2012 Mazda MAZDA3 i Skyactiv-G: The Line Between Too Firm and Just Right
January 17, 2012
I spent the weekend in our 2012 Mazda 3 Skyactiv-G and put mostly freeway miles on it. I like the way our car rides. It's highly controlled. No matter what kind of pavement you encounter, the suspension is able to cope with it. It never gets unsettled, and this builds up your confidence. No other car in this class feels this good.
However, I'll admit that the setup on our i Grand Touring model (with P205/55R16 89H Bridgestone Turanza EL400 tires) toes my personal threshold for ride compliance. Which is to say, it's great the way it is now, but I wouldn't want it to ride any firmer than it does now. (Which makes me a bit of hypocrite, given how I loved on the stiff-riding Mazdaspeed 3.)
After renting a Ford Focus SEL hatchback (seen after the jump parked outside an atmospheric Microtel at night) last week in Michigan, I can understand why someone might drive both of these cars and prefer the Ford's slightly cushier ride. Arguably, the Focus feels more luxurious, though less fun than the 3.
Still, for a personal vehicle, I'd go with the Mazda, as I prefer its sharp-shifting six-speed automatic to the Ford's dual-clutch box, along with the freer-revving character of its newer engine (the Focus 2.0-liter is based on the old MZR motor that's still the base engine in the Mazda 3). Also, I'm not really a fan of the Ford's electric power steering -- not enough feel and I found myself making tiny on-center corrections on I-94 and U.S. 23.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 4,050 miles