I'd Buy One - 2012 Mazda 3 Long-Term Road Test

2012 Mazda 3 Long Term Road Test

2012 Mazda 3: I'd Buy One

September 3, 2012

I'm not in the market for a car, but were I after a do-all daily driver a 2012 Mazda 3 like our longtermer would be high on the list. I'd go for the manual gearbox, of course, even though the auto is quite good.

The 3 has perennially been a strong player but it took the injection of serious fuel economy via its SkyActiv 2.0-liter powertrain to propel it into the 'no-brainer' category of my book. We've seen that it delivers outstanding fuel economy in the real world, too, and isn't just playing some window sticker game. 

That's not to say I wouldn't mind some extra grunt in the 3. With the 2.0-liter, it's adequate, but wouldn't it be great if...

...the recently-announced 2.5-liter SkyActiv  in the upcoming 2014 Mazda 6 found its way into the 3? 

After all, the SkyActiv bits are all interchangeable like Legos, and in US guise the 2.5 will generate something like 175 hp and 170 lb-ft by my estimation. Just the right dose of extra motivation I'd like to see in the 3. 

I'm guessing this pairing of 2.5 to 3 won't happen -- if it does indeed happen -- until the current-generation 3 is replaced with an all-new one in model year 2015. And a 2.5-equipped 3 is likely to drop a couple of mpg compared to the 2.0... hmm. Yeah, a SkyActiv-D (diesel)-equipped 3 would be awesome, but would also likely be expensive.  

What'd be your preferred future powertrain for the 3 -- 2.5-liter gasoline? Or diesel? Manual or auto?

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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