Mazda is set to debut their Minagi concept at March’s Geneva Auto Show, and that’s significant for two main reasons: it’s the first use of Mazda’s latest Kodo design language, and it’s the first baby SUV under the Mazda brand that isn’t simply a warmed over Ford. It’s significant for reasons beyond this as well, but make no mistake: the Minagi is Mazda’s way of telling the world they’ll be just fine without Ford. Given disappointing sales of the Mazda 2 and all but nonexistant sales of their current compact SUV, the Tribute, Mazda badly needs to generate some excitement over upcoming products, and the compact crossover segment is a great place to start.
The Minagi will also benefit from Mazda’s Skyactiv engine, transmission and platform technology. The Skyactiv engine features direct injection and high compression for maximum performance, fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, and will be built in both gas and diesel variants (although it’s unclear if we’ll see the oil-burning version on this side of the pond). The Skyactiv transmission will come in both manual and automatic versions, and both are designed to be lightweight and promote fuel efficiency. The Skyactiv platform promises to reduce weight while enhancing overall vehicle safety.
There’s no word on if the Minagi will be built or what platform it will use. My guess is that it will see production as soon as Mazda can finalize the design, and I’m also guessing that it will use Ford’s C-platform architecture. Ford may have distanced themselves from Mazda, but they’re not averse to making money by selling their former partner components. I may be ambitious with my timeline, but I suspect the Minagi (or whatever the name will ultimately become) will hit in late 2012 as a 2013 model.