2012 Mazda3 More Efficient, Less Smiley

The 2012 Mazda3, which debuted at an auto show in Canada this week, will indeed receive the new global 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine the automaker is dubbing “SKYActive.” What does that mean? Basically it has direct injection and uses lightweight materials to boost both fuel efficiency and torque by 15%.

Mazda needs to get better mileage because it’s far behind its compact-class competition in that category. The current Mazda3 gets an EPA-estimated 24/33/27 mpg city/highway/combined. A 15% boost would take that combined figure to 31 mpg and the highway number to 38 mpg, putting the car closer to its rivals. However, Honda just announced the 2012 Civic will get 39 mpg highway, and the new Hyundai Elantra gets 40 mpg highway.

At least the 2012 Mazda3 won’t be as far behind in fuel economy.

Mazda has also toned down the smiley face look of the Mazda3 with a more angular grille. We can’t really see much difference to the rear of the car, and we can’t stand the new wheels, which look like they belong on a Pontiac Vibe, shown in these photos.

We’d expect to get more details and better specifications on the new Mazda3 when we get closer to its fall on-sale date. In an unusual turn of events, Mazda is using the U.S. as its launch market for these new engines.




By David Thomas | February 17, 2011 | Comments (13)
Tags: Mazda, Mazda3



As an owner of 2011 Mazda3 I can declare that 2L with manual even today easily beats 24/33 estimates. My car regularly returns above 30 MPG mixed. Clear HWY ride was 36mpg. And the worst one was 28+mpg. And this is winter and I like to get into a warm car. When weather was good I was averaging 33mpg 80% HWY.

The new look. I said already that a car like this should have an aggressive grill. Also, current smiley grill looks terrible on pics and not that bad in person. the one on the picture above doesn't bring any improvement on the pic. Will see in person.

I agree on the wheels. They look like they came off Chevy Cavalier or something http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/chevrolet-cavalier-32.jpg
Not the classiest shoes for an athlete Mazda3 is.

Any news on 2L application to Wagon?

Amuro Ray

It was LESS than 1 year ago since Mazda debuted the Sky series:


It looked marvelous back then, with 43 mpg on diesel (fwy)..

And boy, look how behind those #s look TODAY.


Less smiley... definitely not enough though.

the powertrains were announced yes, but not a 2012 model with on sale date set etc.

Diesel is not likely coming to north america either.


I love my 2009 Mazda 5 but I only get 25 mpg with about 50% city driving. Meh. Great car though--stylish and loaded compared to other compacts.

Ken L.

Mazda could only do so much with a refresh, though I hope they are willing to step up to the plate with upcoming models based on the Shinari concept. It's time to stand out from the crowd. So far, I think the new Elantra is the most appealing compact car.

Doug G

Have had several mazdas and they are generally pretty crap for gas mileage.

They need to expend a lot more effort wiping the smile off that thing.

Amuro Ray


What I intended to say was that, back a yr ago, when looking at the potential mileage from the Sky series engine from the report, they were impressive (almost no vehicle has a 38 mpg back then). That put Mazda a potential top contenders for the 2 or 3.

FFWD to now - 5+ ICE vehicles get 40+ mpg on paper. Sky series ONLY get 38 mpg (potentiallY). Even with the diesel (sadly, no more for US), 43 mpg is no longer sthg to "wow" about.


Doug G,

Mazdas do run lower MPGs vs their Japanese counterparts. One of the reasons is that Masdas (especially under Ford) have non-interference engines. These engines have tendency to produce a little less and require a little more. However, they are safe from the timing belt failure consequences.

Now, look at Hyundai 5 years ago - they had lower MPGs still with interference engines and also the belts were failing @ 25K miles with catastrophic results. OK. Covered by the warranty. But how would you feel?

Doug G

Interesting info, thanks.
I've always wondered why Mazda gets such mediocre MPG, that sounds like a big factor.
Nonetheless, I'm still a huge mazda fanboy, I just want them to get rid of the damn smiley!

Trent N.

2.0 + manual + wagon = fun, economical and versatile. I hope this combo will be available.


What a bunch of snobs you are.

"We can't really see much difference to the rear of the car, and we can't stand the new wheels, which look like they belong on a Pontiac Vibe."

Danny B

Mazda has great cars but that Smiley Nagare design grill has got to be killing sales! Soon as that's phased out the better off Mazda will be! I read that some owners are painting it to match the body color in hopes it will be less noticeable!

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