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The new face of best in class
by Craig Cole

Since it went on sale in 2003 the Mazda3 has become a vital product for the Japanese automaker. In fact over the last decade they’ve delivered more than 3.5 million of these compact cars. It accounts for 30 percent of the brand’s sales around the world, which means nearly one out of three Mazdas sold is a 3.

But now the company is in a bit of a tough spot. How do you improve a wildly successful product without alienating exiting customers or driving away other potential buyers? The answer is carefully, very carefully. The devil really is in the details.

SKYACTIV TO THE BONE

Fuel economy is the No. 1 driving force behind many automotive trends these days. The need for ever-greater efficiency is pushing car companies to explore things like advanced drivetrain technologies, cutting-age materials and even new fuels. But delivering mega miles per gallon is not enough, it has to be attainable by normal drivers; that is the true challenge this industry faces.

Rather than relying on a single magic bullet solution to maximize economy Mazda is taking a holistic approach with its Skyactiv technology suite.

To deliver the goods every component gets scrutinized and optimized to reduce weight or improve efficiency. This ranges from the vehicle’s very foundation, the unibody architecture, to engines, transmissions and beyond. For U.S.-market cars the weight savings are in the neighborhood of 100 pounds, which is huge for a vehicle that’s structurally stiffer and rides on a longer wheelbase.

This attention to detail has really paid off; the 2014 Mazda3 delivers some pretty impressive fuel-economy numbers. The most efficient version of the car is a four-door sedan with the base 2.0-liter engine and an automatic transmission. These models are estimated to deliver 30 miles per gallon in city driving and up to 41 on the highway!
Read the complete 2014 Mazda3 Review at AutoGuide.com
 
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