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Test complete video: 2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv

Consumer Reports News: March 30, 2012 12:38 PM

We've enjoyed Mazda3s for years. They've often been the driver's choice for the most fun-to-drive small sedan. And now they're very fuel efficient, as well.

The 2012 model year ushered in the company's new SkyActiv 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It uses a variety of technologies, including direct injection and a very high compression ratio, to eke out maximum fuel economy. While the base 2.0-liter engine remains available, Mazda says the majority of Mazda3 buyers pay the extra money to get the SkyActiv drivetrain.

Also helping to ease the pain at the pump is the move to a six-speed automatic. A slick-shifting manual transmission is also available.

We're impressed with this new engine. Combined with the automatic, we got 32 mpg overall in our tests. That puts it among the most efficient cars in its class.

This new technology also doesn't put a damper on performance: Acceleration times remain brisk. The 3 maintains its status as an enjoyable small car, complete with very responsive steering that delivers great driver feedback. The ride is quite good, with impressive composure for a small sedan. Stopping distances are also improved compared to the last Mazda 3i Touring sedan we tested.

Some road noise still makes its way into the cabin, though. The 3 isn't a quiet car. Another downside? The backseat is tight, with not much leg room.

Take a look at this recent road test video to find out why we think the Mazda3 ranks among the best small sedans, and read our complete road test for all insights, specs, and Ratings.

Mike Quincy

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