Mazda hasn’t lost any of that “zoom zoom” with the release of the their 2012 Mazda3 i Touring. This time around Mazda has upped the ante with the new SkyActive powertrain. What does this mean for the consumer? How about a fuel economy of 27 mpg for the city and 39 mpg for highway. Without sacrificing the looks of the interior or soft sports car look of the exterior, the Mazda3 i Touring is a solid automobile that is suitable for the young professional or college kid as well as the on the go mom who wants a little extra pep in her gas pedal at an affordable price.
The Mazda3 i Touring model with the SkyActive powertrain starts at a base price of $18,700 for the 4 door sedan. This a very realistic price for a solid piece of machinery that can handle both street driving as well as long highway driving with a breeze. The interior of the model we tested had sleek black leather seats and a dash with curvaceous aerodynamic lines. While the interiors of the car had an overwhelming masculine feel, the steering wheel was on the smallish side, providing you with a solid grip while moving the Mazda3 i Touring on the road. Furthermore, we will say the placement of the display for the clock and NAV system is very smart. Instead of the driver being forced to look away from their steering wheel to know what is the next street to turn down, the placement of the NAV screen is within eyeshot of the drivers steering wheel. This makes it easy to know the next move, without taking your eyes off the road.
However, the one downside is the fact that driver is the one who controls this particular NAV system via the steering wheel. The passenger can not program it or change it. So if you are going in the wrong direction, you will have to pull over and change your route. We also found that the NAV was not that intuitive at times, forcing you to re-enter your city over and over when in fact you just wanted to edit your previous destination. With all the controls on the steering wheel and shifting keys up and down. It does take a solid 10 minutes to configure your next move correctly. We were finally able to master the system and knock down the time to about 5 minutes.
The sliding-glass moonroof and 265-watt, 10 speaker Bose surround system are also add-on packages to the Mazda3 i Touring that are a must. The speaker system was crisp and clear and sounded like a band was in the backseat with us as we drove along the highway. While the speakers don’t sound as impressive when just playing Sirius or an average radio station. Just pop in a CD or connect your smartphone or external audio device in via the AUX and those speakers shine through. It’s a warm balanced listening experience that we have come to expect from Bose.
The tunes are pumping and the road is your oyster, but can the Mazda3 i Touring live up to the challenge of being a fast car without guzzling enough gas to make you broke? – YES. The acceleration of the Mazda3 got us on and off of ramps in seconds when we floored our brakes to 40mph. We were able to maintain steady control when we pushed the Mazda3 i Touring with SkyActive to its limits at 100mph. Lastly we got from New York City to Lake Champlain, NY, on a full tank of gas with a combination of 460 street and highway miles burned. That is with a few pit stops at Dunkin’ Dounts and Starbucks along the way.
In the end the Mazda3 proved to be a champ. It is a stellar car that exhumes solid performance without sacrifice. It has good trunk space for luggage and a few boxes. It’s backseats flip down too, making it ok to take to IKEA. It handled with aplomb on the road, has a tight suspension, looks good, and runs super quiet. While it may not be a super feminine looking car, this is one chica that didn’t mind getting her zoom zoom on. The 2012 Mazda3 i Touring with SkyActiv is available now.
The Good: Solid performance and suspension, great gas mileage, smart location of the NAV screen, good price.
The Bad: NAV system is not that intuitive and not touch. An overwhelmingly masculine interior.