Thursday, March 22, 2012

2012 Mazda3: Better Fuel Economy, Same Great Ride

The 2012 Mazda3 compact has a few exterior and interior changes, but the big news for this model is the SkyActiv technology that is aimed to offer optimal fuel economy.
The Mazda3 is offered as a sedan and a hatchback.
On the outside, the front bumper has been smoothed and some of the grille's detailing has changed. Mazda says the changes to the exterior and underbody were made to improve aerodynamics.

The Mazda3 with an optional SkyActiv engine gives a blue ring around each projector-beam headlight lens, extra badging and a blue engine cover under the hood.

The 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels have a new design, but the 16-inch steel and 18-inch alloy rims carry over from last year's model. 

On the inside, there is silver trim on knobs and vent pulls, providing a more upscale look. The gauge markings have backlighting, the dashboard LCDs are white and the sportier Mazdaspeed3 version has red gauge backlighting. 

The Mazda3 has three engines, including the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder known as MZR, which makes 148 horsepower and is linked to a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic. It gets 25 mpg city, 33 highway with the manual and 24 and 33 with the automatic.

In the hatchback and sedans that are Sport trim level or higher, there is a 167 horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder linked to a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic. The fuel economy is rated at 20 and 28 on the manual and 22 and 29 on the automatic.

The SkyActiv 2.0-liter direct-injection four-cylinder makes 155 horsepower, gaining about 5 percent over the base 2.0-liter and 10 percent more torque. The sedan is rated at 27 mpg city, 39 highway with a SkyActiv six-speed manual or 28 and 40 with a six-speed SkyActiv automatic. The hatchback gets 27 and 38 with manual and 28 and 38 with automatic.

The Mazda3 has antilock brakes and an electronic stability system. There are two airbags in front, seat-mounted side-impact torso airbags for the front occupants and side curtains along the side windows. New options for the model year include a blind spot monitoring system and active headlights.

The test drive model carried a sticker price of $24,970.

The Mazda3 remains one of the sportiest non-luxury compact sedans on the market, and its new fuel economy technology makes it an even more compelling buy.

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