2012 Mazda 3 Maxx Sport

2012 Mazda 3 Maxx Sport – The insane Mazda3 is about to do it again. Provided there are no more ‘Mayan Calendar’ events between now and December 31, it will end 2012 as Australia’s best-selling car.

And despite the current model being from 2009, it’s the top seller ahead of Toyota’s HiLux and the new Corolla.

2012 Mazda 3 Maxx Sport

The Neo and Maxx Sport models are still displacement 3s, but we thought it was time to look at the gas-efficiency hero SP20 model, which costs just $1500 more than the nearly identical automatic Maxx Sport Sedan.

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The sedan also promises the best fuel consumption of the SP20s (6.1 l/100 km versus 6.2 l/100 km for the hatch), thanks to an 11 kg weight advantage and a slightly nicer body.

The only 3 to improve on the SP20’s efficiency is the $630 cheaper diesel (sedan) model, but its tiny 0.4L/100km advantage will be largely overcome by manual transmission.

Quality: Like all 3 current models, the SP20’s interior design is starting to approach the more recent CX-5 and Mazda6 interiors.

Comfort: The non-luxury SP20 makes do with cloth seats, but the adjustable steering wheel and gear selector remain leather-wrapped.

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Despite being “small,” there’s plenty of room in the front and back for those up to five feet tall, and all-around seating proved comfortable in testing.

Equipment: The SP20 fits well into the Maxx Sport’s mid-range range with equipment including cruise control, dual-zone climate control, a 4.1-inch multi-function display, an MP3-compatible CD player with auxiliary and USB inputs, Bluetooth, automatic headlights and wipers.

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On the outside, the SP20 is equipped with 16-inch Maxx Sport alloys, auxiliary front lights, side skirts and rear lip spoiler.

Storage: Front and rear there are cup holders in each door, a console bin with a lid, a handy glove box and premium sunglass holders.

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The SP20 sedan’s 400-litre ‘seats up’ storage space is 100 liters more than the hatch version and expands economically with a 60/40 split. Like all 3, the SP20 comes with a steel spare wheel.

Capacity: On paper, the SP20’s SkyActiv-G 2.0-litre petrol four appears to offer little more than the current 2.0-litre found in the Neo and Maxx Sport models.

Output increases by 5kW and 12Nm to 113kW/194Nm, while power and torque arrive 500rpm and 400rpm earlier, respectively, which benefits throttle response and fuel efficiency.

Despite using a high 12:1 compression ratio, the SP20 only manages to do its best on standard unleaded 91RON – the clear advantage of SkyActive-G direct fuel injection.

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The engine is mated to Mazda’s SkyActiv six-speed automatic transmission and stop/start system to record an official combined fuel consumption figure of 6.1L/100km – a significant 2.1L/100km better than the Maxx Sport automatic sedan.

With plenty of right foot and urban vigilance on test, we tested the figure SP20 to a still impressive 6.8L/100km.

The six-speed automatic does a good job of keeping the engine close to its 4100rpm torque peak and, combined with the SP20 sedan’s 1318kg curb weight, provides comfortable performance on the open road.

We ran our way across the Blue Mountains west of Sydney back-to-back with the CX-5 Maxx Sport using the same train, and found the SP20 had a small but noticeable advantage when hauling weekend camping gear across the Great Dividing. Stage.

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In short, the engine that many consider the CX-5’s weak link is an absolute gem in the lighter 3 SP20.

Refinement: Compared to the older Mazda 2.0-litre petrol, the SkyActiv-G 2.0-litre petrol four feels like a generation earlier than the SP20 – because it is.

Its willingness to turn and slide is a credit to Mazda’s engineers, but overall cabin noise lags behind the flagships, especially newer models.

The BL 3 is an older design and cabin noise has been a 3 feature for two generations, but it’s unlikely to be a deal breaker.

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Suspension: The traditional MacPherson strut front end is matched well with a multi-link rear, as the chassis continues to invoke a sporty Zoom Zoom bias.

On the SP20’s 16-inch tires, the ride was a bit harsher than most small hatches, but most will appreciate the resulting sporty feel.

Braking: Compared to the Maxx Sport, the SP20 gets 22mm larger front brakes by 300mm from the hotter 2.5-litre SP25 model. Great feel and matched the performance of the SP20 well.

Safety equipment: Dual front, side and curtain airbags, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, emergency brake assist and active front head restraints.

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Mazda 3 Maxx Sport Sedan Automatic ($26,490) – For $1500 less than the SP20 SkyActiv sedan, the Max Sport uses the older, less refined 2.0-litre petrol engine, lowers the gear ratio and 5kW/12Nm, and fuel consumption increases by 2.1L/100km. Almost different from the specification. (See 3 reviews)

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Ford Focus Trend sedan with automatic Powershift ($24,590) – half a liter behind the SP20’s combined fuel figure (at 6.6L/100km), but a fresher overall design and almost $3500 cheaper.

Honda Civic VTi-LN ($26,990) – The closest Civic sedan in terms of spec, efficiency and price is $1K cheaper, but the smaller 1.8-liter engine and five-speed automatic lag behind the SP20’s performance. Also drinks 0.6 liters/100 more. (see Civic reviews)

The Mazda3 SP20’s response to the fuel economy challenge is unconventional, as it does not use a hybrid powertrain, forced induction or diesel technology.

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It relies solely on enhanced technology enhancements with reduced friction, direct fuel injection, stop/start technology and an advanced automatic transmission to deliver an economy of 2.1L/100km on the standard petrol 3 model.

At just a $1500 premium over the Maxx Sport, it adds a lot of Mazda’s next-gen to the 3.5-year-old body design.

We’d recommend taking one for a spin if you’re considering a gas automatic — as most current minivan buyers are.

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