A futuristic 4-seat coupe based on the 323. To be seen is the steering wheel replaced by a rectangular belt. Bertone designed it with Marc Deschamps as Chief Designer. 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 an unseen sight prototype, with the only condition being built around Mazda mechanics. Bertone deconstructed the Mazda 323 and rebuilt it with modern proportions and ample window surfaces.
The MX-81 is an elegant, sporty four-seater coupé. The proportions were designed keeping the dimensions of the mechanics in mind, an entirely new procedure for a prototype. Every detail blends in with the rest in the resulting single, integrated structure. The design is very refined, featuring minimal lines without unnecessary decoration and a great amount of light, accentuated by the original ratio of wing height to a greenhouse. The rear windscreen acquires particular importance, with its large, light glazing resulting from much design work. The interiors of the MX-81 show the results of previous Bertone experience with instrumentation. To create more space, the steering wheel has been eliminated. A system with a circular belt is in its place, which gives the obvious advantage of occupying less space and therefore increasing driving comfort.
In the following years, testifying the successful partnership with Bertone, Mazda took much inspiration from the MX-81 prototype for its mass-produced models.
Source: 1981 Mazda MX-81 Aria (Bertone) - Studios. https://www.carstyling.ru/en/car/1981_mazda_mx_81_aria/
Images: Carrozzeria Bertone s.p.a., Mazda