MPG-o-Matic 2012 Mazda3 Review Summary: Mazda boldly touts the 2012 Mazda3 Skyactiv as “the first 40 MPG car worth driving.” While that might seem like a lot of hype, it’s not too far off the mark. The Skyactiv3 delivers a class-topping combination of MPGs and driving dynamics.
The new Skyactiv-G engine is offered in the Mazda3’s i Touring and i Grand Touring trim. The direct-injected DOHC VVT 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine produces 155 horsepower (HP) and 148 foot pounds of torque. It’s a solid motor, but the whole Skyactiv story is about more than just the power plant. Mazda’s more conventional 2.0 and 2.5-liter engines continue to be offered in the i SV/i Sport sedan and s Touring/s Grand Touring trim (both sedan and five-door), respectively.
The official fuel economy estimates for the Mazda3 Skyactiv sedan are 27 city / 39 highway with the six-speed overdrive manual and 28 / 40 with the six-speed Skyactiv-Drive automatic. The five-door Mazda3 Skyactiv is slightly less fuel-efficient, with 27 / 38 MPG for the manual and 28 / 39 MPG for the automatic. Blame it on the aerodynamics. The i Touring and i Grand Touring sedans are the most aerodynamic of the 2012 Mazda3’s with a Coefficient of drag of just 0.27. The five-door hatchback slips in at a 0.29 Cd in i trim and 0.30 in s trim.
The Skyactiv-G engine delivers more horsepower, torque, and fuel-efficiency than the conventional 2.0-liter, using a number of technologies including:
- high-compression ratio
- weight and friction reduction
4-2-1 exhaust system
We took to the road and covered more than 800 miles in our Skyactiv automatic-equipped Sky Blue Grand Touring sedan review unit and had no problem surpassing the official mileage estimates, with an average of 45.1 MPG on the Interstate highway and 35.8 MPG combined with temperatures ranging from the thirties through the fifties.
Interstate Mileage Testing:
- Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, windows up: 44.3 MPG
- Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, windows up: 45.9 MPG
Interstate highway testing temperatures were in the fifties. Our Grand Touring test vehicle was equipped with the standard 16-inch alloy wheels, clad with Bridgestone Turanza EL400 P205/55R16 all-season tires, and was delivered with approximately 1100 miles on the odometer.
Highway driving range is excellent. The Mazda3 Skyactiv is fitted with a 14.5 gallon fuel tank and is designed to run on regular unleaded.
The 2012 Mazda3 i Touring and Grand Touring is fitted with four-wheel-disc brakes (10.9-inch vented front/10.4-inch solid rear) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist. The manual transmission-equipped Skyactiv3 weighs in at 2,872 pounds (curb weight), while the automatic weighs in at 2,950 pounds.
The Mazda3 Grand Touring’s Color Multi-Information Display includes trip meters, range to empty, and average fuel consumption displays, along with real-time fuel economy. It’s good to see that Mazda did not overlook the crucial real-time MPG display, as have some of the competition.
This is the drivers car among the growing 40 MPG crowd.
The innovative six-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmission uses both a torque converter and an automated clutch to deliver smooth and fast gear changes as well as improved fuel economy and includes a Sport mode with manual-shift.
The cabin is all business. The Grand Touring edition includes leather-trimmed seating surfaces, an eight-way power driver’s seat, and five-level seat heating, and moon roof. The leather-wrapped steering wheel’s controls are comprehensive. Adjustable lumbar support is not available.
Hands-free Bluetooth is standard, along with a ten-speaker Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound audio system, and an audio input jack. The USB iPod Integration Module is a dealer installed option. There are two twelve-volt outlets: one inside the center console and one at the base of the dash.
Our tester was equipped with the Technology option package, which includes:
- Blindspot mirrors
- Sirus Satellite radio
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Pivoting adaptive front lighting system with bi-xenon HID headlights
- Perimeter alarm
While the Mazda3 i Grand Touring sedan benefits from a remarkably low 0.27 coefficient of drag (Cd), the rear seat is pleasant for two (although rated for three). There are 37.4 inches of headroom (with the moon roof) and 36.2 inches of legroom.
|i Touring, GT
|Coefficient of Drag (Cd)
The sedan’s trunk allows for 11.8 cubic feet of storage with the seat up. Folding the 60/40 seats down from inside the cabin provides ample room for larger items. Any more than that and you might want to opt for the hatchback.
All-in-all, the 2012 Mazda3 Skyactiv delivers a class-leading combination of driving dynamics, aerodynamics and fuel-efficiency. Our only wishes are for adjustable lumbar support, a larger navigation screen and standard USB. While the competition is fierce in this segment, the Skyactiv stands out as the driver’s car among the 40 MPG crowd.
Parts Content Information
US/Canadian Parts Content: 0%
Major Sources of Foreign Parts Content: Japan – 95%
Final Assembly Point: Houfu, Japan
Country of Origin:
Engine – Japan
Transmission – Japan
– by Daniel Gray
2012 Mazda3 Skyactiv Sedan
“The Mazda3 Skyactiv stands out as the driver’s car among the 40 MPG crowd.”