Mazda joins the 40-mpg club with the 2012 Mazda3

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 26, 2011

The 2012 Mazda3, which will start selling in late summer, is the first model from the carmaker that offers 40-mpg. It is powered by a new 2.0-liter gasoline direct-injection engine and new transmission. The new powertrain is included in Mazda's upcoming family of SkyActiv technologies that are meant to reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency.

This includes new engines, transmissions, chassis and frame technology. Mazda asserts that the 2012 Mazda3 sedan with the 2.0-liter SkyActiv engine and SkyActiv automatic transmission will return 28 mpg city/40 mpg highway.

In comparison, the 2011 Mazda3's 2.0-liter engine had a 24 mpg city/33 mpg highway rating. The freshened Mazda3, which was presented at the New York auto show, will still be available with its base 2.0-liter and higher-power 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines.

Pricing for the new SkyActiv engine hasn’t been decided yet. Robert Davis, senior vice president of product development for Mazda North America, said that the company also hasn’t determined yet what the packaging of the new engine and transmission will be within the Mazda3's trim lineup.

However, the non-GDI 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter will still be available and so the new SkyActiv engine will be, at the least, a midlevel upgrade from the base Mazda3's 2.0-liter. At the New York show, Mazda also introduced the Minagi concept, which is a close-to-production version of its CX-5 compact crossover that will go on sale in 2012.

The Mazda 3 is highly regarded for its sporty and exciting handling as well as pleasurable driving, which highlights the agreement between a driver’s expectations and a car’s response. The fresh 2012 Mazda 3 inherits this pedigree, improving the feeling of oneness between car and driver and also offering a comfortable driving experience felt by all passengers and enjoyed in different driving situations.

Toitsukan as it is commonly referred to is a linear and consistent feeling, more particularly about creating smooth transitions in between acceleration, deceleration and lateral G forces with regards to the fundamental aspects of driving, stopping and turning.

This is not only about giving a speedy response to accelerator or the steering operations to have a sporty ride but rather its focus is on giving a linear, consistent feeling of every response of the car to control driver operations. Toitsukan further makes driving a pleasurable experience and instills drivers with the feeling of excitement and control of the wheel while providing passengers with a comfortable ride generated by a smooth, stable car movement.

A lot of concentrated effort was exerted to make sure that Toitsukan is accomplished throughout the features of the car, also resulting in a more powerful body by adopting the Electro-Hydraulic Power Assist Steering or EHPAS system as well as optimizing tuning of the dampers on the front and rear. The EHPAS system uses a new setting for pump flow features that allow much easier handling at lower speeds and at the same time, attain more positive feedback plus a better feel of the road from mid-range to high speeds. This causes a lighter, more agile steering wheel as compared to the existing model.

Simply put, turning the wheel slowly gives a small change in direction and turning it a lot gives a greater change in direction. Though it seems easy, only some manufacturers are able to reach this intuition level.

The 2012 Mazda 3’s body has been reinforced even further for more rigidity, exceeding the handling stability and stellar agility of the current model. This was partially accomplished by adding more spot welds used in joining the suspension crossmembers (on which suspensions on the front and rear are mounted) to the reinforced areas of the body. Using stronger reinforcement materials made it possible to more efficiently disperse input from suspension crossmember mounts to the body, thus greatly enhancing overall body rigidity.

Furthermore, the two reinforcement bars underneath the middle of the floor panel of the present Mazda 3 were substituted with a stronger and more rigid new single brace. Using this reinforcing material sheet suppresses before and after body deformation. This only applies to models with MZR 2.5-liter or SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter engines.

In addition, models equipped with SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter gasoline engines include a drive control system, which controls generation of torque to keep a harmonious balance between the gears of the transmission and engine output. Programmed in a way to determine the amount of acceleration required with regard to the amount of acceleration during pedal action, the system makes sure that the exact amount of torque produced matches the demands of acceleration. This fills the driver with a feeling of confidence that the car will respond dependably as anticipated. The desired speed of the driver can be achieved without stepping too hard on the accelerator, thus, reducing the consumption of fuel.

Topics: mazda, mazda3

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