Specialist Stories

Development of the all-new CX-5: Part 1

The goal was driving pleasure and smiles for all on board

Mazda wants to bring its unique form of driving pleasure to all who ride in its cars and help create a deeper relationship between cars and people. This is the spirit in which designers and engineers approached development of the all-new CX-5. But it was never going to be easy to improve upon the first-generation model, which has developed an excellent reputation.

In this seven-part series, we take a behind-the-scenes look at the development of the all-new CX-5, meet the men and women who took on this difficult task and discover some of the challenges they faced along the way. In this first installment, Masaya Kodama, the program manager* who led development, gives us an overview of the process.
*As of June, 2017

 Masaya Kodama, all-new CX-5 program manager

Masaya Kodama, all-new CX-5 program manager

We want our customers’ catchphrase to be, “No Mazda, No Life!”

The original CX-5 has earned high acclaim since its launch in February 2012, receiving about 90 awards around the world (as of May 2017), including Car of the Year Japan 2012-2013. Global production topped one million units in April 2015, a mere three years and five months after production began in November 2011. Introduced just as the SUV market was experiencing rapid growth, the CX-5 quickly became a core model in Mazda’s global lineup.

The first-generation CX-5

The first-generation CX-5

“You might ask why we chose to do a complete redesign now,” said Kodama. “Well, the CX-5 has been acclaimed around the world, and with the global trend toward SUVs the model has become even more important to our lineup. On top of this, Mazda wants to offer our latest designs and technologies to customers at all times.”

Masaya Kodama with a prototype CX-5

Masaya Kodama with a prototype CX-5

“Given this backdrop, we decided it was time improve on this important model by updating the design and installing our latest technologies. We wanted to attract a lot of repeat buyers and further enrich the lives of our customers.”

CX-5

Instead of butting heads, departments worked together to find creative solutions

The goal for the new CX-5 development project was an SUV that delivers deeper levels of driving pleasure. Mazda wanted to deepen the relationship, not just between car and driver, but between car and passenger as well, and make spending time with the CX-5 a pleasure for all concerned.

The starting point for realizing this goal was getting everyone involved to understand the aims and agree on a shared vision of what the new CX-5 would become.

CX-5

Key members of the development team brought together large groups of employees at every major milestone to talk about development concepts and the kind of customer they were targeting. A number of briefings were held at Mazda’s headquarters in Hiroshima with as many as 1,500 staff members in attendance.

CX-5

And such efforts were not limited to Japan. Engineers travelled to key markets to give preliminary overviews of the model and explain development concepts, and worked with their overseas counterparts to create value for Mazda customers. This provided an opportunity for people in development, production, sales and overseas operations to gain a deeper understanding of the ideal they were working towards and the issues that stood in their way.

Working on CX-5 development overseas

Working on CX-5 development overseas

As a result, the all-new CX-5’s story is free of the kind of interdepartmental clashes that often occur in the process of commercial product development. With everyone working toward the same ideal, the team was able to work together to find creative solutions to the obstacles they faced, rather than butting heads or succumbing to compromise.

In a meeting with the development team

In a meeting with the development team

What could account for the team’s tireless energy and refusal to compromise in pursuit of their vision?

Kodama explains: “It’s not enough to make one successful model. By applying a consistent development philosophy across our entire product lineup, we aim to make Mazda an irreplaceable presence in the lives of our customers. In other words, we don’t want customers to choose us on the merits of a specific model, we want to become the one and only brand they will consider buying. We want our customers’ catchphrase to be, ‘No Mazda, No Life!’”

For Mazda, the all-new CX-5 is just another milestone on its journey toward the realization of this dream.

CX-5

The next installment in this series shines a light on the design process for the all-new CX-5.

Click here for more episodes in this series.