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2007 Detroit Auto Show: Mazda Ryuga Refines Nagare Theme

Detroit Concept Furthers Los Angeles Nagare
Back at the LA show in November 2006, Mazda showed a concept called Nagare to LA audiences (click here for our report). The Nagare (pronounced na-ga-reh) described future Mazda design themes as an expression of where Mazda styling might be in 2020. In Los Angeles, Mazda promised to follow it up with concepts at Detroit and Geneva in 2007 that would gradually grow closer to something we’ll see in showrooms soon. Mazda delivered the goods in January 2007 with Detroit’s Ryuga concept.


Nagare is one of more than 100 Japanese words describing the embodiment of motion, fitting for the first Mazda to explore their new surface language, and also the general name of Mazda’s new design philosphy. The second concept is the Ryuga (“ree-yoo-ga”). And, you guessed it, ryuga is another Japanese word for motion, this time “gracious flow.”

Mazda described the differences between Nagare and Ryuga as similar to the difference between a custom-tailored, one-of-a-kind suit, or haute couture, and a ready-to-wear prĂȘt-a-porter garment. Ryuga has a very similar overall shape to Nagare, but with a taller greenhouse and more realistic, yet still show-car, interior. Ryuga took a more traditional seating approach, with two front passengers and an enveloping bench for the rear passengers, versus Nagare’s potential 1-3 seating layout. Mazda gave away more information about the Ryuga’s powertrain than they did with Nagare, but barely. The front-wheel-drive Ryuga was powered by a “2.5L MZR E85/Gasoline FLEX FUEL” engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. MZR indicates it is from Mazda’s four-cylinder family, but potential power ratings were not given.


Ryuga kept the basic idea of large wheels at the corners, aggressive wedge shape, and a wind-swept look of the Nagare. The lines running along the side of the Ryuga start at the front wheels and easily guide your eyes over the back wheelwheel and wrap around to blend into the rear. But Ryuga’s lines are nearly as tall as the door and were said to be inspired by Japanese dry gardens called karesansui, where carefully raked pebbles look like gentle ripples caused by a breeze over water. Ryuga’s headlight shape is said to resemble the flow of morning dew droping from bamboo leaves, and advanced LED and fluorescent tube technology may enable such a dramatic shape to ultimately even reach production. Both the taillamp shape and the exterior color were inspired by flowing lava. The lack of exterior rear-view mirrors was addressed by cameras at the forward edge of the roof molding, with the images transmitted to a center cockpit display screen. Even if the headlight shape can be retained with LED lights, we’re a long time away from replacing traditional mirrors with a camera image.

Nagare’s style, as described by Mazda, was “a dream or an emotion that’s just beginning to take shape.” With Ryuga, Mazda added some definition. Both concepts used gullwing doors for easy access to the interior, though these doors seem larger than would be practical in the real world.

While the Nagare concept was a function-follows-form approach, the Ryuga concept shows that the basic concept might be able to adapt to the functional requirements of a car, and does stay true to the themes and shapes laid out by Nagare. But with the Ryuga being so close to Nagare, yet clearly evolved if you put them next to one another, will the next concepts seem less dramatic? By time the first production vehicle wearing these forms arrives, it might just seem commonplace.

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