2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv Review – Finally, a Mazda3 that’s fun and fuel efficient

2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv Review – Finally, a Mazda3 that’s fun and fuel efficient

Posted on 16. Oct, 2012 by in In The Forums, Mazda News, Mazda3 Guide

For years Mazda has kept its dirty little secret, hiding it away in a clever marketing campaign. You know the one… “zoom zoom”. 

All that talk about driving enjoyment really helps sell the brand to enthusiasts, and it’s also not hard to win glowing reviews from auto journalists, who more often than not will overlook a few miles per gallon for a coupe of extra ponies or some half-decent handling.

But the secret is out. For years, Mazdas have delivered poor fuel economy when compared to their rivals. With compacts promising as much as 42-mpg and a 38-mpg highway rating becoming the industry norm, last year’s Mazda3 managed a best of 25/33-mpg. And that was the smaller 2.0-liter engine. Upgrade to the 2.5-liter and you could be talking about numbers as low as 20/28-mpg.


About to become un-sellable in a category quickly being populated by 40-mpg cars, Mazda has developed it’s own green technology and branded it SkyActiv. A marketing buzz-word, in the 2012 Mazda3 it’s used not only to describe a new high fuel efficiency gasoline engine, but also two new transmissions. Later models will get SkyActiv chassis.

The engine itself we were introduced to a few months back when we had the chance to sample some prototypes. Rather than one breakthrough, the powerplant is the result of numerous fuel efficiency upgrades ranging from dual variable valve timing, to direct-injection, while using components that are lighter and with reduced drag. A high 12:1 compression ratio and smaller cylinder bore also ensure quicker (and therefore better) combustion.

One thing absent from this production engine is the 4-2-1-exhaust manifold, designed to allow the engine to run at an even higher 13:1 compression ratio. As it turns out, the SkyActiv engine was never intended for the current Mazda3 but was rushed into the product cycle. That header, however, wouldn’t fit and so it had to be left out at the expense of some power and torque. The difference, says Mazda3 engineering chief Kenichiro Saruwatari is more in the low and mid-range torque. It will, however, make an appearance on the upcoming CX-5 crossover.

2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv

With a reasonable amount of power being generated, with 155-hp and 148 lb-ft of torque you wouldn’t expect the car to be lacking and under most circumstances it’s not. Off the line, however, we did find it a bit sluggish. Those power numbers show an impressive jump over the old 2.0-liter MZR 4-cylinder that’s rated at 148-hp and 135 lb-ft. But peak readouts don’t tell the whole story either with the 5 percent horsepower increase and 10 percent torque increase less significant than that 15 percent improvement in low and mid-range torque.


Getting access to the power is a bigger issue with the SkyActiv Mazda3 due to the new SkyActiv-Drive six-speed automatic transmission. Mazda engineers boasted about its quick-shift characteristics and its responsiveness and that’s true to a certain extent. Mixing aspects of a conventional automatic and a dual-clutch transmission this innovative new unit uses a torque converter for low speeds and then switches over to a clutch for higher speeds. The result is a smooth off-the-line start, with quick shifts higher up. In fact, Mazda claims consistent 150 millisecond shift times, better than what most dual-clutch gear changes are, even on the VW DSG system. While the responsiveness is excellent, unfortunately an excessive amount of throttle pressure is required to drop gears. Testing out the Mazda’s more dynamic attributes on California’s famous Angels Crest Highway, dropping a gear often meant the pedal would have to be nearly to the floor before the car would drop gears.

2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv

While this isn’t the sort of driving most will use a compact car like the Mazda3 for, and it’s hardly the only offender in the segment (far from it), it’s not exactly in keeping with the brand’s ethos. Credited for giving the car a 7 percent fuel economy improvement, make no mistake, a 40-mpg rating comes with compromises.


Thankfully the rest of the car lives up to the Mazda brand image. Blasting along Big Tujunga Canyon Rd. the steering and chassis instill confidence thanks to four important components – the only ones that touch the road. Most high fuel-efficiency models sport ultra low rolling resistance rubber, eking out fractionally better fuel economy at the rather significant expense of cornering capability. Not Mazda. “They’re the lowest rolling resistance tires we could stand,” said vehicle development engineer Dave Coleman.

2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv

Mazda engineers like Coleman will also tell you about the new front cross member, increase b-frame thickness and added chassis brace that all work to improve rigidity and make for a quieter cabin. While improvements, the advantages aren’t perceptible to mere mortals.

Later in the day we drove the same route all over again this time in a car equipped with a six-speed manual. Hallelujah! Mazda admits that there’s not much they could have done to improve on the six-speed manual transmission, but they have done is obvious. Shift throws are reduced by 15 percent and are just as light as before making the new SkyActiv-MT the shortest shifting of any passenger car and the closest to a true sports car of any vehicle on the market. And with good-old-fashioned shift-it-yourself technology, gone was our lone complaint about the new car.

2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv

Back on the fuel economy scale the Mazda3 is impressive. Mazda brought out the complete competitive set, including a Cruze Eco, Focus SFE, Civic HF and Elantra and kept tallies on all the cars during our drive route and over the course of four waves of journalists during a week. The result placed the Mazda second at around 32-mpg average (only the Civic HF was higher). During our time behind the wheel we only managed 28-mpg, but would guarantee almost anyone would do better than our lead-footed driving.

Officially rated at 28/40-mpg (city/highway), for the sedan with the automatic transmission, those numbers change quite a bit depending on the model and transmission.  Stick-shift sedans clock 27/39-mpg, with hatchbacks at 28/39 and 27/38 respectively for the automatic and manual.


2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv

Less of a new car and more of a new engine the 2012 Mazda3 is not without other changes.  It might not look dramatically different but there is an updated front fascia and new rear bumper. Included in the front-end design are aerodynamic changes that improve the sedan model to a best-in-class 027 coefficient of drag. (Hatchbacks are rated at 0.29).

Other changes include new seating trim and new HVAC controls while SkyActiv models get blue gauge surrounds, SkyActiv badging and a stylish blue engine cover. And what mid-cycle refresh would be complete without some new wheel designs and exterior paint options?

Also of note is a segment-exclusive Blind Spot Monitoring System (only available on the 2.5L engine and not the SkyActiv), furthering Mazda’s high-end equipment offerings in this segment with other premium items like dual zone climate control, smart key, a power driver’s seat, adaptive front bi-xenon headlights and rain sensing wipers.

  2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv

An addition to the 2012 Mazda3 lineup the SkyActiv engine comes on the i Touring and i Grand Touring sedans as a mid-level trim, priced from $18,450. Hatchback models (previously only available with the 2.5L in the U.S.) get the SkyActiv engine as standard with no base level-trim, and come priced from $18,950. To help offset some of the extra cost (like VW does with it’s diesel models), Mazda has upped the content level of the SkyActiv models with extras like 16-inch aluminum wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob as well as a trip computer.

As mentioned, Mazda continues to offer the old 2.0-liter engine starting from $15,200, while s Touring models with the 167-hp 2.5L engine start at $21,300 and for the sedan and $21,800 for the hatch.  For Canadian pricing click here.


With power mid-way between the old 2.0-liter and the 2.5-liter the SkyActiv engine could almost be used as a single engine option for all Mazda3 models. But that’s not what Mazda has decided, continuing to carry on the other two. We’re thankful for the potent 2.5L with the only reason to recommend the base engine car being the price.

2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv

While the SkyActiv model may be on the volume trim level the price is no small jump from the entry-level car, costing over $3,000 more. That said, a more basic model with a more basic price, and the SkyActiv powertrain, would be nice to see.

Apart from the transmission, there are few places to find fault with this car – a high mpg vehicle that’s also enjoyable to drive hard. Stopping short of that wow factor, what the Mazda3 could use to add some sex appeal to the SkyActiv technology is a new look. The sedan continues to be a bit dorky and while the hatch is dramatic and progressive, knowing Mazda’s future design direction, what is coming down the pipe in a few years time will really give this new engine the sheetmetal it deserves.



  • 40-MPG
  • Same great Mazda handling
  • Stylish and functional hatchback

  • Hefty premium for SkyActiv
  • Automatic transmission
  • Needs some dramatic new styling to go with new technolog


Be sure to check out the full article by autoguide at:


Get the Latest Mazda 3/Mazdaspeed 3 News By Email!

We Never Spam, Ever.



27. Mar, 2014

If you want to lose weight naturally, buy Cha – LEAN Extreme.
20) a fantastic and economical high storage MP3 and FM
radio player with a memory slot for increasing the storage
space or adding preloaded music cards; however it has a fragile clip and inflexible ear buds.
In the long run sports like soccer, cricket, volleyball and other
exclusive sports events World Cup and Olympics are more enclosed because of their ideal viewership in the world which furthermore
captured a large number of the dignified viewers.

Visit my blog – raspberry ketone diet (myblogg.net)

real estate las vegas

30. Mar, 2014

Joel Teo writes on various financial topics including Las Vegas Real Estate.

Are you buying the home today as a home for
you and your family to live in, or are you buying
the home as an investment to make an immediate profit on.
There are zero-down deals out there – they just aren’t always
worth doing.

Bedroom Improvement

03. Apr, 2014

Thanks for some other informative web site. The place else could I am getting that type of info written in such an ideal approach? I’ve a mission that I’m just now running on, and I’ve been on the glance out for such info.

Top 5 Leisure Actions In Sarasota, Florida and fizjoterapia niemowlat krecz szyi.
Top 5 Leisure Actions In Sarasota, Florida

A Very Good Swimming Teacher Doesn’t Require To Be
Excellent Swimmer … and pozycjonowanie wroclaw.

A Very Good Swimming Teacher Doesn’t Require To Be Excellent Swimmer …

If they contain ingredients such as propylene glycol, ethylene
glycol, methylene chloride or phosphates, you could
be giving your immune system a run for its money each time you clean.
Fish oil does indeed contain omega-3 fatty acids, known
to be one of the most important fatty acids to include in one’s diet.
Here’s some great foods that contain ‘healthy fats’ that you can
incorporate into your diet.

Feel free to surf to my web-site: omega 3 krill oil vs fish oil

kolagen na zmarszki

25. Apr, 2014

koenzym q10 w tabletkach. Digestive Enzymes

koenzym q10 paradontoza. Herbalife Ill Effects In Health Articles

koenzym q10 tabletki

26. Apr, 2014

koenzym q10 extra. What May Be The Best Drugstore Anti Wrinkle Cream In America

najtansza chlorella

26. Apr, 2014

koenzym q10 supplement. Important Vitamins And Supplements For Seniors

nauka słowek

26. Apr, 2014

Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve visited this blog before but
after going through some of the articles I realized it’s new to me.
Nonetheless, I’m certainly delighted I came across it
and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

kwas hialuronowy

26. Apr, 2014

The Ultimate Way For Tightening Loose Skin, zastrzyki kwas hialuronowy.

When Your Personal Computer Freezes Out Of The Blue: Computer Troubleshooting
Have a potent RAM or memory. To manage unique requests from unique
desktops and complete functions at a speedy tempo, with success,
needs a good deal of RAM.

We now arrive to (optionally) connecting the graphics card.
Most motherboards only arrive with a solitary graphics card slot, immediately beneath
the motherboards ports at the study of the scenario.
It is roughly the very same dimension as the regular PCI expansion slots, but will
be established slightly in direction of the centre of the board.

When it arrives to the complications you can confront finding that
1st career, I converse from practical experience.
Currently, I have the globe’s most worthwhile computer certification and own my own laptop teaching company, but the starting of my job was incredibly, very tough.
Just acquiring an job interview when you’re looking for your 1st computer task is challenging, but I’m also dwelling
evidence that it can be carried out and you can go on to a great job.

You could have a larger funds and can acquire a barebone.
Most barebones arrive with scenario, motherboard,
electric power provide, and CPU. You just need to
have to buy memory, video, CD drives, or tough disk.
If you can applied factors from your aged machine than you help you save oneself extra cash.
Barebones typically begin at $169 for what I mentioned right here.
Selling prices change relying on motherboard and CPU that you want.

These viruses distribute in numerous methods
doable. It might differ in its action relying upon
the operating process mounted and the presence
of specified documents.Hideout: In the initial period, these viruses tend to hide in the memory as the resident
viruses do; then they infect the tough disk.

Installation of the new RAM is commonly quite straight ahead.
You just pop it into very little slots on your desktops motherboard.
No other configuration or application needs to be set up, the computer
system need to recognize the new RAM once it boots up.
On the other hand, you should examine the computers handbook ahead of making an attempt an enhance because
each and every personal computer is slightly diverse.

And, printing, well, her printer nevertheless operates immediately after all these yrs, but it’s a
minor gradual and lot creaky and incredibly cranky.

There are new rules, principles that occur with age I guess, that I have to
abide by. zastrzyki kwas hialuronowy The Ultimate Way For Tightening Loose
Skin zastrzyki kwas hialuronowy

koenzym q10 paradontoza. Coq10 Suggested To Be Put Into Standard Heart Failure Therapy

This site was… how do you say it? Relevant!!
Finally I’ve found something that helped me. Appreciate it!


05. May, 2014

If you have been using chemical-based makeup products, which are the most
commonly used makeup products on the market today, you
may not know how it could be negatively impacting your appearance in the long
run. Make sure you attend to these request the day before, the
day of and the day after your procedure to create optimal results and have a great experience all the
way around. Anybody can use these as they are not targeting anyone with special features.

my homepage jailbreak.myblogg.net

Halloween Traditional Scary Mask – What does
the word ‘scary’ mean to you. Once this has been done they fold the
paper again and repeat this step, until only one couple is
standing on their island. s smiling picture, but never hesitate to tell them that you.

Here is my web blog: chicago pizza and oven grinder chicago il – http://pizza.myblogg.net/

Market samurai review

07. May, 2014

It’s an remarkable piece of writing designed for all the online viewers; they will obtain benefit from it I am sure.

Feel free to surf to my homepage; Market samurai review


08. May, 2014

You can choose from vinyl, tile, natural stone, wood, cork or
laminate. Usually this is not the case and you should ask about that before you join.
Some factors to consider in making the choice about which Generac generator is right for your home
include the following:.

Here is my web-site home alone 2 movie, couponsshop1.com,

about athletic greens

14. May, 2014

Super food – 1-2 tubs (primal greens, primal reds).
For more, effective natural acne remedies, see part 2 of this article.
When you give your body a daily dose of these super foods it’s
like renovating your body the way someone would renovate an old house that has
seen better days.

It also provides corporates with detailed analytics for all their agents helping them monitor the progress of thousands of local agents and franchises.
Even the smallest of small companies today is incorporating.
Most of us have strong feelings about Valentine’s Day;.

Look at my site: monex current gold and silver prices
precious metals (http://www.pregnancyinfo.info)

spirulina kup teraz

16. Jun, 2014

laptops fot useing hotspot and benefits of spirulina.
laptops fot useing hotspot

Chi Krumwiede

30. Jun, 2014

People on forums say there is no working roulette system, you can’t
beat it in the long run, but i’m using bluehand roulette
system for weeks and it earns me decent money everyday, maybe couple of weeks is
not a long run, maybe i am lucky

boom beach cheats

19. Jul, 2014

I like the helpful information you provide in your articles.
I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly.
I’m quite certain I will learn many new stuff right here!

Good luck for the next!

Check out my page: boom beach cheats

Can you offer you an assurance or warrantee of the solutions.
Talk to my web page link and see extra information about Millionaire Strategies Revealed.

The price which you or possibly your company need to bear
for giving offers via worldwide courier services rely
upon the space the package need to vacation along with the region that it is going
to be shipped.

Hey! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which
blog platform are you using for this site? I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had problems with
hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform.
I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a
good platform.


22. Sep, 2014

cheap viagra

Inspiring story there. What happened after? Thanks!

constantly i used to read smaller posts which also clear
their motive, and that is also happening with this post which I am reading now.

party ideas

26. Sep, 2014

Hi, after reading this remarkable article i am also happy
to share my know-how here with friends.


21. Oct, 2014

The backend part of your company supports these profit
centers. Then consider yourself one of the few,
true internet marketers. To report stolen email addresses at Yahoo,
click Yahoo.


23. Oct, 2014

They are a very good way to promote business service. As the culture of internet slang grew, it took on new origins from pop culture or
video games and television. Make certain that the payment gateway you are
making use of, permits similar languages as the remaining of the web pages so
that they can match well together.


03. Jan, 2015

Thank you for any other informative web site.
The place else may just I am getting that type of info written in such an ideal approach?

I’ve a project that I’m just now operating on, and I’ve
been at the glance out for such information.

czasowniki nieregularne

30. Jan, 2015

Swimming Principle and dobry okujlista szczecin poland.
Swimming Principle

Texas Swimming Holes and okulista dzieciecy szczecin litwinska.
Texas Swimming Holes

SLim XO Cleanse DIet

15. Feb, 2015

Hello it’s me, I am also visiting this web site on a regular
basis, this website is actually nice and the visitors are genuinely sharing nice thoughts.


19. Feb, 2015

Software paying out your workers is usually a economic climate we come with spend any time by way of clients onto.
An personal should perhaps get everyday eye tests in perform to switch vision lenses, treat problems, and to be able to diagnose disease.
All all the best to produce your more business partnership.

Prima cleanse

26. Feb, 2015

An intriguing discussion is worth comment. There’s no doubt that that you
should publish more about this subject, it might not be a taboo
subject but usually people do not talk about such
issues. To the next! Cheers!!

czesci ciagniki rolnicze

22. Apr, 2015

dell computers and okulista szczecin prawobrzeze medyk. dell computers


12. May, 2015

I blog frequently and I truly thank you for your information. Your article has truly peaked my interest.

I am going to take a note of your website and keep checking
for new information about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS
feed as well.

agario extended version

31. Aug, 2015

Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it, you will be
a great author.I will make sure to bookmark your blog and will often come back later
on. I want to encourage continue your great job, have a nice weekend!


17. Feb, 2016

You’re so interesting! I don’t believe I’ve read
through anything like this before. So nice to find someone with
a few original thoughts on this subject matter.

Really.. thanks for starting this up. This website is something that’s
needed on the internet, someone with some originality!


06. Jun, 2016

This car is my favorite of all times! thank you for sharing my passion and hope we can get more mazda3 in the near future. Monike from MLM Software

aircond murah

06. Jun, 2016

We’re a bunch of volunteers and starting a brand
new scheme in our community. Your site offered us with helpful info to work on. You’ve done an impressive activity and our whole group will be grateful to you.

harga peti ais

13. Jun, 2016

Hello Dear, are you really visiting this website
regularly, if so after that you will absolutely obtain pleasant knowledge.

Leave a reply