NEW YORK - The 2012 Mazda3 with the automaker's new engine technology made its U.S. debut at the New York International Auto Show. Mazda said its 2012 Mazda3 is the first of its vehicles in North America to have the company’s SKYACTIV technology, which boosts mpg to 40 highway, 28 city.
The major feature Mazda touted for the new Mazda3 is the automaker’s SKYACTIV 2.0L gasoline engine, which is available in the sedan or hatchback models. The engine is mated to a SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission or optional SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmission. Mazda said its MZR 2.0L engine will still be available with the current five-speed manual as standard equipment.
The company said the SKACTIV-equipped 2012 Mazda3 can produce 5-percent more horsepower than the previous MZR 2.0L-equipped model, 155 hp at 6,000 rpm, and 10-percent more torque, now at 148 lb.-ft., than with the previous engine. The PZEV version of this engine sold in California and other states can produce 154 hp at 6,000 rpm and 148 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,100 rpm.
Mazda said the fuel economy numbers for its 2012 Mazda3 with SKYACTIV engine and six-speed automatic transmission, at 40 mpg highway, 28 city, are EPA rated and is a 21-percent improvement over the MZR 2.0L engine equipped with the five-speed transmission. The fuel tank on the 2012 Mazda3 has a 14.5-gallon capacity and, with SKYACTIV, a potential range of 540 miles (with a gallon of gas to spare). The new Mazda3 with the six-speed manual transmission achieves mpg of 39 highway, 27 city.
The Mazda3 sedan with the MZR 2.0L has an EPA fuel economy rating of 25 city/33 highway with the standard five-speed manual transmission and 24 city/33 highway with the optional five-speed automatic transmission, according to the automaker.
The five-door hatchback version of the Mazda3 with the new SKYACTIV 2.0L engine will achieve an estimated 38 highway, 27 city with the SKYACTIV manual transmission and 38 highway, 28 city with the automatic SKYACTIV-Drive transmission. The hatchback was previously only available with the MZR 2.5L engine, which achieves EPA figures of 20 city and 28 highway with a manual transmission and 22 city and 29 highway with the automatic.
The 2012 Mazda3 features improved aerodynamics and new stylized features, according to Mazda. The Mazda3 has a new front fascia and updated five-point grille opening for the sedan and hatchback. Other design characteristics include more “delicately sculpted” forms around the openings on the outside edge of the front bumper and a rounded fog lamp shape.
The Mazda3 sedan and hatchback models equipped with SKYACTIV-G gasoline engines will feature exclusive elements such as an all-new engine cover in a deep blue metallic paint finish with black sections along either side; headlamp units outfitted with a transparent blue ring around the center lens; and a badge featuring a "SKYACTIV" logo against a clear-blue background.
To improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics, Mazda optimized the front bumper design, as well as underbody parts, to streamline the air flow traveling beneath the vehicle’s floor, for example. The company redesigned the lower sections of the front bumper's sides to protrude forward and made the fins beneath larger. In terms of numbers, Mazda achieved a drag coefficient of 0.27 Cd for the SKYACTIV-equipped sedan, which is an approximately seven-percent improvement over the 0.29 Cd of current models.
The SKYACTIV-equipped hatchback version has a 0.29 Cd), also an approximately seven-percent increase over the 0.31 Cd of current models. The SKYACTIV-equipped models come with new 16- and 17-inch aluminum wheel designs, though the company didn’t change the available 18-inch aluminum wheels.
Mazda made a number of enhancements to the interior cabin. The automaker uses black with silver accents throughout the interior. The center stack and shift gate are black, and Mazda chose silver satin-polished details to areas such as the outer rings of the climate and audio controls and the ventilation louvers. Other changes include continuously lit white meter graphics in the twin-meter instrument cluster, which is designed to make the instruments easier to read. The Multi Information Display (MID) and LCD now have white text, rather than red, for improved readability. The shift knob and parking brake are wrapped in leather.
The seats have new three-dimensional fabric patterns. The black seats (in the non-leather-equipped models) now have gray cross threads. Dune-colored seats have bright and dark cross threads, and the seats in the higher trim levels, Touring and Grand Touring, have a different seat fabric pattern.
The 2012 Mazda3 comes with a number of safety features. Six airbags are standard, with double chamber side airbags. Other features include anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) with Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability Control with a Traction Control System, front and rear stabilizer bars, a tire pressure monitoring system, a "crushable" brake and accelerator pedal assembly and collapsible steering column, three-point safety belts for all seating positions, front seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters as well as Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH).
A new safety option is the company’s blind spot monitoring system, which helps drivers avoid accidents via 24GHz radar sensors located at the rear of the vehicle. These sensors detect approaching vehicles within a range of 13 feet to the left or right, and within 26 feet from the rear. When the sensors detect a vehicle entering the blind spot area, indicator lamps housed within the door mirrors light up. If the driver has activated a turn signal while the indicators are lit, they flash and a buzzer will sound. Also an option is an Adaptive Front-Lighting System (AFS) with auto-leveling bi-xenon headlamps, which provides a wider range of vision during cornering. The company also said the Mazda3 features the automaker’s Triple H body construction for added safety.