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Mazda MAZDA3, Mazda MAZDASPEED MAZDA3, Hatchback, Sedan
#11 of 437 Re: Mazda still doesn't get it... [bpizzuti]
Oct 24, 2011 (8:17 am)
I'm in the same boat, I want to spend my time driving my car and shifting my gears not fiddling about with wiper and HVAC controls. Fortunately enough for me, there is still a chance the 2013 Mazda3 with the SkyActiv-D engine will feature the full allocation of options as well as a manual transmission. If the car falls short then I'll move back into the BMW camp and buy the new F30 320d with a 6-Speed manual.
#12 of 437 Re: Mazda still doesn't get it... [bpizzuti]
Oct 24, 2011 (8:58 am)
I have my eyes on the CX_5 as well. It will most likley be my next car. We will see what's in store for the U.S. at the LA Auto Show in November.
#13 of 437 Re: Mazda still doesn't get it... [aviboy97]
Oct 24, 2011 (3:30 pm)
Wish they'd announce it at SEMA. I"ll actually be AT SEMA...
#14 of 437 rave review for Mazda3 Skyactiv
Oct 25, 2011 (5:06 pm)
....In the manual transmission, Skyactiv means less weight, less effort, and a shorter throw. Friction has been reduced quite a bit to make up for the loss of leverage of the shorter shift lever, and the result is a quick-shifting, super-smooth, very precise, and fast manual gearbox, as we’d find out on the curvy mountain roads outside of LA. In fact, according to Mazda, it features the shortest, and nearly the lightest, throw of any passenger car with a back seat.
For the automatic transmission, the goal was essentially twofold: more efficiency and less intrusive operation. Starting with a clean slate, Mazda looked at the pros and cons of the various transmissions available. “CVTs were pretty easy to rule out,” said Product Development Engineer Dave Coleman, a true car guy (and car geek) as far as we’re concerned. That left the traditional torque converter or a dual-clutch transmission. Rather than sacrifice efficiency and smoothness for low-speed prowess, Mazda combined the two ideas. The result is the best of both worlds, distilled by Mazda engineers into a simple, light, efficient autobox that shifts quickly and smoothly, and still makes it easy to drive at low speeds and launch relatively quickly from a standstill. (Again, Miersma’s previous Skyactiv article gives more details on the basic brilliance of this new approach to changing gears.)
Mazda tweaked other areas of the 3’s design and engineering to make the new Skyactiv model a complete and holistically ideal car in the eyes of this team. Aiming for driving dynamics (and efficiency) to match those of the new engine and transmissions, the Skyactiv features a stronger, more rigid structure, with more weld points, increased thickness in parts of the frame, a more rigid front crossmember, and added brace bar. Aerodynamics have been improved, giving the four-door a 0.27 coefficient of drag (the same as a Nissan GT-R), with a 0.29 drag coefficient for the five-door. The Mazda3 has updated steering and suspension, improving handling and shedding weight. Inside, the cabin uses a new cloth material, which we found much more pleasing both to the touch and to the eye. In front of us were black backgrounds and a silver finish on a lot of the controls, which not only look better, but are easier to spot and use without taking your eyes of the road. Complaints about a rental-car feeling inside the car are no longer valid.
But all these words, all this technology, and these ideas mean very little on a practical (or, for the enthusiast, spiritual) level until one gets behind the wheel of the car, which we soon did. In our entry-level, manual-transmission-equipped Mazda3 Skyactiv, we headed into the hills.
When stepping on the gas, the 2.0-liter engine pushes the car smoothly and directly from the line. Acceleration isn’t very fast, but it comes on smooth and easy, and doesn’t feel like there are notable weak points in the rev range. The engine isn’t very loud, but it sounds good; it gives off a manly growl as it pushes toward the redline, and doesn’t ever sound buzzy or wheezy. There is a bit of road noise from the tires, but the suspension doesn’t transmit a lot of sound, and wind noise is kept in check.
When it comes time to shift, the clutch offers a low-effort feel, and gives a good sense of what is going on underfoot, making smooth transitions from gear to gear an easy operation. The best part of the shift experience, though, comes from the right hand. The gear lever slides into place very smoothly, with a palpable settling into the gear. The throw really is remarkably short, and very light, which, as one would guess, makes it very fast. Between that feeling and that of the leftmost pedal, it really is a treat flicking through all the cogs. It’s an experience that we can honestly say rivals that of the MX-5 in terms of sporty, heroic feel.
We’re not even disappointed that the Mazda3 isn’t really fast (acceleratively). Getting through the gears up to a thrilling speed is fun and involving. Even better, in true Mazda fashion, a lot of the excitement comes from carrying speed through the corners. On the variably curvaceous Angeles Crest Highway, we found ourselves dispatching corners with greater speed than we would have though possible. Despite the very light steering feel, our confidence was high as we threw the steering wheel, and resultantly the car, from side to side, easily avoiding a flight off the side of the road into the canyon far below. While easy to hold a smooth, precise line, the Mazda3 also responded well to mid-corner corrections and fast steering inputs. Thankfully, the brakes felt great too, offering progressive and appropriate response when we needed it. Overall, we had a good sense of what was going on at the wheels and the load on the suspension (especially in front) as we braked, turned, and accelerated (repeat, repeat, repeat).
Grip levels were very good, and we had no problems with traction as we piled on the lateral g-forces. The car also felt very balanced between the front and the rear, and we really had to push the 3 in some funny ways to get it to exhibit understeer. Roll was kept in check very well, and the suspension did a good job of communicating grip levels and road surface. Tuned a bit more toward sportiness than outright comfort, as far as we could tell, it was clear we were driving a true, practical driver’s car.
#16 of 437 Re: rave review for Mazda3 Skyactiv [benjaminh]
Oct 26, 2011 (4:40 pm)
If it just had automatic climate control on the SkyActive I might bypass the CX-5. Then again, the CX-5 is better looking, and I just do NOT get why the SkyActiv isn't available in Velocity Red Mica? Just black, white and blue? Police cruisers maybe? I refuse to consider a shade of grey on a Mazda, it's just not right.
#17 of 437 Re: rave review for Mazda3 Skyactiv [bpizzuti]
Oct 26, 2011 (6:21 pm)
Yeah, I did a double-take when I saw the color palette for the Skyactiv Mazda3. BORRRRRR-ing. Gotta have red available on that car.
#18 of 437 Re: rave review for Mazda3 Skyactiv [backy]
Oct 27, 2011 (6:46 am)
While agree there should be Velocity Red offered, or some sort of red, it has been around since 2004 and has not really been a big sales success, on the Mazda3 anyway...
Mazda has a tricky delima....they want to appeal to those who are driving enthusiast but it is not good business practice to offer items to those that will only appeal to a very, very select few.
Unfortunately, every other manufacturer gets a pass on this, but Mazda gets blasted. It is something they have delt with for a while.
On a side note, the Sky Blue is an awesome color! At least they got that right!
#19 of 437 Re: rave review for Mazda3 Skyactiv [aviboy97]
Oct 27, 2011 (7:01 am)
They're offering it on the S models. No reason to not offer it on the SkyActiv models as well.
If I buy one I want my own paint booth and an unlimited supply of Velocity Red Mica paint.
#20 of 437 Re: rave review for Mazda3 Skyactiv [bpizzuti]
Oct 27, 2011 (11:01 am)
It is offered, but no dealers order it because it does not sell. Out of the 50 Mazda3's I have in inventory, I have one Mazdaspeed3 in Velocity Red and one 5-door s Grand Touring in Velocity Red.
I love the color, but it appears the majority of consumers do not feel the same way.