Mazda Sassou Concept Woos Youngsters

Sassou, the new concept car from Mazda unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show is a vehicle aimed at the Play Station generation while featuring Mazda's latest new engine technology to keep emissions low.

According to Brit Peter Birtwhistle, who heads up Mazda’s European design team in Germany, it’s a car that really will appeal to the new wave of drivers brought up on home computers and text messaging.

"It’s one thing to have a small entry-level car and say it’s aimed at young drivers but you really have to think of what kids do and I think the car industry has been sleeping a bit when it comes to this.

"Kids are into new media and communications and this is what we wanted to get across with the Sassou."

Key to this concept is the USB key, a must with any computer these days. The key can be taken from the car and put into the PC at home where any necessary information can be uploaded or downloaded.

This includes satellite navigation destinations, music choice, air conditioning settings and even the position you would like the seat.

The Mazda Sassou concept features a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engine with turbocharged direct- injection spark-ignition (DISI) technology which boosts flexibility, smooth acceleration and plenty of torque. The concept also has idle-stop technology that cuts the engine when stationary – ideal for urban driving - which when combined with the Sassou's advanced aerodynamic shape and lightweight body could conceivably contribute to a further reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The design team has also gone back to a digital dashboard display although Birtwhistle acknowledged that people still wanted the dynamic display of variation they get with analogue instruments.

"To get around this we have added rings that expand outwards on the speedometer and rev counter to give the impression of increase or decrease in speed,"

The concept car features what Birtwhistle describes as "hidden surprises". Things like the concealed lighting system using translucent materials to mimic Japanese Shoji, or paper walls.

"We have not shied away from using plastics either," said Birtwhistle. "We wanted to show that they can be used in a very positive way, not just to keep costs down."

Alongside the Mazda Sassou concept on the stand at Frankfurt Motor Show was Mazda's current B-segment car Mazda2 that has seen a number of exterior design enhancements and improved equipment levels available in showrooms throughout the UK from January 2006.

Published 4 October 2005 Melanie Carter

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