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2012 Mazda MAZDA3

Overview
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2012 Mazda MAZDA3 Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 8.2

Mazda's Zoom-zoom tag line isn't just a hollow advertising gimmick. It really does describe the attitude behind every car they build. Perhaps the best example of Zoom-zoom can be found in the 2012 Mazda3, a fun and efficient vehicle that's available as either a 4-door sedan or a 5-door hatchback, as well as a high-performance turbocharged terror dubbed the Mazdaspeed3. The various versions of the Mazda3 all offer great driving credentials, a long list of high-end features and appealing good looks. Oh, did we forget to mention the very affordable price tag? Yeah, the 2012 Mazda3's got that, too. This year, Mazda has restyled its popular compact car, toning down the awkward wide-mouth, grinning grille and adding new wheels and interior features. The most appealing new Mazda3 addition is the all-new Skyactiv 4-cylinder engine, a high-compression engine capable of producing 155 horsepower and a 40 mpg highway rating. With the 2012 Mazda3, you no longer have to sacrifice good fuel economy for a fun ride, or great high-end features for a good price.

You'll Like This Car If...

Great gas mileage and an enthusiast-oriented chassis are fused with a premium interior and dynamite styling to form the 2012 Mazda3 sedan and hatchback. If you thought you couldn't have all this in a small affordable car, Mazda just proved you wrong.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If your next car must have all-wheel drive (AWD), the Subaru Impreza or Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart are better choices. Smartphones are killing in-dash (and on-windshield) navigation systems, and the Mazda3's tiny hard to use view screen won't convince you to ask for a reprieve.

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Mazda3 gets a freshened front face and a new instrument panel with a blue background and white lettering. Also new is the fuel-efficient 2.0-liter Skyactiv engine. Cars equipped with the Skyactiv engine are fitted with a choice of two new 6-speed transmissions, either manual or automatic. In addition, there are a number of equipment changes across the numerous trim levels.

Driving the MAZDA3

Driving Impressions The beauty of the 2012 Mazda3 is that no matter which model you choose, it will be equipped with a fun to drive spirit. The variation comes in the rate...

of acceleration and the tenacity of tire grip. The Mazda3's stiff body helps impart a feeling of solidity and safety. Mazda engineers focused their attention on making the Mazda3's body as stiff as possible and its suspension both agile and compliant. Models with the 148-horsepower engine offer spirited performance and good fuel economy, reaching 33 miles per gallon in the government's highway test. The new Skyactiv 2.0-liter pumps out 155 horsepower and achieves an astounding 40 mpg on the government's highway cycle. The standard six-speed manual is a delight, mirroring the marvelously fluid manual transmission found in the Miata MX-5. While the Skyactiv 2.0-liter engine delivers good performance, its not going to be winning any SCCA races. If you want the ultimate performance (not counting the turbocharged Mazdaspeed3), it's the s trim's 2.5-liter engine you'll be seeking. With 167-horsepower, this little 4-cylinder delivers strong acceleration and still gets reasonable good fuel economy. While carving up a twisting mountain road we found the driver-selectable stability and traction control granted us plenty of fun before stepping in to save us from ourselves. Our Grand Touring trim's front seats provided plenty of thigh and lateral support and the overall feel inside the cabin is one of sophistication and attention to detail. For the ultimate in performance driving, there is the 263-horsepower Mazdaspeed3, which features a performance suspension, sport seats and more torque steer than a front drive car has a right to.

Adaptive Front Headlamps
Mazda says this is the first application on a compact vehicle of the swiveling blue-white bi-xenon high- and low-beam headlights. (Bi-xenon means there are two headlights on each side – one for high beam and the other for low beam.) The inner beams can rotate up to 15 degrees in order to look deeper into dark corners. They are self-leveling to prevent dazzling on-coming divers.

Skyactiv 2.0-liter engine
Utilizing direct fuel injecting and with a 12.0:1 compression ratio, the Skyactiv engine is both powerful and incredibly fuel efficient. Better still, the Skyactiv engine runs on regular 87 octane fuel.

2012 Mazda MAZDA3 Details
Interior

The 2012 Mazda3 sedan and hatchback share the same, feature-rich interior, highlighted by stylish instruments and soft touch surfaces. A 3-zone philosophy places all the vital controls in way that helps the driver focus on the road while operating the audio and climate control. For the most part, we like what Mazda has done with the Mazda3's instruments and dash, but the poorly placed screen displaying the HVAC and audio readouts has too many functions crammed into its small window. The optional navigation screen is also too small and difficult to understand, but that probably won't matter as most Mazda3 buyers will likely use their smartphones for navigation. S trim models get a multi-talented steering wheel that houses controls for the audio, cruise, navigation and Bluetooth. The available Bose audio system sounds fantastic. The Mazdaspeed3 gets a more aggressive set of bolstered front bucket seats and an LED turbo boost gauge.

Exterior

The 2012 Mazda3 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback draw on the original 2004 Mazda3 for inspiration, but take its styling to a more dramatic place. A new front grille dissected by a wide black bumper strip and a new lower air intake help improve a weak spot on the previous year Mazda3's exterior. The Mazda3 features bold front fender flares straddling 16- and 17-inch wheels. Next to a conservatively styled Chevy Cruze or Toyota Corolla, the Mazda3 looks downright awesome, and Mazda's color palate blows its competitors out of the water. The s Grand Touring trim's available adaptive swiveling front headlamps are just one of the many Mazda3 features that are rare at this price point. You don't have to spend a lot to get a lot with the 2012 Mazda3 compact, because even the base model comes with 16-inch wheels, color keyed mirrors, and halogen fog lights. The Mazdaspeed3 expresses itself with an active front hood scoop, 18-inch wheels and ground effects.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 4-door 2012 Mazda3 is available in six trim packages, starting with the base i SV, and moving upward with the i Sport, i Touring, i Grand Touring, s Touring and s Grand Touring. The trim levels for the five-door hatchback (or, if you prefer, wagon) are i Touring, i Grand Touring, s Touring and s Grand Touring. Even the base 2012 Mazda3 i SV sedan has impressive standard equipment, which includes electronic stability control, a tilt-telescoping steering column, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio, power windows and mirrors and variable intermittent wipers. The i Touring adds cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, power locks with keyless remote and Bluetooth connectivity. The i Touring and i Grand Touring trim gets the new Skyactiv 2.0-liter engine mated to 6-speed manual in the i Touring and a 6-speed automatic in the i Grand Touring. The s levels have the more potent 167-horsepower 2.5-liter engine, 265-watt Bose audio system, a power moonroof, Advance Keyless entry with push-button start, 17-inch alloy wheels, and dual-zone automatic temperature control. Grand Touring trims also feature navigation, leather seating surfaces, an 8-way power driver's seat, heated side mirrors and 5-position heated front sport seats. The Mazdaspeed3 comes only in the Touring trim.

Optional Equipment

The Tech Package available on Grand Touring trim includes auto-leveling Adaptive front HID headlamps, blind spot monitoring, rain-sensing wipers, and anti-theft alarm. The i Touring trim offers the Moonroof and Bose package containing a 265-watt 10-speaker Bose Surround Sound Centerpoint audio system and a power glass moonroof. The Mazdaspeed3 offers a Mazdaspeed Tech Package which is the same as Tech Package only with Advance Key and navigation added to the list.

Under the Hood

Three engines and three transmissions are part of the 2012 Mazda3 lineup. The 4-door i models (SV and Sport) are equipped with a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that can be teamed with a 5-speed manual transmission or, except for the base i SV, a 5-speed automatic. The i Touring and Grand Touring are fitted with the Skyactiv 2.0-liter engine, which makes 155 horsepower and is mated to a new 6-speed manual. The i Grand Touring offers a 6-speed automatic. The more powerful s models have a 168-horsepower 2.5-liter powerplant paired with either a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic. The Mazdaspeed3 uses a 2.3-liter gasoline direct injection turbocharged MZR engine good for 263 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque. The Mazdaspeed3 is only available with a 6-speed manual transmission.


2.0-liter in-line 4
148/144 horsepower (Federal/PZEV) @ 6,500 rpm
135/132 lb-ft of torque (Federal/PZEV) @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 (manual), 24/33 (automatic)

2.0-liter Skyactiv 4
155/154 horsepower (Federal/PZEV) @ 6,000 rpm
148 ft-lb of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/39 (manual sedan), 28/40 (automatic, sedan), 27/38 (manual, 5-door), 28/39 (automatic, 5-door)

2.5-liter in-line 4
167/165 horsepower (Federal/PZEV) @ 6,000 rpm
168/167 lb-ft of torque (Federal/PZEV)) @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 (manual), 22/29 (automatic)

2.3-liter turbocharged in-line 4
263 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
280 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25

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2012 Mazda MAZDA3 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.9
Out of 10

Based on 363 Ratings for the 2010 - 2013 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.1/10
    Quality
    8.9/10
  • Reliability
    9.3/10
    Performance
    9.2/10
  • Comfort
    8.6/10
    Styling
    8.9/10

Great city car

By on Thursday, April 23, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Reliable, price, mileage, fun"

Cons: "Small interior, not good visibility"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"This car is almost flawless. I bought it new, it's reliable and handles great. The maintenance for every 5000 miles is very affordable, around $100. The mileage averages 36mpg. My only issue with the car is how cramped I feel in the driver's seat. I'm 5'8" and I can't sit straight up, my legs also cannot fully extend. The visibility is also kind of an issue. It helps that there are lights on the mirrors when someone is in your blindspot, but parking and changing lanes is still more difficult than in my old SUV. Overall it's a really good car though in terms of handling, safety, reliability and price."

Nice tuner car to mod

By on Thursday, April 02, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Cheap alternative to STI, has similar HP as EVO"

Cons: "Seats are very stanced for long drives"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Torquey and always wants more. It is highly de-tuned from the factory. So I suggest an Accessport to unlock its full potential. Gears 1-3 are limited and gas mileage is poor if you are romping it around. Get around 31mpg with careful highway driving. Downside is the heavy steering, other wise grips the road."

10 people out of 17 found this review helpful

Peppy little ride

By on Saturday, March 14, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Zippy, great economy, sporty looks"

Cons: "Small, not a lot of hauling space."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Mazda makes a sporty, peppy ride in this 2012 Mazda 3. The fuel efficiency is terrific: I get about 30 mpg, up to 36 on longer highway runs. My biggest complaints about mine are that it didn't come with cruise control, and it's just too small for me. The trunk is roomy, but access dimensions prevent loading any actual furniture in it, and the back doors are likewise lacking in height/ width to allow Hauling anything remotely oversized."

1 person out of 3 found this review helpful

Engineering is equal to the best

By on Monday, March 02, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Fantastic drive, gr8 daily commuter, economical"

Cons: "Road noise, relatively high revs at highway speeds"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

Snow day in Memphis, TN

"What a fantastic little car! We are a Mazda family with 7 vehicles and safety, road holding and fun to drive is always our criteria. This car feels heavier and has more roll than the Protege I had before but it is much more comfortable - especially on the longer trips. The 2.0 engine is very peppy and the stick-shift allows one to handle busy traffic with ease. The way the car feels "on you" is second to none. My daily commute includes a stretch of freeway, a school zone and a residential area. Nothing better for a daily commuter in my opinion. The only drawback is that you DO feel the extra load on the engine when running the A/C or when other adult/s is/are in the car and the engine sounds like it's revving a little high on the freeway. Road noise could be better."

3 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Snow day in Memphis, TN

Best vehicle I have ever owned.

By on Saturday, February 28, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 97,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "durable"

Cons: "buy appropriate tires for your area."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I bought this auto as an internet special for 16k out the door tax included. It has been trouble free and no complaints. I do use synthetic oil and don't drive like a stunt driver. It has been the 5th Mazda I have owned with all priors being a mixed bunch of used and new starting with a Protege model the forerunner of the Mazda 3. All were driven to 150k-200k with no problems other than my kids getting them and then an accident or two hauls them to the junk yard. Good snow tires or all weather tires with manual transmission did the job even through really bad ice or snow. Mazda 3 is a nice value but drive with care and it will last and leave you with a good smile!"

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Worth the drive

By on Saturday, February 14, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 76,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Price, options, mpg, looks, fun to drive."

Cons: "Short warranty"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I love and still love driving my Mazda3. Yet it has gotten to the point that I need a bigger vehicle and I will choose to buy another Mazda. The price is spot on for the younger generation that wants a car that can zoom zoom (lol) and still be gas efficient. Mine is going on six years old and I had been rough on her and NO PROBLEMS. Still runs like a champion. The car is eye catching, different from all the other cars out there, and sporty looking. The interior was big enough for my kid and my husband who is six feet tall. The dash is amazing with the technology package and smaller navigation screen. It still served the purpose it was meant to and did not take up the whole dash. I would not get rid of this car but like I said, life has demanded I get a larger vehicle. I am picky about my cars, they have to be eye pleasing, go when I step on the gas, handle a corner like it means it, and make me happy when I drive it and the Mazda3 did that and so much more. The only down side to the car is the warranty. It is really short (36 months/36000miles). I hope one day Mazda will back the car as much as I have enjoyed driving it. I hope this car is a first vehicle for a teen so they can enjoy it as much as I have."

8 people out of 11 found this review helpful

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