Thursday, January 18, 2018
Business

The Daily Drivers: 2012 Mazda3 i Grand Touring is fun, fuel efficient

Mazda trumpets its "zoom-zoom" credentials in TV commercials, and it's understandable if you think that's hyperbole. But it's not. The company engineers fun across the model line. Now Mazda has set its sights on adding fuel efficiency to the fun with its "Skyactiv" powertrains. We got our first taste with the Mazda3 sedan.

Performance: The 2,950-pound car feels solid and rides that way. Mazda says it made the car's body more rigid for better handling, and you can tell. The ride may be stiff for some, but those who like to "feel" the road will enjoy it. What's Skyactiv, you ask? According to Mazda, it re-engineered the internal combustion engine to be more efficient and to reduce emissions. The 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G engine — available with two mid-level trims — produces 155 horsepower and 148-pound-feet of low- and mid-range torque. Mazda says it gets 15 percent lower fuel consumption and emissions than its previous 2-liter engine. Here's what we discovered: It took quite a bit of driving to get the needle on the gas gauge to move off "Full." The Mazda3 gets up to 40 mpg on the highway, a number that other carmakers reach with things like lower-resistance tires and transmission programming that takes away from the driving experience. The 3's transmission is the new Skyactiv-Drive 6-speed automatic, which shifts smoothly and provides steady acceleration for the increased torque. Lyra liked how that low-end grunt — and steering with good feedback — made driving on the curvy roads where she lives a lot more fun. (Just keep an eye on the speedometer; it's easy to get carried away.)

Appearance: Mazda didn't change much in the design department. Our tester was the sedan, which like many compact cars have a hatchback sibling, suffers in comparison. The sedan's most striking features are its grille, where the "grin," thankfully, has been toned down a bit, and its upswept headlights. (The headlights are influenced by Mazda's Nagare concept car.)

Interior: The cockpit is attractive, with the tan leather seats of our tester providing a nice contrast with the harder surfaces. Our tester had the i Grand Touring trim, which has comfortable and well-bolstered seats, including an eight-way power seat for the driver. The Mazda3 can seat five, but we would recommend sticking to four. Our tester also had a blind-spot warning system and other electronic goodies such as rain-sensing wipers as part of the optional technology package ($1,400). The trunk is big enough for a grocery run. The 60/40 split rear seats fold down for longer items.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Interior: Attractive, and a nice contrast in colors and materials.

Philosophy: The internal combustion engine isn't going anywhere, so let's keep refining it.

Blind-spot warning: It's great that it's an option in this class.

Lyra Solochek

Fun drive: Great handling makes your commute enjoyable.

MPG: Easier on your wallet with up to 40 mpg on the highway.

Options: Blind-spot monitor, adaptive lighting, rain-sensing wipers.

The bottom line: We loved how this compact sedan was fun to drive and had some available features you normally see only in luxury cars. And Mazda seems to be on to something with Skyactiv. We can't wait to see more.









     
     
Comments
House approves government spending bill

House approves government spending bill

A divided House on Thursday passed an 11-hour plan to keep the government running. But the GOP-written measure faced gloomy prospects in the Senate, and it remained unclear whether lawmakers would be able to find a way to keep federal offices open pa...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Crystal Lagoon planners cut the ribbon on a chilly day (w/video)

Crystal Lagoon planners cut the ribbon on a chilly day (w/video)

WESLEY CHAPEL — Mother Nature seems to have a way of putting a chill on one of the hottest amenities in residential real estate development.Members of the business community, elected officials and executives with Metro Development Group and Crystal L...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Consumer agency to spend rainy day funds

NEW YORK — The Trump-appointed acting director of the federal government’s consumer watchdog agency requested zero dollars of funding for its second-quarter budget, saying he intends to first spend down the agency’s rainy day fund. In a letter to the...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Tampa Bay area doesn’t make cut as Amazon second headquarter finalist

Tampa Bay area doesn’t make cut as Amazon second headquarter finalist

To no one’s surprise, Amazon on Thursday released its list of location finalists for its second headquarters, and neither Tampa nor St. Petersburg was on it."We knew it was going to be a long shot and a difficult road," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said....
Updated: 10 hours ago

Deal clears way for Oldsmar townhomes

OLDSMAR — The City Council voted 4-1 last month in favor of approving a development agreement for a 50-unit townhome community on a nearly 4-acre parcel on St. Petersburg Drive. According to the terms of the agreement, Oldsmar Towns LLC will build a ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Here are Tampa Bay's priciest home sales in 2017

Here are Tampa Bay's priciest home sales in 2017

If there’s one word to describe the buyers of Tampa Bay’s 25 priciest homes in 2017 it’s this: eclectic. As in previous years, the group included doctors, lawyers and professional sports figures — three of the homes were purc...
Published: 01/18/18
Ace Hardware in Oldsmar has those hard to find home items

Ace Hardware in Oldsmar has those hard to find home items

When Vision ACE Hardware opened in Oldsmar last November, the very first customer came in looking for a light bulb that he couldn’t find anywhere else."We had that lightbulb," said Stone Ackroyd, marketing manager. "That’s what ACE does. We have thos...
Published: 01/18/18
Mellow Mushroom opens third locationin Wesley Chapel

Mellow Mushroom opens third locationin Wesley Chapel

LUTZ — Mellow Mushroom opened the doors to its new location this week in Wesley Chapel.This is the third location for owner Rob Johnson, who opened the Mellow Mushroom in Brandon 12 years ago, and then expanded to Clearwater.Johnson began looking at ...
Published: 01/18/18
Sweets, savories and surprises at Jules’ Place in southeast Seminole Heights

Sweets, savories and surprises at Jules’ Place in southeast Seminole Heights

Tampa native Julie Harris worked for the City of Tampa for 22 years, under four mayoral administrations, until retiring as director of communications and neighborhood liaison in 2003.Her familiarity with Southeast Seminole Heights and countless conta...
Published: 01/18/18
Popular Spanish cuisine restaurant joins Hyde Park food scene

Popular Spanish cuisine restaurant joins Hyde Park food scene

HYDE PARK—Featuring popular Spanish cuisine, Bulla Gastrobar compliments Soho and Hyde Park’s vibrant restaurant scene offering an authentic Madrid-inspired tapas dining experience to be shared among friends for brunch, lunch and dinner. "Tampa is gr...
Published: 01/18/18