Mazda's CX-9 is the company's largest vehicle to date and embodies the Kodo (soul of motion) design philosophy. First showcased by the Shinari concept car in 2010 and since evolved by the Miata, CX-3 and CX-5 models, Kodo is about "creating cars that embody the dynamic beauty of life," according to Ikuo Maeda, Mazda's Design Chief, "Cars that visually suggest different expressions of this energy."
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1) Like most SUVs, plastic sill-cladding is used to add toughness to the CX-9's stance and raise the visual center of gravity—the flipside is that the wheels can look a little lost; here 20" rims look merely adequate.
2) Refined greenhouse (side-glass) graphic has a hint of technical geometry at the c-pillar, adding tension to a softer overall form.
3) Generous hood proportion of Mazda's KODO philosophy finds perfect balance with the large CX9 volume.
4) Volume forward of front wheel is generous but chiseled detailing and crisp surfacing balance it perfectly.
5) Subtle yet strong shoulder section adds muscle to the rear haunches. Less toned than the KOERU concept, there's still real visual definition here...
6) Largest Mazda grille yet manages to look intricate and strong—3D depth takes volume out of the front 3/4 of the car adding real purpose to the front-end.
The CX-9 achieves that most difficult of design challenges—clean and toned surfacing with very little unnecessary visual distraction. Yet it's an expressive, emotional form; a masterclass in dynamic and refined design language.
Ed Stubbs is a Senior Lecturer in Automotive + Transport Design in the UK tasked with nurturing tomorrow's superstar-designers to embrace the challenge of future mobility. He was previously employed at Nissan/Infiniti European Design studio, Ford in Design + Product Innovation, Bertrandt and Cooper Standard Auto. You can read more from Ed on his blog at faced.wordpress.com