The first step in realising the exterior design was to produce a 2/5th sized model, based on the finalised sketches, that was sculptured by the design team in Oberursel by hand using clay. Parallel to creating this clay mock-up, the colour and trim team, lead by Maria Greger, had produced an exterior surface in Dynoc film, which could be pasted onto the model and removed without damaging the surface below.
“The 2/5th model was one of the most important steps,” said Birtwhistle, “since it was the first time we got to actually see the concept. The eye perceives real objects differently than drawn objects, so this was the first time we actually had something we could work with.”
The model already contained many of the Zoom-Zoom features that help make Sassou immediately recognisable as a Mazda, including the front end which is an evolution of the Mazda RX-8 with a large, sporty-looking five-point grille and bonnet. However, the model also had its unique Sassou bumper design, which would later receive the chevron-shaped front lights as an integral part of the concept’s 'Mazda Alive' illumination system. The European design team was now ready to present the model to Moray Callum and the changes he suggested at this point were carried out by hand on only one side of the model.
Once these changes were incorporated, a 3-D scan of this side of the model was made using point-cloud data. Advanced computer software then created an exact mirror image of the scanned side for the other side of the Sassou. This computer image of the concept with all changes was then used to mill a full-sized version from a rough “form block” covered in thick epoxy resin.
The full-sized model was then reviewed in one last approval session with a further developed exterior colour in Dynoc film, which could be removed so the team could fine tune the exterior design by hand. This exterior version of the concept was then frozen as the final version. It was then cast for final fibreglass production, from which body panels were made, painted and fitted to the chassis.Unique Lighting
Mazda Sassou’s unique 'Mazda Alive' illumination system is based on the “Shoji” principle and was one of the team’s more fruitful ideas. Shoji screens are thin Japanese doors made of rice-paper that partially hide what is behind them. Opening them for the first time can reveal something surprising. Realising 'Mazda Alive' had ramifications for the entire process of developing exterior and interior design elements, as well as the concept’s unique use of materials.
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