Unless you pop the hood, you’ll have to look closely to identify a 2012 Mazda3 from its predecessors. Most of the revisions made to the revised compact model, unveiled today at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, lie beneath the skin.
The 2012 Mazda3 is the first production model to implement Mazda’s newSkyActivpowertrain, which aims to eke additional economy and performance from existing drivetrain technologies. The Mazda3 will be offered with Mazda’s SkyActiv-G gasoline engine, along with an efficient SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission.
Detailed specifications are still forthcoming, but the Mazda3’s Sky-G engine is a 2.0-liter, direct-injection I-4, which features a 14:1 compression ratio to boost low-end torque. Corporate representatives have shied away from promising any fuel economy figures, but Mazda has previously suggested that the optimized Sky drivelines can increase fuel economy by at least 15 percent.
Although the SkyActiv-G engine is similar in specification to that used in the Japanese-market Mazda3, there’s still no word if Mazda’s i-Stop engine start/stop function is destined for North America. Representatives tell us the system, which promises a 10-percent fuel economy improvement in urban traffic is still being considered, but is years away. We’ve previously been told that Canada, which is ramping up anti-idle mandates, may be the first North American market to receive the technology.
2012 3s are also treated toa modest exterior makeover. Updates include reshaped headlamps, a mildly tweaked grille and air intakes, and a reshaped rear valance panel.
The 2012 Mazda3 is expected to roll into U.S. showrooms later this fall. Pricing has yet to be announced, but we expect base prices to remain around the $16,000 mark for an entry-level sedan.