Still A Lot of Fun - 2012 Mazda Mazda3 Long-Term Road Test

2012 Mazda Mazda3 Long Term Road Test

2012 Mazda Mazda3 i Touring Skyactiv: Still A Lot of Fun

August 15, 2012

2012 Mazda Mazda3

I still haven't gotten tired of driving our long-term 2012 Mazda 3 Skyactiv around Southern California. Oh sure, sometimes I wish we'd gotten the six-speed manual gearbox, but in the budget car class, you're really not going to do any better than this automatic. It's not perfect, but quick downshifts are what I care about, and this transmission delivers.

What's more, I'm still smitten by how quickly the Mazda responds to steering inputs. If I had the time, I'd take it on a back road every week -- it's that entertaining. We were at Dodger Stadium over the weekend for the L.A. stop of Ford's Focus ST autocross event. My spouse had signed up, and I ended up getting a turn behind wheel as well. And indeed, the Focus ST is as fun as we said in our first drive, probably better than the Mazdaspeed 3 (although maybe not on GMR) and of course way quicker than our workaday Mazda 3 Skyactiv.

Yet, I felt zero disappointment as got back into the 3. For the money, you won't find a more entertaining commuter car. If I owned this car, though, I'd already be looking for a different, probably more expensive tire to replace these really very all-season Bridgestone Turanzas when they wear out. They're squeally around turns and road noise is considerable. Not sure than new rubber would fix the latter, but I'd try a different tire anyway, especially one that offered a bit more grip.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 13,313 miles

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