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.