2012 Mazda MAZDA3 Skyactiv: Not So Zoom-Zoom
April 05, 2012
We were out testing our long-term Mazda 3 Skyactiv a couple days ago, and I was fortunate to run the test numbers. Fortunate, because our test track is the best and safest way to find a car's limits.
What I found was a bit of a let-down.
Not so much the acceleration times (full numbers will be published soon, and I don't want to spoil the surprise for you guys). It's an economy car, so I wasn't expecting much in the way of pure Go. But rather, it was the 3's handling and braking numbers that proved a bit sub-standard. At least for Mazda.
The problem? The steering and well-tuned suspension are trying to write checks the low-grip, high-fuel-mileage tires can't cash (hmm...why does that suddenly remind me of my own bank account?). Anyway, the blame goes to the Bridgestone Turanza EL400 tires, which run out of grip before you can say, "Why won't this car turn for the next slalom cone?"
How important are tires? We went 3.4 mph quicker through the slalom in a 2011 Mazda 3 fitted with Yokohama Avid S34s.
On the bright side, so far we're averaging 29.8 mpg. Which isn't bad considering how many of our editors are either driving around town or muddling through stop-and-go traffic.
The problem, though, is that another long-termer on staff, the Chevrolet Sonic LTZ turbo, exhibits markedly better handling than the 3, yet is returning 29.4 mpg.
I think you can guess which one I'd rather drive.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 7,448 miles.