Mazda finally has brought its SKYACTIV fuel-saving and performance technologies to North America, adding the innovative equipment to the popular 2012 Mazda3.
Redesigned for the 2010 model year, the 2012 Mazda3’s exterior has been refined for a bolder look, and given a new front fascia and an updated five-point grille opening for both the sedan and hatchback styles.
The refreshed exterior also includes unique new 16-inch and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheel designs. The 16-inch wheel has 10 twisted-surface spokes (increased from the current seven-spoke design) and the 17-inch wheel has enlarged openings between each spoke. Designs for the 16-inch steel wheels and 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels are unchanged.
In addition to the Mazda3’s MZR 2.0-liter dual-overhead-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine (available only on iSV and Sport sedan models), a new high-efficiency direct-injection SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter gasoline engine is offered now. It is the standard power in the Mazda3 iTouring and Grand Touring models and is mated to the new SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission or the optional new SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmission. The iTouring and Grand Touring trims are available in either sedan or hatchback body styles.
The MZR 2.0-liter engine continues to be available with the five-speed manual gearbox as standard equipment. Mazda3 iSport models also are available with the five-speed automatic as an option.
The SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter engine is about 4.4 pounds lighter than the old MZR engine and uses multi-hole injectors for enhanced fuel spray, along with specially developed piston cavity shapes that ensure a shorter combustion time and suppress the impact on power and torque from engine knocking.
Fuel economy gets a boost from the combination of a SKYACTIV engine and transmission. When equipped with the SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter engine and optional SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmission, the 2012 Mazda3 sedan gets an EPA rated 40 mpg on the highway, a 21 percent improvement.
With a fuel tank capacity of 14.5 gallons, the 2012 Mazda3 sedan with SKYACTIV technology has a 540-mile range.
Also, previously only available with the MZR 2.5-liter engine, the Mazda3 five-door hatchback model is offered now in the U.S. with the SKYACTIV-G gasoline engine.
Pricing on the base 2012 Mazda3 starts at $15,200 and $18,450 with SKYACTIV technology.
Ron Beasley is the automotive editor for Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277, ext. 261, or by addressing email correspondence to LetsTalkCars@aol.com.