Does Technology Make A Segment Leader?
Want to give yourself a headache? Go out and shop for a new compact sedan with the stipulation that it must have seating for up to five passengers and a highway EPA fuel economy rating in the high-30-mpg range or better. You won’t have to look hard, because it seems nearly every automaker is jumping into an already crowded segment and delivering this type of vehicle. Without much effort, we can alphabetically list the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla. Spend a bit more time, and the list opens up even wider.
Sticker prices, fuel economy numbers and warranty terms are objective and indubitable. Driving dynamics, styling and passenger comfort, in sharp contrast, are subjective. To differentiate itself from the crowd, and win consumers over on both fronts, Mazda has worked hard to deliver a competitive compact that is objectively frugal and subjectively stylish while still being fun to drive.
Enter the new 2012 Mazda3 Skyactiv.
Fitted with a new high-compression engine and offered with two new transmissions, the latest of the Mazda’s energy-efficient variants sounds impressive on paper – but so do most redesigned cars at first glance. We recently spent a day in Southern California putting the updated Mazda3 Skyactiv through its paces to determine if the Japanese automaker has really provided us with something revolutionary, or just another round of marketing hype.