Monday, October 21, 2013

2014 Mazda 3 SKYACTIV Continues Automaker’s Hot Run

Following the success of the Mazda 6 SKYACTIV, the new Mazda 3 SKYACTIVE could battle its sister vehicle for Car of the Year.
The Mazda 3 SKYACTIV is an affordable, stylish drivers’ car with awards incoming.
It’s been a hell of a year for Mazda, and that’s left the company with a problem its rivals wish they had.
Earlier in its 2014 campaign, the independently minded Japanese automaker introduced its Mazda 6 SKYACTIV, That model was being kicked around as a candidate for Car of the Year amongst many auto writers and publications.
However, during a recent rollout in San DIego, Mazda trotted out its latest Mazda 3 SKYACTIV to a consistently positive response – driving many to question which car warrants the hardest push come award season.
For those scoring along at home, the Mazda 6 SKYACTIV rolled out earlier at a press event outside Austin in the Texas hill country. With an aggressive redesign combined with Mazda’s anti-hybrid SKYACTIV technology, the vehicle was received positively almost universally in reviews and write ups – including mine.
As way of quick review, SKYACTIV is Mazda’s answer to other automakers slaving to electric cars and hybrids. Rather than develop an expensive hybrid or an electric car that runs 40 miles before it’s a two ton paperweight, Mazda chose compression engine technology.
Mazda designed the most efficient engines they could, perfecting lighter materials and tighter transmissions. SKYACTIV made Mazdas into a trimmer, fitter high-tech product line that could move quicker with less fuel spent. The result is higher mileage in every new vehicle Mazda sends our way – with the magic number of 40 mpg in highway driving conditions always in the mix.
I’ve written in the past that it was a brilliant move by Mazda because they’ve managed to respond to the marketplace’s demand for more fuel efficiency without sacrificing their identity and purpose – to build affordable drivers’ cars. They’re not in the tinny, spongy hybrid business or the numbing hum electric game. Mazda lives by the Kodo code – “Soul of Motion.” SKYACTIV lets the car maker produce more responsible cars without abandoning the fun of driving.
No car in the Mazda line relies so heavily on that element of fun as the Mazda 3. Whether in its sedan version or its sporty hatch incarnation, the 3 is a key vehicle for its maker with a special place in the marketplace. The Mazda 2 is the entry level vehicle – affordable transportation for two people and a couple bags of groceries. The Mazda 6 is the family car with some guts. But, the Mazda 3 bridges a gap between family drivers, affordable sport drivers and urban travelers.
The new Mazda 3 features a redesigned, more aggressive grill and refined, smoothed lines that sweep from nose to tail. The interior is attractive, if not luxurious. Again, Mazda looks to provide good drivers’ cars at an affordable price (starting around $19,000 in this case). So, don’t come looking for 206 position power seats and robotic baby sitters.
That’s not to say you’ll be driving like a caveman. Depending on your trim level, you can drive home with sat nav, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio and all of the other modern bells and whistles.
Still, the proof is in the driving, and the Mazda 3 honors every tradition of Kodo – serving up a quick, responsive, grounded and exciting ride in a car that could just as easily be used by soccer moms and urban bachelors.
The 2014 Mazda 3 is a great to look at and a joy to drive, earning our highest regards here and no doubt driving away into Car of the Year lists somewhere by Christmas.