Hazumi: Mazda’s little lightning bolt

Fans of subcompact hatches have reason to cheer Mazda's Hazumi Concept at the Geneva motor show, as the little car injects life into a too-often moribund category of dreary econoboxes.

The car embodies the latest interpretation of the company's much-admired Kodo design language, with its emphasis on flowing musculature and prominent grilles that convey heft and substance that is commonly lacking among such small cars.

The Hazumi's lines would bring real attention to the next-generation Mazda 2, if it is an accurate representation of the company's plans. "It is a rational conclusion," said Mazda's US design director Derek Jenkins.

"The Mazda 6 was more about being stretched out," he noted referring to the brand’s mid-size sedan. "The Mazda 3 was more athletic-looking. And this car was about getting condensed energy, with a really short rear overhang, longer front end and a really big grille."

Given the constraints of the subcompact category, "it is easy to end up with a lot of mass stacked up", Jenkins said, which can make otherwise zippy-looking cars appear tall and ponderous.

No coincidentally, considering the popularity of diesel engines in Europe, Mazda also debuted a new 1.5-litre edition of its Skyactiv-D diesel-burning engine family. The company promised abundant torque and outstanding performance, but offered no specifications.

As for the Hazumi, Mazda has had a history dialling back the virtuosity of its recent Geneva concepts – the Minagi crossover and Takeri sedan come to mind – so it is not a foregone conclusion that the next 2 will remain faithful. Here’s hoping Mazda plays against type.