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 |  Dec 30 2011, 8:29 AM

5. 2012 Mazda3 Skyactiv


What’s the best car of 2012? Who knows. Is a Porsche GT3 RS 4.0 better than a Ferrari 458 Italia? What about the Scion FR-S? Or a Prius Plug-in Hybrid? The past year has seen the launch of numerous excellent vehicles, including some we really didn’t expect to be any good. That said, we’ve put together our list of the top five surprisingly good cars of 2012, starting with the updated Mazda3.

We thoroughly enjoyed the new 3 (read our 2012 Mazda3 review here), something that’s not at all surprising at first. What is more of a shock is that it was Mazda’s new Skyactiv model, designed primarily for fuel economy, and that it managed to deliver in that department while sticking true to the brand’s Zoom-Zoom slogan.

Adding to our reasons for placing this car on our list of surprisingly good cars is the technology behind it. At both a preview event and the actual drive, Mazda gave us a deep-dive into the engineering solutions behind its new SkyActiv technologies, rethinking every aspect of the engine and transmission for this updated model. When Ford sold off its shares in Mazda recently many skeptics proclaimed that in this new era a smaller company like Mazda couldn’t possibly hope to be competitive without a large partner like, say, Toyota. But Mazda has proved them wrong, not only competing, but perhaps delivering the the only 40 mpg car that’s actually fun to drive.

 |  Oct 17 2011, 9:45 AM

2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv 03.JPG

Mazda‘s new SkyActiv engine was never intended to be used in the current Mazda3 platform, but with the new 40-mpg motor already developed, product planners decided it didn’t make sense just to sit on the technology – especially in a hyper-competitive segment where cars like the Cruze, Focus and Elantra are all claiming the big 40-mpg rating.

As a result Mazda made the decision to offer the new engine alongside the two previous options (the 2.0L MZR and the more powerful 2.5L), with a mid-range price. With 155-hp and 148 lb-ft of torque it’s a 5 percent improvement in peak power and a 10 percent spike in torque (although low and mid-range torque rise as much as 15 percent), making the old MZR powerplant essentially obsolete – especially considering its best highway rating is just 33-mpg.

Mazda has now confirmed the old MZR engine will be dropped from the product lineup with the Mazda3′s next bodystyle change, although it could be sooner than that. “We’re evaluating dropping the MZR for 2013,” said Sandra Lemaitre, National Manager for Public Relations at Mazda Canada, speaking at the launch of the new Mazda3 in Los Angeles.

The reason it’s still around hints Lemaitre is twofold. First, it’s the pricepoint, with the MZR-equipped models selling for significantly less than the new SkyActiv engine. Second, Mazda’s ability to offer the SkyActive powertrain is currently limited by supply.

As for the new SkyActiv-D engine, Lemaitre was silent about which new model will get the diesel option in North America It won’t be for the 2012 model year she said, commenting instead that, “We are introducing diesel in next 15-18 months.”

GALLERY: 2012 Mazda3

2012 Mazda3 4dr with SKYACTIV ext04 (US).jpg2012 Mazda3 5dr with SKYACTIV ext03 (US).jpg2012 Mazda3 4dr with SKYACTIV ext03 (US).jpg2012 Mazda3 5dr with SKYACTIV ext02 (US).jpg2012 Mazda3 with SKYACTIV skeleton image (US).jpg2012 Mazda3 SKYACTIV instrument cluster.jpg

 |  Oct 05 2011, 10:30 AM

2012 Mazda3 4dr with SKYACTIV ext04 (US).jpg

Mazda has finally released official pricing on the updated 2012 Mazda3 with the optional 40-mpg SkyActiv engine model starting at $18,450. That model, the Mazda3 i Touring, makes 155-hp and 148 lb-ft of torque for a 5 percent improvement in overall power, a 10 percent improvement in peak torque and a 15 percent improvement in low to mid-range torque. Plus, it delivers 21 percent better fuel economy.

The SkyActiv engine will also be available in the Mazda3 i Touring hatchback model, although with a slight decrease in highway fuel economy to 39-mpg.

In addition, Mazda will continue to offer the old 148-hp MZR 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine starting at $15,200 for the Mazda3 i SV model, while the Grand Touring models get a 2.5-liter with 167-hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. Grand Touring sedans are priced from $21,300 and hatchbacks from $21,800. And who can forget the MazdaSpeed3. Priced from $24,000 it thoroughly thrashed the new 2012 Honda Civic Si in our recent track shootout.

All 2012 Mazda3 models get an updated front fascia with new seats, seat material and some trim changes.

GALLERY: 2012 Mazda3

2012 Mazda3 5dr with SKYACTIV ext02 (US).jpg2012 Mazda3 5dr with SKYACTIV ext03 (US).jpg2012 Mazda3 4dr with SKYACTIV ext03 (US).jpg2012 Mazda3 SKYACTIV instrument cluster.jpg2012 Mazda3 MID LCD display.jpg2012 Mazda3 with SKYACTIV int03 (US).jpg

 |  Sep 29 2011, 6:00 PM

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Mazda is preparing to launch its new 2012 Mazda3 model with its important new SkyActiv engine and while specifics on the motor aren’t yet available, pricing now is. Or we should say, it is if you live in Canada.

We’ve just received the official pricing sheet from Mazda Canada and it contains one major surprise, while the new 2.0-liter SkyActiv engine has been added to the product lineup, it hasn’t replaced anything else. With the new 2.0-liter expected to deliver the power of the 2.5-liter with fuel economy exceeding the old 2.0 MZR motor, there was a possibility the new engine would be the only one offered. On the contrary, Mazda (in Canada at least) will continue to offer both past engines, with the SkyActiv powertrain slotting in between the two.

In Canada, the base Mazda3 GX model wit the 2.0 MZR engine has been discounted $700 to start at $15,595 while the GT model drops $730 to $23,695. The new GS model with the SkyActiv engine and 40-mpg highway rating (that’s 4.9 l/100 km) starts at $18,995.

As for the hatchback model, it’s now $900 cheaper at $16,595 while the top level GT starts $730 less at $24,695. And the new SkyActiv GS trim level will go for $19,995.

While we can’t confirm as much, look for a similar setup when the car goes on sale in the U.S. – although with obviously lower prices.

GALLERY: 2012 Mazda3

2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv 02.JPG2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv 05.JPGIMG_7054.JPGIMG_7056.JPGIMG_7057.JPGIMG_7059.JPG

Click here to read AutoGuide’s test drive of the Mazda SkyActiv Prototype

Hit the jump for a full breakdown of the Canadian market pricing:

Continue Reading…

 |  Apr 20 2011, 9:50 AM

Debuting the car at the New York Auto Show today, Mazda has just confirmed that the 2012 Mazda3 will match the Hyundai Elantra as the most fuel efficient compact car on the market with a 40-mpg highway rating.

The first vehicle to make use of the brand’s new SkyActiv fuel saving technologies, the 3 will be powered by a direct-injection 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Engine power numbers have yet to be released.

“SKYACTIV is not just an engine; it is the next generation of advanced
vehicle performance and efficiency,” said Jim O’Sullivan, President and
CEO, Mazda North American Operations.  “SKYACTIV embodies Mazda’s
philosophy of engineering only vehicles that are fun to drive, satisfying
to own and environmentally responsible; and there is no better vehicle to start with than the Mazda3, one of the most exciting sport compact cars on
the road.”

See AutoGuide’s complete 2011 NY Auto Show coverage here.

 |  Feb 20 2011, 2:37 PM

2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv 03.JPG

Mazda recently unveiled its new 2012 Mazda3 model, a mid-cycle update with one important change under the hood. Along with some cosmetic updates, the 3 gets Mazda’s new SkyActiv engine. At the time, Mazda was only willing to say that it was a direct-injection 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, targeting a 20 percent fuel economy improvement, while also adding low-end and mid-range torque.

No specific numbers are available, but according to Car & Driver a prototype version of the engine was able to make 163-hp and 155 lb-ft of torque. That’s up from 148-hp and 135 lb-ft in the current 2.0-liter, and down only slightly from the larger 2.5-liter engine.

Better yet, like the prototype, Mazda is targeting a 40-mpg highway rating with 30-mpg in the city, up significantly from 25/33-mpg with the current 2.0-liter and a drastic improvement from the 22/29-mpg rating of the 2.5. Aiding the improvement is a new 6-speed automatic transmission.

Debuting first in the Mazda3, it’s also expected to become the base powerplant for the next-generation Mazda6.

The 2012 Mazda3 will go on sale this Fall.

GALLERY: 2012 Mazda3

IMG_7054.JPGIMG_7056.JPGIMG_7057.JPGIMG_7055.JPG2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv 01.JPG2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv 02.JPG

[Source: Car & Driver]

Continue Reading…

 |  Feb 18 2011, 6:49 PM

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Debuting at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, the 2012 Mazda3 is more than just a facelifted model, showcasing the automaker’s new SkyActiv engine and transmission.

Full details have yet to be announced, but Mazda has confirmed the engine is a direct-injection 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that will deliver a 15 percent improvement in fuel economy. A new SkyActiv transmission (it’s still unclear if it’s a 6-speed or perhaps even a dual-clutch unit) will offer fuel economy gains ranging from four to seven percent.

Set to hit dealers this Fall, Mazda will then bring to market a SkyActiv-D diesel engine for North America in 2012.

[If the video isn't working for you, see it here at AutoGuide's YouTube Channel]

 |  Feb 17 2011, 11:47 AM

2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv 03.JPG

Revealed today at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, Mazda has confirmed that the SkyActiv-equipped Mazda3 will arrive at dealers in the U.S. and Canada this Fall. In addition, a diesel SkyActiv engine will be available a year later, with Mazda joining Volkswagen as the only non-premium automaker to offer a diesel in a passenger car.

Robert T. Davis, Senior VP for Quality, Research and Development at Mazda made the announcement and provided a few more details on the new technology and the SkyActiv gasoline engine, confirming that it is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes use of direct injection.

Compared to the current Mazda3, the SkyActiv model will achieve a roughly 20 percent improvement in fuel economy, with 15 percent coming from the engine itself, while an additional four to seven percent improvement is attributed to the new SkyActiv-drive transmission.

Davis commented that price makes electric and hybrid technology prohibitive and so Mazda is pursuing improvements to its internal combustion engines and will look to add start-stop systems and cut weight in the near future. Speaking to reporters he explained that Mazda will deliver the fuel economy of a B segment car in the C segment, the fuel economy of a diesel engine in a gasoline one, and the fuel economy of a hybrid in a diesel.

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[If the video isn't working, see it here at AutoGuide's YouTube video channel]

 |  Feb 17 2011, 9:45 AM

2012_mazda3_skyactiv_08.jpg

Canada is a popular market for Mazda where the Mazda3 compact rivals the Honda Civic as the best-selling passenger car, and so it’s not a big surprise that the Japanese automaker chose the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto to announce the introduction of its SkyActiv engine and transmission in the 3.

No details have yet been provided about horsepower, engine size or fuel economy, but Mazda has said the 2012 Mazda will get the new SkyActiv-G gasoline engine and SkyActive-Drive automatic transmission.

The new powertrains are part of a push by Mazda to boost fuel economy 30 percent by 2015, which is says the SkyActiv technologies will achieve. Improvement in driveability are included, with Mazda promising improved low and mid-range torque.

In addition, the 2012 Mazda3 hatchback and sedan get a slight facelift with redesigned front and rear bumpers, a new front grille, new headlights and new styles for the 16- and 17-inch wheels.

GALLERY: 2012 Mazda3

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GALLERY: 2012 Mazda3 Debut in Toronto

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