mazda and microcars: how adorable R360 coupe shaped mazda's design DNA

mazda and microcars: how adorable R360 coupe shaped mazda's design DNA

the japanese brand might be celebrating their 100 year anniversary in 2020 but it was 60 years ago that one model in particular set the benchmark for mazda and microcars at large. priced at just 300,000 ¥ (around $830 USD), the small, adorable mazda R360 coupe was more than a city car; it was stylish, efficient and, above all else, fun to drive. these characteristics went on to define the brand’s DNA, and still does so today.

mazda and microcars: how adorable R360 coupe shaped mazda's design DNA
all images courtesy of mazda

 

 

the mazda R360 coupe was not the first kei car (microcar) but quickly became the most popular in japan. unlike competitors within the 3 x 1.2 meter size segment, the car enhanced a more efficient four-stroke engine with two 360 cm 3 V-cylinders, which, despite only producing 12 kw, propels it to a top speed of 56 mph (90 km/h). this power, combined with an incredibly low weight of just 380 kg, made it the lightweight four-seater in the world at the time.

mazda and microcars: how adorable R360 coupe shaped mazda's design DNA

 

 

the model conceived mazda’s gram strategy, which is their ongoing obsession with containing mass. aluminum elements, from its hood to engine valves, were integrated throughout and even a rear window made from specially developed plexiglass was used to help reduce weight. without a frame, its monocoque structure furthered its weight reduction, even improving safety, ride comfort and reducing vibrations. the result was extremely engaging and fun to drive, and reflected the brand’s jinba ittai spirit, which is defined as the connection between driver and car.

mazda and microcars: how adorable R360 coupe shaped mazda's design DNA

 

 

as well as its lightweight design, driver engagement and affordability, the mazda R360 coupe captured hearts with its aesthetic style. as a first, the microcar resembled an elegant coupe rather than an essential city car. its combination of fluid surfacing and sharp geometries set precedents for the brand, and is noticeable in the designs of some of their other classics including the cosmo 100S, luce R130, RX-7 and RX-8. today, its influence has evolved into their kodo design philosophy that has crafted the recent CX-3 and concepts RX-vision and vision coupe. after 60 years, the characteristics of mazda are still the same: stylish looks, lightness, joy of driving, and affordable.

mazda and microcars: how adorable R360 coupe shaped mazda's design DNA

 

mazda and microcars: how adorable R360 coupe shaped mazda's design DNA

 

mazda and microcars: how adorable R360 coupe shaped mazda's design DNA

 

 

product info:

 

brand: mazda

model: R360 coupe

world premier: 1960

location: tokyo motor show

  • Please re-issue! You were 60 years ahead of your time. I need one! Or two!!

    Amanda Salles
    Apr 07, 2020
  • Surely it’s time to spark the spirit of this little beauty back into life like Citroen are doing with their electrified Ami?

    Mark Wijesinghe
    Mar 13, 2020
  • Why do you not sell this Mazda here?
    You would sell millions of units of this car and if you make it in Los Angeles there are no importing fees.

    DianaLeff
    Mar 09, 2020

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