Mazda has made some innovative improvements in auto engineering with their newly introduced SkyActiv technology system. The Mazda 3 sedan is one of the first cars to come with the new 2.0-liter engine featuring SkyActiv, which helps it to deliver an impressive 25 mpg in the city and a whopping 40 mpg on the highway. It delivers 148 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque, accelerating zero to 60 mph in a lazy 9.9 seconds. This engine comes with a standard five-speed manual transmission, but a five-speed automatic is optional. The 3i Touring and Grand Touring get the same engine, only it is tweaked just a bit to boost performance to 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. Those opting for one of the S trims will enjoy a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is motivated by 167 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque. This improves acceleration speed by 1.8 seconds.
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The 2012 model of the Mazda 3 features some new body changes as well. If you are familiar with this line then you immediately notice the improvement to the nose, which has been welcome with open arms. You will no longer find that big iconic grin that Mazda has long been known for. The extra-large smiling grille has been replaced by a more modest smile that seems much more refined.
Mazda makes a bold claim for the new 3 series sedan: "Our 40 mpg is better than their 40 mpg." This is Mazda's way of reassuring you that they haven't sacrificed performance for fuel economy, like their competitors have done. And by "them" they mean Hyundai, Ford and Honda, who all have models that have reached the coveted 40 mpg benchmark on select models. But unlike their competitors, Mazda didn't get there with hard tires, space saving spares or aerodynamic hubcaps. Mazda offers the most options available on any of the 40+ mpg cars, including technology packages with adaptive headlights and LED tail lamps.
All of the controls on the Mazda 3 instrument panel are easy to figure out. The center part of the dashboard is clear and the gauges are simple to operate without taking your eyes off the road. The digital information is easy to read via a scrolling item at the steering wheel. The digital information here is even easy to read when the sun is beaming in the windows and creating a glare, especially in the SkyActiv models, which feature blue meter illumination.