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

  • 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 says:
  • 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 says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
LOG IN
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

PRODUCT LIBRARY

a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

technology news

×
keep up with our daily and weekly stories
504,237 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample
designboom magazine