Live from CIAS: Mazda concepts

By Nauman Farooq

In the past, you could always count on Mazda to bring some wild and imaginative concept car that was likely to never see the light of day.

Mazda RX8 Hydrogen RE

Mazda RX8 Hydrogen RE

Things have changed this year though. While Mazda is still showing some ‘concept’ cars, these cars have their roots firmly planted in their production models.

First up are the concepts based on the upcoming Mazda2. The Mazda2 will be the entry-level model in their line-up when it hits the showrooms in late 2010, but entry-level doesn’t have to mean boring, hence the three modified versions at the show.

They are named, 2EVIL, ACTIVE2 SURF and ACTIVE2 SNOW.

The theory behind the 2EVIL concept is to present a car that has a dual personality. This one is part urban commuter and part weekend racer. With its lowered stance, ground-effect body kit and track-biased tires, it looks set to turn every journey into a time-trial.

If you’re wondering why the 2EVIL is sporting the number 55 on its rear flanks, well that has some history behind it. Mazda is the only Japanese car manufacturer to have won the grueling 24-Hours of LeMans endurance race, and the car that won that (the 787B quad-rotor Group-C prototype racer) was wearing the number 55.

The other two concepts based on the Mazda2 are aimed at completely different lifestyles. The ACTIVE2 SURF is aimed at the beach surfer crowd, while the ACTIVE2 SNOW is aimed towards those who like to play in a much colder environment.

These concepts however are not very convincing, because all Mazda seems to have done was to fit a roof rack and some fancy wheels on the standard model. Plus, wouldn’t the SNOW version have made more sense if it was actually wearing proper winter tires?

However, show goers at the 2010 Canadian International Auto Show will get some idea about the customizing potential of this new pint-sized Mazda.

Of more interest however is the Mazda RX8 Hydrogen RE, which made its Canadian debut at this years show. This might look like any other RX8, and like all RX8’s it has a rotary engine. This one though runs on hydrogen rather than premium petrol. Mazda has been testing hydrogen propulsion since 1991, and with successful tests on public roads in Japan and Norway, they are inching ever closer towards a greener motoring future.

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