Mike Stevens | Jun 24, 2010

Mazda's chief of design in Europe has confirmed this week that the Japanese carmaker will soon move away from the 'Nagare' design language, a styling direction that gave us Mazda's smiling grille and sharp swooping lines.

Speaking with British magazine Auto Express, Mazda Europe Chief of Design Peter Birtwhistle said that while the styling carried a 'wow' factor for the brand's futuristic concepts, it had been difficult to translate to production models - particularly the new Mazda5 (not offered in Australia).

“Nagare is done. After the 5, it’s highly unlikely that there will be another nagare car. Mazda has moved on,” Birtwhistle said.

With Nagare's creator Laurens van den Acker departing for Renault last year, it now falls to Mazda's new chief designer Ikuo Maeda to determine the look of the Japanese carmaker's next-generation range - likely beginning with the Mazda6, the oldest model in the current line-up.

Interestingly, Mazda - the only one of Japan's bigger international brands no longer offering a separate luxury line-up - appears to be pushing for a more upmarket feel for its future models.

Birtwhistle said that Maeda and Mazda management are looking to turn the brand into "a Japanese Alfa Romeo, producing cars which are great to drive, but crucially that also have the right premium feel, particularly inside."

He added that a number of different concepts are in the works already, under the working title of "thrusting motion" - a phrase that carries connotations in the west that may not have been apparent to the brand's Japanese management.

The winning concept will reportedly debut at the Paris Motor Show this year, where former design boss Laurens van den Acker is also expected to reveal the future styling direction of new employer, Renault.

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