MAZDA3 i Grand Touring 4-Door Sedan Ride and Review By Larry Nutson
2012 Mazda3 i Skyactiv - No Buttons
by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel
Mazda is the definition of affordable Japanese performance. The Mazda3 has been a perennial fun-to-drive compact. All the attention today is on high fuel economy cars. 40mpg is the new 30mpg. And there is a broad selection of very nice compact cars offered by many brands on the market today.
Back in February, the new Mazda3 with Skyactiv was introduced to auto writers at a gathering in Los Angeles. Here's my story that details the new Mazda3 and its mid-cycle refresh.
I tend to prefer a more versatile hatchback, or liftback as some say, and Mazda says 5-door. But, the sedan configuration of my test Mazda3 proved to be very versatile. I needed to take my Labrador retriever to the vet, and a simple fold-down of the 60/40 slit rear seat gave Java, my lab, the space she needed.
Now here’s an interesting difference. The fuel tank of the sedan holds 14.5 gallons whereas the 5-door holds 15.9 gallons. At the 40mpg highway rating that will get you 60 miles further down the road. My point here is when car shopping look into the details of the different body styles and don’t decide only based on style and appearance. This is the reason that for the past 16 years The Auto Channel has developed and perfected interactive research tools that provide serious vehicle shoppers with in-depth information and comparison cabilities.
For example here on The Auto Channel:
RANK: Every Vehicle sold in North America by 100 dimensions, capacities and other criteria.
COMPARE 2012-1997 vehicles (same or different brand or style) by 100 criteria side by side by side by side
Much to my surprise, and also delight, my Mazda3 test car was fitted with Bridgestone Blizzak winter tires. However this turned out to be a bit ironic because my late-March test drive was during the crazy-for-Chicago 80º temps we had. Most new cars come today with all-season tires. Well, if you live in a snowy, cold-climate area, those tires are actually three-season. When winter conditions are common for three or more months of the year, winter tires are a smart investment. Depending upon your driving habits, one set can see you through several winter seasons. Note: mount them on their own wheels.
The winter tire is designed to provide maximum performance in low winter temperatures and on ice, snow and slush. This tire performs better due to its combination of more flexible sidewalls, winter tread patterns, deeper tread depth, and perhaps most importantly, tread compounds which remain soft in the lowest winter temperatures. Even under dry road conditions, stopping distances can be shorter with winter tires when the outside temps are very low. The noticeable negative is that winter tires are noisier.
As I wrap up this story, Consumer Guide Automotive just announced their 2012 Best Buys and the Mazda 3 is one of them. No surprise. This is great little compact car. Fun-to-drive; very good for city living; great for hot-footing in the open country; very controlled and comfortable and safe.
The Mazda 3 is offered in eleven different models with various engine and transmission combinations. It’s a no compromise and confident car that I am confident you will like.
© Larry Nutson