2012 Mazda 3: Clatter
September 26, 2012
Our Mazda3's Skyactiv 2.0-liter makes a righteous clatter on start-up, which lasts for about 30 seconds thereafter. JayKav covered this already, but until I read his piece, I assumed the brief racket owed to some direct-injection freakout that ultimately helped the Mazda3 achieve its impressive fuel economy. But Jay says it's actually related to stronger exhaust pulses vibrating the thin walls of the exhaust manifold until the catalyst heats up and the engine settles into a pleasant, regular four-cylinder hush.
Good to know, but the rattling can't help but remind you of a diesel. It made me wonder how the SkyActiv D 2.2-liter diesel will sound when it eventually arrives in a future 3 model. Not that Mazda has confirmed this; the company hasnt said boo about which models get the 2.2-liter. The CX-5 and re-designed Mazda6 seem like safe money, but we can't see Mazda marketing missing an opportunity to pepper TV screens and Facebook with a 60-mpg Mazda3 ad campaign.
Mazda will first try out the Skyactiv-D in the Japan-market CX-5 next spring, then shortly after in the U.S. with its Grand-Am racing teams in the new GX class, using the engine shown above. A long-range, high-MPG Mazda3 that also goes racing? Bring the ruckus, I say.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor