Mazda's Sassou concept set to shake up the establishment in Frankfurt

Though Mazda displayed the concept version of the MX-Crossport at Frankfurt, a car that is due to go on sale next year, of as much interest to show visitors was an all-new concept car called Sassou. The name is a Japanese term that means having a positive state of mind, of looking ahead with optimism to the future. I for one think that if the Mazda city car of the future looks this good then we have a lot to look forward to.

The Sassou didn't have far to travel for the German show, having been created in Mazda's Frankfurt design centre. It is the first of three new concept cars from the Japanese company, each to be displayed at a major show near to the design office; expect others at October's Tokyo Motor Show and at the 2006 North American International Automobile Show. We think that the Sassou is one of the Frankfurt Show stars.

Under the dramatic bonnet shape lies a new powerplant designed to be powerful enough to be fun (in a small light car such as the Sassou) as well as kind to the environment with low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The new petrol unit takes the form of a turbocharged three-cylinder with an advanced direct-injection system and features idling stop to save fuel and reduce emissions when driving in stop-start conditions.

There is no doubt that the engine will be seen in production soon, but there are some aspects of the Sassou concept car that seem a little further away. For example, the ignition key has been replaced by a USB stick, which not only holds individualisation information about the driver, but can also be used to download music and other media files to the car's built-in hard drive. May sound fanciful, but due to the proliferation of such technology, don't be too surprised to see it making its way into cars in the near future.

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