Roadshow Video Reviews
2012 Mazda Mazda3 Grand TouringWith a new, advanced engine, the 2012 Mazda3 show's Mazda's commitment to cleaner and more efficient engines, but a lack of advanced tech might just knock it down a notch.
Mazda is so proud of their little 3. They put their name on it twice but I found a few things inside that no car maker should be real proud of. Let's drive the 2012 Mazda 3 Grand Touring 5 door and check the tech. Now I applaud Mazda for putting a Nav Rig in this car at all but I don't applaud them for what they put in the car once they did that. That thing up there. No it's not a posting stamp, that's a navigation unit. They call it appropriately compact navigation. Thanks for the help on that one. Your interface is almost nil. It's not a touch screen obviously. You need a broom handle to get there anyway. Voice command doesn't operate that thing. That's just for Bluetooth hands free calling instead uses a little rocker. You go up and down, you push on it, you go left and right and that's how you enter an address. It looks like this. You set your destination, press again to do that, press again for address. Now to enter a city name, here's where the fun begins. What the hell is that? I gotta chase around this sort of square Z looking thing to find my letters and numbers. Oh and this thing all blanks out when the car is on the move. So you can't even do this even if you wanted to when the car is moving but without voice command I'll be pulling over to do that? No, actually I'll be pulling over to do this and that's the kind of compact navigation I want in a Mazda 3. Now onto the entertainment system. On this trim level we got a Bose audio system. 256 watts, 10 speakers, a powered sub, a center point to move the sound stage around. All decent sounding stuff. Sources are pretty good. AM and FM but no HD and therefore no iTunes tagging. You've got a CD slot right here. No DVD 'cause where would you watch? On that thing? Satellite radio 4 months are included. Ox gets you to 2 things. You can go to the Ox jack for analog input or Bluetooth streaming audio. Do you see anything missing? Right, no iPod or iPod USB jack. That's crazy. Now on this trim level which is kind of the middle of the 3 five door base levels. You have a 6 speed automatic only as part of the SkyActiv power train. If you go higher or lower, you end up getting the choice of a 6 feed manual but not on this guide. Now let's go see what feeds it. Now the engine in this Mazda 3 is the SkyActiv engine. A 2 liter inline-four. There's also a non-SkyActiv engine in the mix as well but this is the interesting motor but it's complicated. SkyActiv isn't 1 or 2 technologies. It's a whole bunch of technologies in one place. Starting off with high compression. Most cars are maybe at 10 to 1 compression ratio. This is a 13 to 1 says Mazda and that get's you up to like a 180 plus psi per cylinder. The point is, you get a lot more of the energy captured from each dose of fuel. Most cars only get about 30% of the energy out of a sip of gas. This one does about 15% better. Hemispherical combustion chambers. So yes it's a Hemi but no don't go drag racing any Dodge challengers and it's got headers which is kind of a hot rod trick. 4 into 2 into 1. All of that to keep those high compression cylinders from backing exhaust into each other. All in they say this has 15% better power and 15% better MPG. The numbers, 155 horsepower. 148 foot pounds of torque gets this slightly sub 3,000 pound car to 60 in about 9-1/2. Not exciting but again it's all about efficiency here and that's where this guy kinda rocks. 28/40 MPG with the automatic. You shave 1 MPG on the highway if you get the manual. That's the price of fun and finally Mazda took out 30% of the friction in drag in the engine. Again, not really sexy stuff but it's important. Underway, this guy is underwhelming. Not in a bad way. Not in a fatal way but this is a car that is as more or less gutless as it seems on paper. There's an efficiency thing going on here, not a power thing and that's fine. It just have a turbo charger on top of all of their technology that expect green with mean but it's mostly just green. As you may have noticed we've got a slapstick shiftable gate on this transmission. Pretty (guard?) and variety stuff. No paddles and that makes sense. The ride is not overly firm but the car makes it seem that way because there are a few clicks and rattles here in there I'm hearing from the back... It's just this side of civilized. I don't like the engine note either. It's got a real 4 cylinder sound to it which a lot of 4's don't have anymore but this one does. In all this is... this is typically Mazda. At least from their lower end cars. It's a very visceral car which doesn't mean it's overpowering but you get the feeling that you can hear and feel every system at work. Not my favorite idea when those systems don't sound or feel real good but again it's not a bad car. It's just not the one that pleases me on its sensory part but here's what you should take note of. Look at that display right there. That's across 235 miles of mix driving. There's a real world average calculated out to almost 26 MPG. That's real economy. All right this 2012 Mazda 3 5-door. In the Grand Touring trim more or less top of the stack. It's about 23-5 delivered. I would spend the 1,400 for the tech package that odd basket of kinda unrelated stuff but they're all pretty good and a good value at 1,400. Unfortunately you can't pry the nav out. It's part of this trim level. Although with a crowbar, you could and I think I would do that.