Mazda 3 i Touring sedan 4-doors review
Every time I drive a Mazda product, the truth of their adverThere are still 16-inch steel base wheels and optional 18-inch wheels, but they look the same. The result of these larger wheels is to make the already sporty look of the Mazda3 better planted on the road. Today, there’s no such thing as wheels that are too big.
The thing people forget is that the bigger the wheel, the lower the profile of the tire. That’s good for handling – lower profile tires have stiffer sidewalls, making for better turning grip as the tires stay more planted on the road. But you do pay a price in ride comfort, as the tire, being stiffer, transmits more of the road dynamics into the suspenision, and therefore into the cabin.
I thought the 17-inch wheel and tire was a good compromise between the truth of the Mazda3 s compact-car existence and the genetic zoom zoom that can’t be denied.
Mazda’s using the term SKYACTIV to indicate their new mechanical processes to make a Mazda more “green.” If you prefer not to have the SKYACTIV systems, you’ll still get a four-cylinder 2.0-liter engine, but attached to a five-speed manual or automatic that delivers less power. The SKYACTIV engine will see a lot of use on various Mazda lines, but this is the first use of it in the U.S.tising tag line strikes home. They all exhibit zoom zoom. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, then there are plenty of alternatives in this dog-eat-dog compact car segment.
The under-$20-grand Mazda3 is taut, quick, balanced and fun to drive, and Mazda certainly has the right to brag about that. The Mazda3 is the company’s best-selling car globally and accounts for two-thirds of the cars sold here.
The Mazda3 was refreshed for 2012, so there aren’t a lot of changes for this model year.
There are new 16- and 17-inch wheels. They’re both aluminum alloy, but the look of the two is quite different. There are 10 twisted spokes on the 16-inch wheels on the SKYACTIV-G two-liter models. The 17-inch wheels that come on the MZR 2.5-liter models have larger openings between each spoke, making the wheels look lighter and allowing more of the brake and caliper to show.
The Mazda3 I drove was the refreshed Mazda3 i Touring 4-Door with a list price of $19,245. Powered by their SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter gasoline engine, mine had a six-speed automatic transmission, although there’s also a six-speed manual that’s standard.
The powerplant generates 155 hp. and 148 lb.-ft. of peak torque. With the automatic transmission, the Mazda3 earns an EPA rating of 28 mpg in city driving and 40 mpg on the highway.
While the powertrain generates a decent amount of power for this class of car, it isn’t really what you notice about the Mazda3’s performance capability. Mazda engineers have taken much the same type of running gear and tweaked them to focus on handling.
The steering is controlled by an electric power steering system, which is nothing unusual in this segment. The same is true for the suspension setup and brakes. But judicious tuning of the bits in the steering, brakes and suspension makes the Mazda3 feel different.
Much as the television commercials suggest, this is a fun car to drive. Thus, the Mazda3 is a $20,000 car that does all the things you want a compact car to do with ease, but it also makes trips involving decent roads just a bit more fun than the competition.
For some, that means little. For me, it’s a deciding factor.