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2012 Mazda MAZDA3

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2012 Mazda MAZDA3 Review

With engine updates, the Mazda3 is better prepared to tackle new compacts.

Reviewed by Automotive on

The 2010 Mazda3 is an all new configuration; now the carmaker has added the MZR four cylinder engine so the vehicle is sporty and fast. The Mazda3 comes in a four door sedan or five door hatchback configuration. It is in its second generation competing in the compact vehicle segment. The front of the car has the emblematic smiling grille by Mazda too. The body has deep flanks, a flowing style, and it is appealing and handsome.

The Mazda3 has a strong powertrain and look. The Mazda3i as well as the Mazda3i SV configurations host a 2.0 Liter Inline Four motor. The Mazda3 however, has a larger 2.5 Liter 4 cylinder engine. The latter is married to a manual or auto tranny. This car has great response, it is an exhilarating drive, and it delivers 10% more fuel efficiency than previous models do.

The Mazda3 is a five seater and the passenger room is generous. The vehicle is well executed and hosts an AM, FM, CD stereo, bucket front seats, four speakers, a three spoke steering wheel, and power windows.

The Range

Bodystyles: Sedan, Hatchback
Engines: 2.0-liter inline-4 (two 2-liter options), 2.5-liter inline-4
Transmissions: five-speed manual, six-speed manual, five-speed automatic, six-speed automatic
Models: Mazda3i SV four-door, Mazda3i Sport four-door, Mazda3i Touring four-door, Mazda3s Sport four-door, Mazda3s Grand Touring four-door, Mazda3s Sport five-door, Mazda3s Grand Touring five-door

What's New

For 2012, The Mazda3 adds a vastly more efficient engine, available in the sedan and hatchback. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine will be paired with a new six-speed manual transmission and six-speed automatic transmission, helping it get as much as 40 mpg. All Mazda3s get refreshed exteriors and interiors, and a blind-spot monitoring system.


Designers wanted to evoke the "soul of a sports car" with the latest generation Mazda3, so they included a lot of chiseled, swooping lines that scream "speed." Not only do they give the Mazda3 a modern appearance, but they contribute greatly to the Mazda3's improved aerodynamic efficiency. Sport trims come with 16-inch steel wheels. Touring editions make the 16-inch wheels alloy, and s Touring gets 17-inch alloy wheels.


The Mazda3 interior is modern enough with its sharp instrument panel and upscale materials. Gauges are always backlit. The cabin is driver-centric, so passengers may find the cabin to be snug. Controls are logical and easy to access. Dashboard LCD screens have been changed to white from red. The multi-information display screen is on the small side, but fairly user-friendly. Some cheap materials are apparent in the cabin, but they don't greatly diminish the overall finish. All 2012 models get new patterns on the cloth seats.

Performance & Handling

The 2012 Mazda3 is entertaining to drive with either the 2.0-liter or 2.5-liter powerplants under the hood, but if you want to scoot, your best bet is the 2.5-liter, which moves the Mazda sedan out with authority. That said, the 2.0-liter mated to Mazda's brilliant five- or six-speed manual is fun in its own right, allowing full control of engine speed. Those looking for better fuel economy would be wise to opt for the updated 2.0-liter engine. The Mazda3 handles extremely well, but offers a more refined ride than one might expect in daily driving.


Antilock disc brakes as well as brake assist as standard, dual front and side airbags, side impact airbag curtains, and active front headrests. All models now offer traction control and dynamic stability control standard.

EPA Fuel Economy

2.0-liter four-cylinder, manual transmission: 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway
2.0-liter four-cylinder, automatic transmission 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway
2.5-liter four-cylinder, manual transmission: 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway
2.5-liter four-cylinder, automatic transmission: 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway
2.0-liter four-cylinder (Skyactiv), 28-29 mpg city/39-40 mpg highway

You'll Like

  • Great powertrain
  • Responsive chassis
  • Long standard features list

You Won't Like

  • Small navigation screen
  • Cargo room

Sum Up

With engine updates, the Mazda3 is better prepared to tackle new compacts.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Honda Civic
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Volkswagen Golf
  • Kia Forte

See the New 2015 MAZDA3.

Front & Driver Side View

2012 Mazda MAZDA3 Consumer Rating

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