2013 Mazda Deep 3 Orange Prototype

When you ask students to design a car, you normally get some wildly imaginative drawings of vehicles with wings on it, turbo boosters, or a combination of both in some occasions.

But the automotive engineering students from Clemson University aren’t your typical students. For one, they know how to design a car, but more importantly, they know how to design a pretty cool car. Both things were shown in full bloom with the presentation of the Mazda Deep Orange 3.

Built in collaboration with Mazda, the Deep Orange 3 actually represents a next-generation Mazda concept vehicle, conceived and engineered from the ground up by automotive engineering students at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR). "Impressive" doesn’t even do justice on how to describe this vehicle.

Every engineering from the inside and out came from the minds of these young and up-and-coming designers, a tribute to not only their creativity but also to their skills and understanding on how to build a car from scratch. The design of the Deep Orange 3, in particular, was actually penned by student Frederick Naaman at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Everything else was developed and built by students in Clemson’s graduate automotive engineering program, all of whom are required to create and manufacture a new vehicle prototype . The vehicle’s concept and design are developed in partnership with students from the transportation design department at the Art Center focusing holistically on the vehicle and the end-user.

After months of collaboration and tireless work in ensuring a top-end build at the end of the day, the Deep Orange 3 prototype was born.

Click past the jump to read about the Mazda Deep 3 Orange Prototype


Mazda Deep 3 Orange Prototype

The prototype chassis of the Deep Orange 3 was actually shown at last year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas. It had everything on it except the body panels, a clear indication of what the students had developed up to that point and a sign of things to come on what lay ahead for the prototype.

And the result is nothing short of impressive. One look at the Deep Orange 3 and you’ll immediately notice the inspiration drawn from Mazda Mazda ’s "Kodo" design language and built using a load-bearing structure based on innovative sheet-folding technology patented by Industrial Origami. The hatchback shape of the prototype also looks better than most of what Mazda has produced in recent years, a tribute to the ingenuity of these students.

The slit-like headlights and the sharply contoured front bumper likewise lends a touch of sporty aggression that the Japanese automaker should seriously consider putting into its production models.

Exterior Dimensions in (mm)

Length175.2 (4,450)
Width w/o mirrors75.0 (1,905)
Height53.1 (1,350)
Wheelbase107.5 (2,730)
Track width front/rear65.9/65.9 (1,675/1,675)
Minimum ground clearance4.3 (110)
Weight lbs (kg)
Unladen3,086 (1,400)
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating4,189 (1,900)
Weight Distribution front/rear50/50% (with 2 occupants)


Mazda Deep 3 Orange Prototype

Not much information was given about the interior but the mere proposition of a 3+3 seating configuration already has us wondering why nobody has thought about doing this in the past. We can only imagine the space issues, though, considering that the Deep 3 Orange’s hatchback characteristic won’t do much in the way of providing enough space for six individuals.

Interior Dimensions in (mm)

Seating Capacity6
Effective head room 1st/2nd row38.2/37.4 (970/950)
Should room 1st/2nd row65.6/65.6 (1,665/1,665)
Effective leg room 1st/2nd row42.7/31.9 (1,085/810)
Seat upholsteryYES Essentials by Sage Automotive Interiors
Cargo volume10.6 cu-ft (300 liters)


Mazda Deep 3 Orange Prototype

The Deep 3 Orange has a unique powertrain concept, that much we can say. It was derived based on extensive analysis of the Gen Y market, which, it was determined, is an environmentally conscious generation willing to invest in sustainable powertrain technologies with a similarly significant interest in all-wheel-drive (AWD) technology. Using these points, the students developed a through-the-road parallel hybrid powertrain concept that makes use of a turbocharged four-cylinder front-wheel engine, an electric rear-wheel engine and a hybrid system that puts everything together.

All told, the Deep 3 Orange is capable of producing 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque to go with a 0-to-60 mph time of 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 125 mph.

Engine Specifications

Front Wheel Drive Engine
Type1.5-liter Mazda MZR-ZY turbo inline 4-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC with VVT
Displacement1,498 cc
Bore x Stroke78.0 x 78.8 mm
Nominal output140 horsepower at 1,850 rpm
Maximum torque155 pound-feet of torque at 5,500 rpm
Redline6,300 rpm
Compression ratio10.0:1
Fuel systemElectronically-controlled multipart fuel injection
Engine block/Cylinder headAluminum alloy/Auminum alloy
Front transmission typeMazda 5-speed manual
Rear Wheel Drive Engine
TypeTM4 MOTIV MO120 Permanent-magnet brushless AC Electric Motor
Inverter TypeTM4 MOTIV CO60 Inverter/controller
Peak output107 horsepower
Continuous output50 horsepower at 6,000 rpm
Peak torque125 pound-feet of torque at 0-4,250 rpm
Continuous torque48 pound-feet of torque at 6,000 rpm
Operating voltage346 Vdc
Operating speed0-10,000 rpm
Rear transmission typeGKN eTransmission, 1-speed
Energy Storage Systems
TypeLithium-Ion Polymer battery
Number of cells/modules108 cells total in 3 modules
Battery pack nominal capacity346 Vdc
Battery pack nominal voltage2.4 kWh
Battery cell typeEIG ePLB F007 performance cells with LiFePO4-based cathode
Cell nominal voltage3.2 Vdc
Cell nominal capacity7 Ah
Fuel tank capacity8 gallons (30 liters)
Acceleration 0-60 mph7.5 seconds
Top speed125 mph
EPA Fuel consumption City/Highway42/49 mpg
Cruising range350 miles


The Mazda Deep 3 Orange isn’t for sale, which is a bummer considering that it looks like its ready to conquer the road in its current form. It may, however, inspire future concepts from Mazda that could, in turn, result in future production models and technology.


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If the Deep 3 Orange had a production future, it would make for a compelling competitor to the Honda CR-Z. Both take similar shape and both have impressive performance credentials — the CR-Z falls in the output department but more than makes up for it with its power and speed of the block.

The 3+3 seating configuration of the Deep 3 Orange could either be a boon or a bane to anybody willing to try that experiment out. We’re of the ilk to try out anything new, so its a plus for us. That being said, others might not look to fondly at it and prefer the more traditional interior seating configuration.


Mazda Deep 3 Orange Prototype

Ultimately, we love the Deep 3 Orange Prototype and everything it represents. As a car, it looks sharp, sporty, and aggressive, three qualities you’d want in any vehicle, let alone on a hatchback. It also has a pretty impressive, albeit highly complicated powertrain setup that doles out copious levels of performance.

But the best part about the Deep 3 Orange Prototype is the fact that it was built and developed exclusively by young students who we have no doubt all have promising futures in the auto industry.

Category RatingDetails
Driving n/a
Performance BHybrid Powertrain Still Packs Plenty Of Punch
Look ASharp Looks And Aggressive Stance Does Mazda’s KODO Language Justice
Value n/aNot Available In The Market
Overall A-A Highly Impressive Work By Young Students With Bright Futures In The Industry
  • Sharp looks
  • Interior seating is new
  • Performance levels are high
  • Built by STUDENTS!
  • No production future

Press Release

Mazda Deep 3 Orange Prototype

It has innovative engineering inside and out, and it’s all the work of students.

A next-generation Mazda concept vehicle, conceived and engineered by Clemson University automotive engineering students at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), was shown here Monday for the first time in its finished form.

The Deep Orange 3 with body panels designed by student Frederick Naaman at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., was unveiled at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars.

Derek Jenkins, design director for Mazda North American Operations, said that to be part of a college program of this caliber that focuses not just on one aspect of a vehicle, but the vehicle as a whole, is an automaker’s dream come true.

“These students have provided fresh and inventive ideas from sketch pad to sheet metal, and the final product truly speaks to that open dialogue and collaboration between the Art Center College of Design and Clemson University,” Jenkins said.

The Deep Orange 3 prototype chassis vehicle was unveiled during the 2012 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas. The vehicle was displayed minus the body panels.

Paul Venhovens, BMW Endowed Chair in Systems Integration at CU-ICAR, who leads the Deep Orange program, said the students had free rein to push the boundaries of conventional design and engineering.

Deep Orange 3 features a unique hybrid powertrain that automatically chooses front-, rear- or all-wheel drive; a load-bearing structure based on innovative sheet-folding technology patented by Industrial Origami; and groundbreaking 3+3 seating configuration in sports car architecture.

“We know the future of the automotive industry will require ever more flexible, more cost-effective and more innovative approaches to manufacturing,” Venhovens said. “Our manufacturing approach on this project was exemplary of this kind of change.”

Students in Clemson’s graduate automotive engineering program are required to create and manufacture a new vehicle prototype. The vehicle’s concept and design are developed in partnership with students from the transportation design department at the Art Center focusing holistically on the vehicle and the end-user.

“Deep Orange offers companies an exclusive opportunity to showcase advanced-vehicle technologies,” said Stewart Reed, chairman of transportation design for the Art Center College of Design. “For designers and engineers alike, it’s a rich experience of working directly with industry leaders to develop ideas.

“Today is extremely exciting,” Reed said. “The result is a physical, drivable vehicle, and nothing could be more exciting for our students.”

The program provides students with experience in vehicle design, development, prototyping and production planning. Each year, a prototype vehicle is developed with a new market focus and technical objectives.

The project showcases advanced vehicle technologies and provides students an opportunity to work directly with automotive industry partners to innovate and develop ideas.

The CU-ICAR booth is located in the governors pre-function area, just outside the main conference hall, and will be displayed throughout the event.

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