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Auto blogWed, 07 Aug 2013 18:31:00 EST
There are school projects, and then there's the Mazda Deep Orange 3 Concept Car, a one-off built by Clemson University automotive engineering students and designed by Frederick Naaman from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Clemson students unveiled the chassis at the 2012 SEMA show in Las Vegas, although this is the first showing of the car fully clothed.
Sporting a unique hybrid powertrain that can automatically switch between front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive. A gas-powered engine handles the fronts, while the rears are powered by an electric motor and a battery pack. The Deep Orange 3 also has an unusual three-plus-three layout, making it a much cooler version of your parent's old Vista Cruiser. The exterior sheetmetal clearly follows Mazda's established design language, and looks like it could easily pass for a five-door version of the Shinari Concept. It really is a great looking vehicle.
The Deep Orange 3 was part of Clemson's graduate-level auto engineering program, and is a regular partnership between the east coast school and the Pasadena-based design college's students. Clemson, Art Center and Mazda will be showing the Deep Orange 3 at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, MI, from August 5 to August 8. Click through for a press release from Clemson University.
Back in October, we compared the relative merits of two new and very good small crossovers: the 2013 Ford Escape and 2013 Mazda CX-5. The CX-5 we tested then had Mazda's 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G engine under its hood, and it managed to just edge out the EcoBoosted Ford despite being down by some 23 horsepower and 34 pound-feet of torque. Had it been available, the 2.5-liter Skyactiv engine that we recently had the opportunity to try out in the 2014 Mazda CX-5, it may have made that comparison even easier to call in the Japanese CUV's favor.
Clearly, if you're in the market for a reasonably sized crossover, the CX-5 should, at the very least, be on your test-drive list. The new engine offering will let buyers opt for a stronger powerplant, with 184 hp and 185 lb-ft on tap. On our second day in Austin's Hill Country - the first was spent quick-spinning the 2014 Mazda6 i Sport, you'll recall - we covered a couple of hundred miles and put the new CX-5 through its paces; here's what we turned up.
Mazda, looking to make the most of its new, lightweight Skyactiv vehicle architecture, will allegedly use a version of the CX-5 crossover's platform to underpin its next-generation Mazda2 hatchback, according to a report from Just-Auto.com. Of course, the Mazda2 is a much smaller vehicle than its larger CUV stablemate, so some serious chopping will no doubt be in order when it comes time to engineer the replacement for the company's smallest hatch.
Currently, the CX-5 and the sleek new Mazda6 share many of the same platform components, and this architecture will already be scaled down to support the next-generation Mazda3 sedan and hatchback, which will debut later this year. Just-Auto.com states that all of Mazda's remaining front-wheel-drive vehicles will eventually switch to reworked versions of this Skyactiv platform, including the replacement for the larger CX-9 crossover.
Also of note, Mazda will reportedly be switching to shorter, four-year lifecycles for its vehicles. This means that the newly launched Mazda6 will be replaced for the 2016 calendar year, with a refresh coming sometime in 2014. That said, vehicles with platforms supplied by other automakers (like the upcoming MX-5 Miata replacement that will share its underpinnings with an Alfa Romeo product) will not necessarily follow this four-year rule.