Before the end of 2009, the European Mazda3 will be fitted with the company's fuel-saving engine stop/start technology (dubbed SISS). We're not certain when this technology will be offered stateside, but we expect Mazda to extend it to U.S.-bound cars soon; the company currently offers neither hybrids nor diesels in a market that is rapidly becoming more consumption-conscious.
How would you feel if your neighbor's larger, heavier 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid, with its superior mileage, wiped the wacky grin off your new Mazda3's face? While a bit of a stopgap efficiency measure when compared to a gas/electric hyrid powertrain, stop/start does yield incremental mileage gains by shutting the engine down while stopped at a light. When paired with a twin-clutch automated manual, also on schedule for the European Mazda3 in 2010, and perhaps direct-injection sometime down the road, efficiency will increase ever further.
2010 Mazda3Enlarge Photo
Stop/start will be offered initially on the European Mazda3 in 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter varieties. As our base car in the U.S. uses a 2.0-liter unit, it seems to follow that this technology will trickle over to the U.S. The EPA gives the 2009 Mazda3 ratings of 24/32 with a 5-speed manual and 22/30 with an automatic transmission (the newly-released 2010 model has not yet been rated). The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is currently the mid-size hybrid mpg champ with ratings of 41 mpg city, 36 mpg highway.