2012 Mazda3 reaches 40 mpg with SkyActiv tech

The 2012 Mazda3 debuts at the New York auto show with a new 40 mpg SkyActiv drive train.

The 2012 Mazda3's new exterior style is also more aerodynamic.
The 2012 Mazda3's new exterior style is also more aerodynamic. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

At the 2011 New York auto show, Mazda unveiled the revised and slightly reshaped Mazda3. You'd have to do a double take to spot any of the subtle cosmetic differences between the new 2012 model and the outgoing 2011, but pop the hood and you you'll find yourself staring at an entirely new drive train. Actually, you'll find yourself staring at a bright blue cosmetic engine cover, but beneath that is an all new drive train that uses Mazda's SkyActiv efficiency technologies.

Starting with the power plant, the 2.0-liter SkyActiv-G engine uses gasoline direct injection with multihole injectors, specially developed piston cavity shapes, and an absurdly high compression ratio to deliver more power (155 horsepower) and more torque (148 pound-feet) than the previous MZR 2.0-liter. Then engine is also 4.4 pounds lighter and more efficient to boot.

Beneath this bright blue engine cover is the new direct-injected SkyActiv-G engine.
Beneath this bright blue engine cover is the new direct-injected SkyActiv-G engine. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The SkyActiv-Drive transmission aids the new engine in achieving 40 highway mpg.
The SkyActiv-Drive transmission aids the new engine in achieving 40 highway mpg. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Torque leaves the SkyActiv-G through one of two transmission options. The SkyActiv-MT is a relatively conventional six-speed manual transmission that delivers 27 city and 39 highway mpg. The SkyActiv-Drive is a six-speed automatic transmission that is more aggressive with its torque converter lockup, creating a more direct connection between the engine and the wheels for less drive-train torque loss and higher efficiency. Working together, the SkyActiv G and SkyActiv-Drive equipped Mazda3 hits the magic mark of 40 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in the city.

Additionally, the 2012 Mazda3 and Mazdaspeed3 will see an interior refresh with new trim materials and colors coming available and small revisions to the mulit-information display's user interface. A blind spot monitoring system joins the safety tech options list, as do adaptive front headlamps that aim into a turn depending on vehicle speed and steering angle.

 

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