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    Interactive Review: 2012 Mazda 3i Grand Touring Hatchback


    William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    October 12, 2012

    Coming in this week at the Cheers & Gears Detroit garage is the 2012 Mazda3 i Grand Touring hatchback. This 3 is equipped with a 2.0L SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder producing 150 HP and 155 lb-ft of torque and goes through a six-speed automatic. If you're wondering, this is the same powertrain package in the Mazda CX-5 crossover I had back in August.

    The 3 i Grand Touring starts at $23,150 and my test vehicle stickers at $25,345* (includes $795 destination charge) thanks to the optional Technology Package.

    I had this car for about day and there are some items that impress me and others that drive me somewhat crazy.

    • 2.0L SKYACTIV engine doesn't feel sluggish at all in the 3. I'm thinking the lighter weight of the 3 to the CX-5 plays a role.
    • Handling is sublime and fun. The car is stable when turning and the steering is just right in feel and weight.
    • Ride could use some improvement as the 3 will transmit every little bump into the interior.
    • Average fuel economy so far is an impressive 35 MPG (EPA rating is 28 City/39 Highway/32 Combined)

    I have the 3 till Wednesday and will be updating before it goes back. If you have any questions for the 3, drop them below and I will do my best to answer them.

    Update: October 15, 2012

    It has been an interesting weekend with the Mazda 3 as it had to deal with endless rain and being used to carry a good amount of stuff to the recycling bin as I was cleaning out my closet. The 3 dealt with both of these without a sweat.

    Average fuel economy has dropped to about 33 MPG, which is still above the combined fuel economy figure. I also did a bit of highway driving which saw fuel economy climb to an impressive 40 MPG. The highway also revealed that the Mazda3 isn't so good at containing road noise.

    I'll have one more update before the 3 leaves on Wednesday. If you have anymore questions, please don't hesitate. Drop them off.

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    How does the fit and finish compared to other auto's you have reviewed in this category?

    I own a 2012 Mazda 3 i Skyactiv since Febuary this year. To answer your question, I will break down in two categories:

    1. Mechanical and Structure - Very high tolerance in term of fit and finish. If you get a chance to crawl underneath the car, you will see all the components are logically arranged and the wires and hoses are secured neatly with clips in pure Japanese way of doing things in "details". The Mazda engineers did a good job in heat management.

    2. Body and trim panels are fitted like in 90's standard. The gap control in all body panels are not exact. My car's bumper and hood joint is not spaced evenly. I verified at the dealer lots, all hatchback produced in 01/2012 suffered this symptom. The door panel trim has a sharp edge and not flush fitted. My car's driver rear door has a upper interior door trim that was not seated flush to the door frame leaving a sharp plastic edge sticking out. Based on my experience in plastic production, the trim panel and the blow molded front bumper has a poor tolerance control. A worn mold or an old equipment with incorrect blow pressure might be a result.

    Bottom line is you buy this car for the handling and mechanical components - Yes, you will be happy to own Mazda 3 like me.

    For a premium car's quality interior and perfect sheet metal fits - Ha, you are better off buying a ford Fiesta, Focus, Matrix, Carolla, Camry, Accord, Altima. Pay close attention, you will see what I am talking about.

    Example: Old Camry, Toyota cut a corner on heat shields so you can see a tail pipe below the chasis. That is normally non-engineer will not catch and it has nothing to do with reliability. For me, that is like doing homework without a full effort. I bought a Mazda for engineering. Mazda still needs quite bit work on panel and trim design and manufacture.

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    The above guest poster is correct, the fit and finish isn't anywhere near as good as the Focus.

    Focus ST pretty much cleans the clock of the Mazdaspeed three and makes it scream for mercy as far as fit, finish and drive goes.

    Mazda 3 does drive very well though....

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    For a premium car's quality interior and perfect sheet metal fits - Ha, you are better off buying a ford Fiesta, Focus, Matrix, Carolla, Camry, Accord, Altima. Pay close attention, you will see what I am talking about.

    I've got a Focus. Sheet metal fits are by no means perfect. The 12-year-old 5-series also sitting in our driveway is much better in that regard.

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    How does the fit and finish compared to other auto's you have reviewed in this category?

    Compared to the Chevrolet Cruze (I'm excluding the Dart since I didn't really spend enough time with it), I'm finding the 3 to be on par with fit and finish.

    NEEDS REDESIGN. same basic look for too many years now.

    See this - http://www.cheersandgears.com/topic/80058-mazda-news-rumorpile-what-we-know-on-the-next-mazda3/

    Due out either next year or 2014.

    I will be doing an update sometime later today.

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    I am glad to see so many people joining the discussion. The Cruz 's fit and finish is pretty good. I went to check out Dart, the fit and finish is about par to Mazda 3; One note to potential Chrysler buyers: When you go shopping, check the used lot for the same model. I notice the material Chrysler uses to make coolant reservoir and windshield washer turns yellow after sitting on the lot for few months. I noticed that when I was bored and went to local dealerships "window" shopping. The only way to explain that is the plastic material used is too cheap.

    To improve the fit and finish for current Mazda 3 is not hard. The front facia alignment can be done through designing a bumper be able to move in and out indepedent to headlight. The current model has a plastic anchor bolt to head light. I thought about adjusting mine, but I was concerned changing headlight aim. The door trim can be done with hiding the joint behind a false plastic facia like building a house hiding all imperfections with caulking. If you look at new CR-V's wheel fender wall plastic trim, the bumper goes behind plastic trim. Even bumper missed alignment with fender a little, the customer can not see it because it is hidden behind a trim. Mazda certainly can use this trick to "improve" fit and finish.

    My wish is Mazda makes Mazda 5 six inches longer. 4 inches goes to 3rd row leg room, make bumper facia smaller and increase rear cargo room 2 ~ 3 inches longer, ride on new 6 chasis rather than 3's, equip with the 2.2 Skyactiv-D with 6 speed automatic and market around US$27,000 in USA market. I always want to buy a people hauler van, but I don't want anything on the market today. Mazda 5 is my preferred choice If Mazda can grant me the wish above. That will be awsome.

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