Soul Red Crystal Metallic is Unmistakably Mazda
  • Kristin Shaw

Soul Red Crystal Metallic is Unmistakably Mazda

If you want a vehicle in a stunning red, this is the brand for you

Once you know what Mazda's Soul Red Crystal paint color looks like, you can't miss it. You'll see it down the street and nod; yes, that's a Mazda. The red has exceptional depth; a mix between ruby red and dark crimson, it reflects the light around it.

What really makes Mazda's Soul Red Crystal special is the process. Concept cars are typically painted by hand, and the result is a unique, standout color. These hues have been difficult to replicate on the production line, but Mazda figured it out.

Mazda's Simona Merker Explains the Design Philosophy

Cars Her Way spoke with Simona Merker, a color, materials, and finishes designer for Mazda, at the bi-annual Heels and Wheels event, and she told us about the process.

"Instead of painting cars conventionally, we studied how Japanese masters were painting the concept cars," she said. "Then we duplicated that in our robots to transfer the human feel to the brushstrokes."

Merker's passion for design and beauty radiates from her face as she speaks of the Mazda philosophy and the ways she works with the brand. Mazda wants its customers to feel the immersion of affordable luxury in the works of art - each car - they purchase.

"Imagine jumping into a pool at night in complete darkness," she says. "It's exciting to make the jump, and then you feel joy. And happiness, surrounded by water."

Five factors that enable Mazda to create a unique product

  1. Human effort: Mazda says they use more clay than any other car brand. All of the model shapes are created by hand because they believe it's something you can't recreate with digital modeling. Designers create the ideas on paper and then interpret the sketch in 3D. They want to induce the warmth of the human hand, says Merker.

  2. Human fingerprints and Japanese mastery: Mazda's engineers figured out that the mathematical process does not have the same touch as if someone does it by hand. Every car has human fingerprints and there is a great deal of emotional flow under the surface.

  3. Human capability: Merker tells the story of a man who blindfolded a designer to test the ergonomics. They want each aspect of the interior to contribute to the driving experience.

  4. Passionate spirit: the soul red color is inspired by the process of forging metal. The metal cools and has a black shadow underneath, underpinning the metallic colors of the red shades and giving it depth and dimension.

  5. Human touch: instead of painting cars the typical way for mass production, they created a motion capture video of a master painter in action. Then they programmed the robots to recreate the brush strokes and precision.

In Mazda's words:

Soul red has a unique mix of translucence and depth of color. To realize this mix, the engineering team devised a novel coating structure. A semi-transparent paint layer was coated on a reflecting layer comprised of regularly arrayed aluminum flakes. A clear layer that emphasizes translucence was coated on top of the paint layer. To reproduce the color intensity of soul red faithfully and keep the color perfectly universal on the whole of the body surface, the thickness of the coating on every part was meticulously controlled.
Also, TAKUMINURI, a cutting-edge robotic painting technology, was crucial to applying soul red to mass production cars. TAKUMINURI uses data obtained through simulation painting done by experienced human painters – such as the distribution of coating thickness ― to improve robotic painting. In light of the data, the painting process for each part was reformed and a new controlling system was developed.


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