Mazda unveiled its 2014 Mazda 3 recently and despite it being upstaged by Corvette’s Stingray and Cadillac’s CTS it was still hailed by Car and Driver as one of the 10 best car laurels for 2014.
- The key is the company’s Skyactiv technology, which sounds a little mysterious but boils down to improved powertrain efficiency and reduced weight. Both the Mazda 3’s available 2.0- and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines boast the latest enhancements, including direct fuel injection with a 13.0:1 compression ratio, and the engineering team has painstakingly pared weight in just about every conceivable area—suspension, engines, and transmissions—while beefing up the car’s unitized body structure to handle more-stringent offset frontal collision requirements.
- At the track, the Mazda 3’s speedo needle hit 60 mph in 7.6 seconds, and the compact sedan covered the quarter-mile in 15.9 seconds at 89 mph—about mid-pack versus rival sedans such as the Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T,the Kia Forte 2.0, the Honda Civic 1.8, and the Toyota Corolla 1.8, and far from thrilling. And while the attraction of Mazda’s 2.0-liter engine versus the 2.5-liter option (184 horses, 185 lb-ft) is an edge in fuel economy—30 mpg city, 41 highway for this model, according to the EPA, compared to the 2.5’s 28/39—our 2.0-equipped test car could manage just 29 mpg in 800 miles of admittedly spirited driving.
- The 3’s 2.0-liter engine makes the driver value momentum, the car’s dynamics make momentum exceptionally easy to sustain.