January 15, 2013
Review by Jim Kerr, photos courtesy Mazda Canada
2013 MAZDA3 SPORT
The Mazda3 has been on the market since 2004 and has undergone styling changes and the addition of features in the past decade, but one thing hasn’t changed – the feeling of fun and sporty handling in all of their vehicles. For the 2013 Mazda3, that theme continues, with the addition of a Touring Edition option to the lineup.
The Mazda3 is available in both sedan and five-door hatchback models, with the hatchback called the Mazda3 Sport. The three trim levels of the Mazda3 Sport start with the GX priced at $16,995, the middle trim GS starts with a price of $20,695 and the top of the line GT trim is priced at $26,995. The GS trim will be the most popular for several reasons. It comes standard with features such as air conditioning and cruise control, but the biggest reason for choosing this version is it is currently the only Mazda3 Sport that comes with the SkyActiv powertrain.
2013 Mazda3 Sport. Click image to enlarge
SkyActiv incorporates new engine and transmission designs as well as structural body stiffening. As the SkyActiv program is introduced to other Mazda models, it also includes suspension design changes for even better handling. The SkyActiv engine and transmission technology in the Mazda3 Sport provide not only an increase in fuel economy but add to the driving fun, too.
The 2.0L direct-injected four-cylinder SkyActiv engine was completely redesigned to reduce parasitic drag, increase efficiency, and produce more power. Mazda uses a 12:1 compression ratio to optimize power but it will still operate on regular fuel. The engine response is great at any speed, allowing the driver to idle along in fourth gear at city speeds and even start out in third gear of the manual transmission (inadvertently) without any complaints! Even in sixth gear, the engine pulls smoothly and accelerates progressively on the highway.
Both the manual and automatic transmissions are completely new designs, lighter, more efficient and great to drive. The manual shifter has the lightest and shortest throw of any I have driven and it flicks through the gears seamlessly. Our test vehicle came with the optional six-speed automatic gearbox and the programming is excellent, keeping the transmission in the correct gear at all times. The lockup converter engages at a very low speed, so the car has the same connected feel of driving with a manual gearbox.