The introduction of the 2012 Mazda Mazda3 not only showed a refreshed look for the hatchback version of Mazda's entry-level compact car, it also helped introduce the automaker's new SkyActiv engine and transmission technologies. Last month, Mazda said it was going to debut its new SkyActiv engine and transmission technologies on the Mazda Minagi Concept vehicle at the Geneva Motor Show, but the new drivetrain components made their official debut at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto. The 2012 Mazda MAZDA3 will go on sale with these new features this fall.
With 2011 EPA fuel economy estimates of that max out at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, the current MAZDA3 is one of the least efficient models in its segment with the Chevrolet Cruze Eco, Ford Focus SFE and Hyundai Elantra all getting at least 40 highway mpg. Although not many details have been released about the new components, Mazda has said that it expects SkyActiv to help deliver a 30 percent improvement in its overall fuel efficiency by 2013. The engine that will debut in the North American-spec MAZDA3 is the SkyActiv-G inline four-cylinder engine which is a direct-injected gasoline engine that will deliver more torque at lower engine speeds. This engine, along with the SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission, will be optional on the 2012 MAZDA3, but will likely spread rapidly across other Mazda vehicle lines.
As for the car itself, the 2012 Mazda MAZDA3 also receives some notable styling updates in addition to the more efficient powertrain. The biggest change is the front fascia which has toned down some of its goofy grin with a restyled lower grille opening and fog light openings. Mazda also says that the headlights and rear fascia have also been reshaped, but changes are minor. Finishing off the new look of the refreshed MAZDA3, are updated designs for the 16- and 17-inch wheel options.
SkyActiv is the name Mazda is applying not only to its more efficient engine and transmission designs but also to body and chassis improvements that will bring reduced curb weights and added rigidity. Eventually, Mazda will start to incorporate new technologies further improving efficiency and reducing emissions such as regenerative braking and start-stop technology. Mazda is also preparing to launch an all-electric version of the Mazda Demio hatchback (also known as the MAZDA2) in Japan with a range of 125 miles. This could be a way for the automaker to develop future hybrid and EV models. One SkyActiv technology that isn't likely to see the light of day in the United States is the SkyActiv-D clean diesel engine that Mazda is developing.
'The internal combustion engine is expected to remain the heart of the automobile for the near future. Going forward, Mazda will continue to improve its base technologies that are centered on internal combustion,'? Mazda said. 'At the same time, it will advance development of various future eco-friendly technologies in order to offer all its customers driving pleasure as well as outstanding environmental and safety performance.'?