2012 Mazda3: More Efficient, Less Happy

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
2012 mazda3 more efficient less happy

Mazda has joined the party at the 40 MPG beach, rolling out its new SkyActive engine technology in order to give its Mazda3 refresh a 40 MPG EPA highway rating (with autobox, 39 MPG with manual). Power is up as well with the new engines, generating 155 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 148 lb-feet of torque at 4,100 rpm. But possibly the biggest Mazda news: as part of its goal to become “the Japanese Alfa Romeo,” Mazda’s stylists have toned down the 3’s goofy grin, giving it a slightly more grave countenance. Again, by addressing the 3’s traditional weaknesses, namely weak fuel economy and overwrought styling, Mazda has helped make the NYIAS a banner year for well-executed mid-cycle refreshes.

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  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Apr 25, 2011

    THis is still one of the few cars I would look to the Fast and Furious style aftermarket front ends to actually improve the looks of a product.

  • Nearprairie Nearprairie on Oct 31, 2011

    Our test of the '12 Mazda3 with SkyActiv was good enough that we're considering buying a hatchback. Impressions: 1. SkyActiv engine noise at start-up sounded like someone shaking a Folgers coffee can full of bolts and washers. I even asked the salesman if there was oil in the engine. Turns out the noise is short lived and an anomaly of the compression engineering. 2. The speakers in the Sport model are some of the worst I've ever heard. The Bose system in the Touring and Grand Touring models is pretty good. Adding Bose to the Sport model costs $1500 and includes a sunroof. Hello Crutchfield! 3. The SkyActiv engine provided plenty of scat, but required a lot of RPM to wring it out. Turning radius was tight, not Smart fortwo tight, but tight enough that maneuvering in a parking lot was easy. And speaking handling, the car was tight on zigzags and around corners, and those brakes -- suh-weet! -- just the right amount of pedal travel and the whole car seemed to squat under hard braking, instead of the dreaded nose dive. 4. Ergonomics, while not '91-era Honda superb, were decent and major controls and buttons were easy to find and read. The drivers seat was easy to adjust, but it was the telescoping steering wheel that made the seat-to-steering wheel relationship workable. 5. The sunroof doesn't rob nearly as much headroom as it does in the Honda Civic and Accord. 6. Rear seats in the sedan are easy in-easy out; in the hatch they are waaaay low, in order to have enough headro0m under the sloping roof. 7. Fit-n-finish were very good with tight seams, no ugly gaps, tactile controls and an overall feeling of quality. 8. 40+ MPG is sweet icing on a pretty tasty cake.

  • Tassos ask me if I care.
  • ToolGuy • Nice vehicle, reasonable price, good writeup. I like your ALL CAPS. 🙂"my mid-trim EX tester is saddled with dummy buttons for a function that’s not there"• If you press the Dummy button, does a narcissist show up spouting grandiose comments? Lol.
  • MaintenanceCosts These are everywhere around here. I'm not sure the extra power over a CR-V hybrid is worth the fragile interior materials and the Kia dealership experience.
  • MaintenanceCosts It's such a shame about the unusable ergonomics. I kind of like the looks of this Camaro and by all accounts it's the best-driving of the current generation of ponycars. A manual 2SS would be a really fun toy if only I could see out of it enough to drive safely.
  • ToolGuy Gut feel: It won't sell all that well as a new vehicle, but will be wildly popular in the used market 12.5 years from now.(See FJ Cruiser)