2013 Mazda 3 Sport GS-SKY Touring
2.0L L4 SKYACTIV-G DOHC 16-valve
155 @ 6000
148 @ 4100
7.1 / 4.9
Mazda is a manufacturer with a racing pedigree who primarily delivers vehicles with a Zoom-Zoom factor. Skyactiv is their latest trend and is in essence the philosophy of optimizing the “ordinary” car and making it as fuel efficient as possible. By doing that, one would wonder if SKYACTIV contradicts with Zoom-Zoom. Can they coexist or do they compromise each other? This is the puzzle we need to solve and the 2013 Mazda 3 Sport GS-SKYACTIV Touring Edition is the vehicle we will use for it.
Compared to the non-SKYACTIV Mazda 3 editions, the exterior design remains the same and the only thing giving away the secret of what is under the hood is a pretty little blue badge at the rear right. The dynamic design, with the optimized smiley front face and low sporty tail are essential in achieving a good drag co-efficient. The front fender line may have visually missed the side body line and the 16-inch alloys might seem small now days, but there are reasons behind these things.
The front fender line that looks odd, actually redirects airflow above the side mirrors and the 16-inch alloy wheels come with enough rubber to provide a silent ride and more cushioning over bumps. In practice both have worked, as the car feels like it really slips through the air and even at very high speeds, the cabin is quiet and refined.
The interior somehow feels very upmarket compared to its rivals, soft to the touch material has been used for the top of the dash and fit and finish are really good. Squeaks and rattles have no place here and ergonomically the interior design scores very high. The instrument panel is well sized and clear to read, the info screen and entertainment system are easy and straight forward to navigate and use and all the buttons are laid-out in a very logical order.
The front seats and their side support are definitely zoom-zoom certified. They feel very comfortable but at the same time hug and support the whole body. The driver’s seat has plenty of power adjustments to help you find your ideal driving position and the steering wheel is also adjustable for height and reach to make it even easier to settle in. Driving the car feels like you embed yourself to it rather than riding in it. The rear seats offer acceptable space but can become very tight if the passengers occupying the front are over 6ft tall. The available width isn’t much and quite a squish will occur if carrying three adults is the goal. Restrict the number to two and they will be a lot happier. The cargo space is moderate, maybe not the best in class, but it is well shaped and the hatch opens from down low creating an almost flat loading area. At 340lt with the cargo cover on and 481lt with it off, it’s decently sized and with the 60/40 rear folding seats longer items can also be accommodated on demand.
Prices for the SKYACTIV models start at $20,695 while our GS-SKY Touring Mazda 3 Sport as tested was $25,590 and came with all the features you would ever really need like a moonfoor, a very smooth 6-speed automatic gearbox with sequential control, stability control, a mind blowing 10-speaker Bose sound system, leather seats, Bluetooth connectivity and USB ports, cruise control, auto lights and wipers, heated front seats, auto dual-zone climate control and more.
The 2.0lt 4-Cylinder SKYACTIV motor outputs 155bhp and 148lb-ft of torque. It is perky and feels like a rubber band. It just pulls effortlessly from any speed and in any gear. It doesn’t impress with its flat-out performance, but it does gather speed quickly and when cruising, it is very quiet and refined. Fuel consumption is phenomenal for a conventional car that runs on regular unleaded. During our test, we averaged 7.9lt/100km which broken down consisted of 75% city and 25% highway.
On the road, the chassis feels like a roll-cage as it is very rigid and athletic. It irons out rough surfaces with little to no difficulty while at the same time it is engaging and fun in the corners. Grip limits are not very high but beyond them the body reacts progressively and retaining control is a piece of cake, also thanks to the light but sharp steering that provides good feedback. The brake pedal feels a bit spongy and perhaps requires more force than expected but the results are rather good as the car came to a complete stop from 100km/h in 47m despite the wet conditions.
The Mazda 3 is one of the best built cars you can get in the segment and is made for an engaging drive. Most of the parts are proven as they were carried over from the previous model so reliability should be no issue. SKYACTIV technology really works and only a good hybrid or diesel can claim better mileage. Good looking and great to drive the 2013 Mazda 3 has only one serious problem. The “Kodo” design 2014 Mazda 3 arriving in a couple of months.
Bose sound system
Rear seats a bit tight