2012 Mazda 3 i Touring 4dr Sedan w/SKYACTIV-G (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
After driving the car a while, it's easy to forget how peppy this little compact really is. So, to remind myself, I let my friends take it out for a spin every now and then, and when they push the pedal down and let off the clutch, and when you watch the inevitable Zoom Zoom smile spread across their faces, you remember why you bought it.
Make no mistake: The 3 is no sports car, and calling it sporty for its class is like calling a Mr. Coffee pot "gourmet." But the Mazda 3 feels like a sportier car than it is, and that's why most people love driving it. If you can get your hands on a SkyActiv with a manual like I did, you'll realize those modest 155 ponies pull more than their weight.
Did I mention the SkyActiv-G engine? It's an impressive piece of machinery, delivering good horsepower (for a compact) while getting impressive real-world gas mileage. I drive conservatively in mostly city settings, and I average about 34 mpg. On long highway trips, it's not that hard to beat the EPA-estimated 40, either. I also like the Dune interior and the fold-down seats, which offer considerable cargo space, as does the spare wheel cavity under the trunk (seriously, check that out. It's easy to fit fix a flat, a window scraper and jumper cables in there with the donut).
A little more passenger space in the backseat would be a huge plus. As a 6-foot fella, I pity the fool who has to ride directly behind me. And although I like the interior, it is terribly outdated and half the controls on the CD player are useless (but then, so is the CD player thanks to the bluetooth and aux input).
If you're looking for a car you'll love driving that can largely ignore gas stations, and if you don't need a cream-of-the-crop interior, the Mazda is by far the best choice in the class.
I traded in my Honda Civic for this car and I am now a Mazda guy after loving my Honda. I test drove and researched many of makes and models, but ended up finding Mazda was just a better car and then the price made it even better. The car is a blast to drive and I do drive very hard, but still return an average of 34mpg for 50/50 city/hwy driving. The car handles great, but does have a tight suspension where I feel all the bumps, but that is because the roads in Indiana are awful. The controls are great and easy to use. (no navigation). There is plenty of room for 4 adults and our luggage. I love the versatility of the Hatchback.
The sporty drive and feel. The versatility of the hatchback. The controls are easy to read and find. A manual transmission (hard to find now days). Lots of cup holders and storage.
More options with the manual transmission! The info screen needs to give more info, for example when the radio is on, display the artist and song title. A light in the trunk/hatch area that turns on when the lift gate is opened.
2012 Mazda 3 i Touring 4dr Sedan w/SKYACTIV-G (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
I had to drive my '98 Civic today because the wife needed the Mazda, and I was literally relieved to not be driving this car.
Mainly because it's incredibly uncomfortable. The seats are rock-hard, the whole cabin is cramped, there is NO rear legroom if the front passengers are normal-sized, the steering wheel never stays straight (apparently "sporty handling" means "have to make constant adjustments to the steering wheel even when driving straight"), the headrests are awkward and stiff, and you feel EVERY bump in the road.
The little things about this car, like cupholders that a cup gets lost in and a trunk that DOESN'T pop open (unlike every other car I've ever owned), just add to it.
I will say that it gets decent mileage (fairly close to the EPA combined rating of 33) and it isn't bad compared to other cars in this class when it comes to acceleration. It didn't exceed my expectations, but I can't knock it in those areas area.
It definitely does have "sporty" handling, but unless you plan to spend all of your time maneuvering around orange cones in a parking lot, it won't compensate for the issues you'll face in all of your non-sporty driving.
Basically, if you're thin and short and never plan on having any rear seat passengers, and don't mind an uncomfortable ride in exchange for decent pep and gas mileage, then this is your car.
Yes, I realize I should have noticed these things before purchasing, but apparently two test-drives weren't enough to recognize just how much of an issue the (lack of) ride comfort and (lack of) space were going to be.
2012 Mazda 3 i Touring 4dr Sedan w/SKYACTIV-G (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
I have been driving this car for a month now. The fuel economy in this thing is really incredible. I've had five Honda civics in the pass... but this little Mazda beats them all !!!. Also handles the road really nice.. This Sky-activ engine is super smooth and refined... The value in this car is hands down unbeatable.
...set cruise @ 65 through one full tank. Since then my last 5 full tanks have gone from steady 37-38 to over 40mpg, peaking at 42.5 (doing math). It can be done you just have to be smart. Cruise helps more than I thought. Lifetime computer average @ 38.3 after 13k so far. Traded Rio after Kia lied about mpg. 3 is bigger, more fun to drive and much more efficient. A few more standard features would help but my smartphone covers most I would want. Easiest self oil change car I've owned. Next gen looks better but probably more $. Seats more for sport than comfort. Feels solid/reliable. Ride slightly harsh, but drove NJ-FL without chronic injury. Space is useable, lower cargo floor would help.
Unlike others Skyactiv Tech is not hype. 475-525 mile tank range. Check out Fuelly. It's not just me. Love the hatch option. Save the manuals! You can customize the turn signal clicker volume...brilliant. Rear headrests don't have to be removed to fold the seats flat.
-Extra long sun visors to, ya know, cover more than 20 percent of the side window.
-Softer suspension option.
-More detailed trip computer.
-Less stiff seating.
-Power window switches seem too far forward.