Prior to last year, the Mazda3 was near the back of the pack with respect to gas mileage. But with the introduction of a new family of SkyActiv powertrains the Mazda3's mileage is now surprisingly good--especially considering that it's one of the most enjoyable small cars to drive.
Choose the Mazda3i Sport, Touring, or Grand Touring models (hatch or sedan) and you'll get up to 40 mpg on the highway, from this new high-compression, direct-injection engine. Both the six-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions that come with that engine are all-new, too, with the automatic boasting much-increased torque-converter lockup--helping mileage and also increasing the level of control.
The Mazda3i Touring or Grand Touring, with the six-speed automatic, is rated at 28 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, or 27/39 with the six-speed manual. Hatchback models are rated one mile per gallon lower on the highway, due to a slightly worse (0.29, versus 0.27) coefficient of drag.
Opt for the base SV, or the Mazda3 s models, and you won't do nearly as well. You'll essentially get the carryover engine and transmission combinations, with ratings that range down to 21 mpg city, 29 highway.
In repeat drives of the SkyActiv models, we've seen excellent real-world mileage that meets EPA ratings without driving as a featherfoot.