Mazda MX-81 Aria (Bertone) (1981)
A futuristic 4-seat coupe based on the 323. Was designed by Bertone with Marc Deschamps as Chief Designer. To be seen is the steering wheel replaced by a rectangular belt.
For many years now Bertone has been on excellent terms with Toyo Kogyo, better known by its trading name Mazda. In 1981 the Japanese manufacturer commissioned a prototype sight unseen, with the only condition being that it be built around Mazda mechanics. Bertone deconstructed the Mazda 323 and rebuilt it with modern proportions and ample window surfaces. The MX-81 is a refined, sporty four-seater coupé. The proportions were designed keeping the dimensions of the mechanics in mind, an entirely new procedure for a prototype. In the resulting single, integrated structure every detail blends in with the rest. The design as a whole is very refined, featuring minimal lines without any unnecessary decoration, and a great amount of light, which is accentuated by the original ratio of wing height to greenhouse. The rear windscreen acquires particular importance, with its large, light glazing, the result of much design work. The interiors of the MX-81 show the results of previous Bertone experience with instrumentation. In order to create more space the steering wheel has been eliminated, and in its place is a system with a circular belt, which gives the obvious advantage of occupying less space and therefore increasing driving comfort.
In the following years, testifying to the successful partnership with Bertone, Mazda took much inspiration from the MX-81 prototype for its mass-produced models.