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2012 Mazda3 Grand Touring SKYACTIV Review By John Heilig

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2012 Mazda3

MORE: Mazda3 Specs, Comparisons and Reviews - Mazda Buyers Guide (1997-2012)

By John Heilig
The Auto Channel

SPECIFICATIONS: 2012 Mazda3 Grand Touring SKYACTIV

Model: 2012 Mazda3 Grand Touring SKYACTIV
Engine: 2.0-liter I4
Horsepower/Torque: 155 hp @ 6,000 rpm/148 lb.-ft. @4,100 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with manual mode
Wheelbase: 103.9 in.
Length/Width/Height: 180.9 x 69.1 x 57.9 in.
Tires: P205/55R16
Cargo volume: 12 cu. ft. (est.)
Fuel economy: 28 mpg city/40 mpg highway/25.5 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 14.5 gal.
Curb weight: 2,950 lbs.
Sticker: $24,970 (includes $785 deliver, processing and handling charge; $1,878 in options

Top 5 Reasons to buy this car
1. Good economy
2. Compact car ride quality
3. Low emissions (PZEV)
4. Fun to drive
5. Does what's expected of it

The Bottom Line: The Mazda3 fits well into the comp[act car segment with its 2.0-liter engine, decent economy and small dimensions. It is peppy and comfortable on longer drives.

Mazda is promoting its new SKYACTIV technology, which is used in essentially all its vehicles. SKYACTIV is not just an engine treatment, but it applies to the whole vehicle. All vehicle components were examined and refined according to SKYACTIV rules.

"SKYACTIV Technology 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," said Jim O'Sullivan, president and CEO, Mazda North American Operations.

So what of this Mazda3 SKYACTIV? : Well, it is a compact car with a four-cylinder engine that delivers decent power (155 horsepower) through a 6-speed automatic transmission that has a manual mode so you can extract the most from the engine. The engine is noisy at times, but it isn't annoying.

Unlike many compact cars, the Maada3 is comfortable on long rides. The front seats are comfortable and offer good side support. they're also heated, which adds to the comfort level on cold days. The rear seats are tight with regards to legroom. We also had difficulty hooking up car seats. The car is narrow, so the seat belt receiver often disappeared under the car seat.

I liked the addition of a "dead pedal" to the left of where the clutch pedal would be in a manual transmission-equipped car. It provides a place to put your foot on long drives and also reduces the chance of having your left foot slip under the brake pedal or just get in the way of other activities.

One safety advantage of the Mazda3 is a blind spot monitoring system that alerts the driver to vehicles that may be in the left or right blind spot. The Mazda3 is the first compact car we've seen with this safety advantage.

Up under the windshield is a small navigation screen that's often difficult to read (with trifocals). It also has audio information. There is no navigation offered, but the map is good. The location is good in that it doesn't intrude as much as the bigger screens located in the center of the dash.

I considered the trunk size is very good (Mazda doesn't publish cargo volumes but we guessed it's in the 12 cubic feet range). The rear seats fold flat to increase useful cargo capacity. There's a compact spare under the cargo floor.

While we mainly drove the Mazda3 around town, we did take it on one long trip to Philadelphia. We found it to be comfortable with good power on all the roads we encountered.

2012 The Auto Page