Vehicle Profile: The 2012 MAZDA3 5-Door
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Few vehicles are as practical as a five-door hatchback. They offer an unbeatable combination of easily accessible and generous cargo room, five-passenger seating, high fuel efficiency and affordability. Although there are a slew of five-door hatchbacks to choose from, the MAZDA3 has consistently been the top choice of the automotive press and consumers alike. It offers an incredible balance of style, performance, value and, of course, practicality, and for 2012, the improvements keep coming.
The 2012 MAZDA3 5-Door (MSRP $18,950) is available in i Touring, i Grand Touring and s Grand Touring models, but the big news for 2012 comes in the powertrain department. New Mazda SKYACTIV® technology has produced a gasoline engine with a “sky-high” 13:1 compression ratio to squeeze more energy out of every drop of fuel; together with advanced direct fuel injection and other modifications, the result is 10 to 15 percent more low/mid-range torque and 15 percent lower fuel consumption and emissions than the previous 2.0-liter.
The i Touring and i Grand Touring both come standard with the new Mazda SKYACTIV®-G 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 155 hp and 148 lb/ft of torque. This engine, with available SKYACTIV®-MT six-speed manual or SKYACTIV®-Drive six-speed Sport automatic, comes in with an EPA estimated 39 mpg highway rating (more than 500 miles on a single tank of gas).
The s Grand Touring comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that cranks out 167 hp and 168 lb/ft of torque through the front wheels. Buyers can either opt for the standard six-speed manual transmission or an available five-speed Sport automatic. The 2.5-liter powerplant delivers an ideal balance of performance and efficiency, and up to 38 mpg highway.
Like every Mazda, the MAZDA3 is endowed with exceptional handling characteristics. For 2012, the new SKYACTIV® body and chassis deliver an eight percent weight reduction with a 30 percent increase in structural rigidity, which further improves handling qualities. Unlike less athletic competitors, the MAZDA3 communicates clearly with the driver through lively steering, a finely tuned suspension that soaks up bumps without being too harsh and a chassis with minimal flex or roll.
Even if you’re not much into back road driving, the refined ride qualities of the MAZDA3 still shine through, especially on long sections of freeway. Road noise and vibrations are kept to an absolute minimum, making the MAZDA3 feel like a much larger and more expensive vehicle.
Another area where the MAZDA3 exceeds its price tag is its interior quality. The textured dashboard and soft-touch materials used throughout cannot be found in any other hatchback approaching its price range. Even the entry i Touring is equipped with a leather-trimmed shiftknob and steering wheel.
Not only is the interior of the MAZDA3 high in build quality, its sporty design theme is also exceptionally pleasing to the eyes. Red electroluminescent gauge faces combined with tasteful brushed silver trim pieces and intuitive control interfaces put the MAZDA3 interior in a class of its own.
The i Touring is outfitted with 16-inch alloy wheels, a six-speaker stereo with CD player and MP3 capability, an auxiliary input jack, Bluetooth® hands-free phone capability, remote keyless entry and a Multi-Information Display.
The i Grand Touring adds heated side mirrors, an eight-way power driver’s seat, leather trimmed seats, a Bose® Centerpoint® Surround-Sound CD/MP3 audio system with AudioPilot® and 10 speakers and a compact navigation system with color display.
The s Grand Touring adds halogen foglamps, power side mirrors with integrated turn signals, roof-mounted spoiler and 17-inch alloy wheels. Mazda Advanced Keyless entry and start system, welcome lighting and high-contrast gauges also make the list.
Grand Touring models can be outfitted with the Technology Package, which includes automatic Self-Leveling Bi-Xenon High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights with Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), rain-sensing wipers, Blind Spot Monitoring System, SiriusXM® Satellite Radio with four-month subscription, an anti-theft system and Nagare-inspired illuminated headlight details. The i Touring can be equipped with a Moonroof and Bose® Package, which adds a power sliding-glass moonroof with sunshade and the Bose Centerpoint system (both standard on Grand Touring trims).
Outside, the MAZDA3 keeps the sporting theme going with available chrome-tipped dual exhaust and a “Nagare”-inspired theme – a hand-sculpted approach to exterior design, which emulates the powerful, yet elegant flowing beauty of nature – consistent with all Mazda vehicles.
And when it comes to awards, you’ll have to fold the second-row seats down so you can use all 42.8 cubic feet of cargo space in the MAZDA3 5-Door to accommodate its accolades. Cars.com voted it 2010 Best Deal for Driving Fun, MotorWeek awarded it a 2010 Driver’s Choice - Best Small Car and, perhaps the most coveted award, a 2011 Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
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Looking to Save?
Check here for Dealer Specials.