mint green, sky blue and bright red, delighting customers with both the vibrancy and variety of colour options. The model even included a few two-tone options – a rarity for affordable microcars at the time. In the years that followed, Mazda continued to offer unusual and advanced colour choices for the whole line-up. Into the 1970s the Mazda colour palette featured lots of the bold colours the decade was famous for, as well as the brown and golds that are famously 70s.
So which colours prevail on the road today? That depends on where you go. Cultural traditions and values have a big impact on the popularity of colours in certain markets. Black, for example, was the second most popular vehicle colour in 2020 globally. But while more than 20 percent of newly registered cars come in this dark hue in Europe and Japan, the number is only 10 percent in South America and around 2 percent in India. White, on the other hand, tops the list in every region except one: Europe.
Here, another neutral tone has been gaining traction over the last few years: In 2020, 29 percent of new cars were grey. For some years now, the colour has enjoyed great popularity in fashion, technology and design, with no signs of a slowdown. Well-known fashion models have their hair dyed grey; the hashtag ‘Grannyhair’ has been used more than 360,000 times on Instagram. And American paint expert Pantone even chose ‘Ultimate Grey’ as one of its colours of the year for 2020. According to the company, the tone represents strength and resilience and stands for the search for truth, knowledge and wisdom. In uncertain times, it conveys a sense of consistency and security. Grey therefore manages to be both timeless and very modern, making it a perfect choice for a long-term investment like a car. As the demand for grey models remains strong, Mazda has expanded its range of grey tones to offer customers an even wider choice of grey. With the options ‘Polymetal Grey’ and ‘Machine Grey’, Mazda gives customers the possibility to share their passion for beautiful proportions, flowing lines and dramatic contours with a unique yet understated colour choice.
In the UK in 2020, 29 per cent of Mazdas sold were Soul Red Crystal Metallic, 18.6 per cent were Machine Grey, 11.3 per cent Deep Crystal Blue and 10 per cent Polymetal Grey.
Offering colour options from silky ‘Arctic White’ to ‘Jet Black’ – plus three multi-tone options for the Mazda MX-30 – Mazda is committed to giving customers choices that they can feel excited about – in every respect. Mazda’s water-based Aqua Tech Paint System reduces volatile organic compounds (VOCs), gases and small particles emitted during the painting process, while also bringing down CO2 emissions. Now, with some of the lowest levels of both VOC and CO2 emissions, Mazda’s Aqua Tech Paint is one of the most environmentally friendly automotive paint systems in the world. And for two signature Mazda colours, ‘Machine Grey’ and ‘Soul Red Crystal’, the company even developed a sophisticated new painting technique. Called Takuminuri, a combination of the Japanese terms for ‘master craftsman’ (Takumi) and ‘paintwork’ (Nuri), it allows the brand to mass-produce what appears to be a hand-applied finish by teaching the painting robots to imitate the techniques of its specialists. Combined with a premium body colour line-up, these innovations are Mazda’s way of celebrating the beauty of colour – in whatever shade it may come.
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.
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.
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.