Frankfurt Auto ShowFRANKFURT – The B-Segment represents an important growth opportunity for Mazda Motor Corp., and executives say the new Sassou shows how serious Mazda is about becoming a player in Europe.

The car, designed to appeal to young, first-time car-buyers, takes center stage at the Mazda display here at the Frankfurt auto show.

It is a peek at what Mazda proposes to be new and exciting, says Peter Birtwhistle, chief designer-Mazda Motor Europe GmbH. “It’s the result of asking ourselves what stimulates young Europeans today.”

The 3-door hatchback uses what Mazda calls its “Zoom-Zoom” exterior design language, with youthful lightness and surprising hidden features. The car also boasts a USB stick key. All of this hints at where Mazda is heading with a future B-segment vehicle, the auto maker says.

Among the interesting features the show car explores is lighting that hides and then suddenly reveals various interior features, which makes the car seem to spring to life.

“We call it Mazda Alive because the lighting cascades and pulses like its being circulated by heartbeats just below the surface of the car,” says Masanori Minamisawa, assistant chief designer.

Opening the door reveals a glowing USB port in the center console. Inserted, the USB stick “key” controls all interior systems and causes a joystick control lever to appear.

All systems then are activated, and the vehicle can be started using an ignition button next to the instrument cluster.

dwinter@primediabusiness.com