LAS VEGAS -- Mazda's not a company that makes a big deal about things. At the 2013 SEMA Show, there was no Mazda press conference, no thumping music at its booth, and no scantily clad booth professionals -- just four tasteful concepts. From the company that brought us the ultimate automotive expression of "less is more," the MX-5 Miata, this is to be expected.
Starting off, there's the Mazda Ceramic 6 Concept, an example of the Mazda6 that's been modified to enhance the sedan's performance and style.
The Ceramic White exterior color gives the concept its name and features a metallic base with a satin finish. Look closely and you'll see that the 6 has been detailed with thin taupe silver accent stripes that are meant to evoke imagery of flowing fabric and feelings of serenity. I got none of that, but I still think it's a classy look.
Filling the wheel wells are a set of Rays Volk Racing Original G25 20-inch wheels that have been finished in a taupe silver that perfectly matches the pinstriped pattern on the body. Peek between the wheel's 10 spokes to find the brakes upgraded with custom Brembo two-piece drilled rotors with six-piston calipers.
However, I think the coolest upgrades happen inside the Ceramic 6 Concept's cabin, where you'll find the dashboard, door inserts, and seats upholstered with premium soft leather in white. The center panels of the seats feature an overlapping weave pattern that looks fantastic.
The Club Sport 6 Concept is part of a pair of motorsports-inspired Club Sport vehicles on display. This example features a composite gray finish with a brilliant black rooftop. Black and red graphics all over the body are, according to Mazda, "reminiscent of a car speeding past your line of sight."
Underneath the Club Sport 6 Concept's hood, you'll find a European-spec version of the low-compression Skyactiv-D 2.2-liter clean-diesel engine that will be available in North America in late spring 2014. It has an output of 173 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.
Peering into the cabin, I was amazed at how different this purpose built race car's interior is from the production car. The racer's driver's seat and dashboard sit significantly lower in the cabin and have been shifted significantly aft to lower the center of mass and acheive an optimal weight distribution. And you can forget about standard Bluetooth hands-free calling.
The Club Sport 3 Concept is the second half of the Club Sport duo and shares the Club Sport 6's sporty mission. Its exterior is finished with Slate White paint scheme and an even more aggressive Club Sport graphic scheme that includes metallic silver line work, glossy light gray and matte black mica patterns, and vibrant red vinyl detailing. Alphanumeric black vinyl lettering calls the fuel door, tire size, and other details to showgoers' attention.
The five-door Club Sport 3 also features a Mazda Design-developed aero kit in color-contrasting brilliant black. Mazda plans to make this aero kit available for all 2014 Mazda3 vehicles sold worldwide with pricing to be announced closer to its on-sale date.
The interior features red aniline leather throughout, which is contrasted with premium black leather for the driver's touch points (steering wheel, shift lever, e-brake handle, and so on) with red contrast stitching.
This bit should sound familar: The Club Sport 3 features a Racing Beat performance exhaust, Brembo two-piece, six-piston brake, and Rays 57 Motorsport G07FXX 20-inch black wheels. However, the Club Sport 3 differentiates itself with a CUSCO coilover suspension kit.
The Club Sport 3 is equipped with the Mazda3's Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter gasoline engine, but pairs it with a modified six-speed manual transmission borrowned from the CX-5 compact SUV. This gives the hatchback a short 4.7:1 final drive ratio -- 20 percent shorter stock -- resulting in better acceleration. A Wavetrac helical limited-slip differential makes sure that the torque isn't wasted on wheel spin.
The Vector 3 is, essentially, a styling excercise. Performance upgrades are limited to suspension, brakes, and wheels. The rolling stock is identical to that of the Ceramic 6. An H&R suspension holds the chassis over Rays Volk Racing Original G25 20-inch wheels, but with a black finish. It also brings itself to a stop with the same brakes upgraded with custom Brembo two-piece drilled rotors with six-piston calipers. I wonder if they got a bulk discount on those...