All photos by Mazda
There is no doubt that Mazda is pretty darn good at designing and building small and sporty cars. We’re here to let you know that after spending a week behind the wheel of a Sky Blue MC 2012 Mazda3 i 5-Door Grand Touring that we can also confirm Mazda’s expertise in doing a great job with sporty cars.
The 2012 model was tweaked to be more aerodynamic and just a bit toned down in appearance, especially the front end of the car. Our test model was loaded with 16 inch alloy wheels, body color heated power mirrors, black grille insert and trim, halogen headlights, single-exhaust outlet bright tip, body color door handles, roof-mounted aero antenna, moonroof with one touch opener, bi-xenon headlights with auto leveling, pivoting adaptive front lighting system (AFS) and rear liftgate with wiper. Basically, the 2012 Mazda3 i 5-Door Grand Touring continues the “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.
This is certainly a Mazda3, but don’t let the exceptional fuel efficiency trick you into thinking that the Mazda3 doesn’t add comfort to its calling card. The interior is superb from all angles and the textured dashboard and soft-touch materials used throughout cannot be found in any other hatchback approaching its price range. Inside, the 2012 Mazda3 i 5-door Grand Touring we found five-passenger seating, tilt and telescopic steering column, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio, cruise and Bluetooth controls, black leather-trimmed seats and door, 8-way power driver seats, heated front seats with five settings, leather wrapped shift knob and 2 12V power outlets welcome lighting. There’s more, including a 265 watt BOSE center point 10 speaker surround audio system, Bluetooth hands free phone/audio, front console with sliding padded arm rest, two cup holders and full-color compact Navigation. The cabin is easily accessible with generous cargo room, five-passenger seating and plenty of elbow room so you don’t feel squeezed.
Expectations were high and Mazda came through by making the 2012 Mazda3 i 5-Door Grand Touring a fun car to drive with the feel of a much more expensive offering. I was also looking forward to driving the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 Liter I4 Engine, which is a system-oriented implementation of engine, transmission and chassis technologies that were designed to work together to make your driving experience better. I was impressed with the 6-speed sport automatic transmission with manual shift mode, the 155 horsepower and 148ib-foot torque that was produced. The front wheel drive system worked well in winter Midwest weather along with the four-wheel disc brakes, electric hydraulic power assisted rack and pinion steering, independent front and rear suspension, and front and rear stabilizer bars. The blind spot monitoring system in the side mirrors worked wonders and is must have for future car purchases. The Mazda3 i 5-Door Grand Touring can really hugs curves and handles less than optimal roads with precision. Fuel efficiency delivers at 28 mpg in the city and a whopping 39 mpg highway driving.
The Mazda3 i 5-Door Grand Touring is real close to a luxury car with a sleek design and very well thought-out interior. And at a price of $25,520 for our test model that’s a real bang for the buck! Mazda is also onto something with the new SKYACTIV driving system, so expect to see more of SKYACTIV in future Mazda vehicles… and for consumers, that’s a good thing!
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