Unless you’re a die hard Mazda fan, you probably don’t realize how many different 2012 Mazda3 compact car variants are offered by your local Mazda dealer. For the coming year, there are 11 possible combinations of trim and body style, aimed at both fuel conscious and performance-oriented buyers.
It’s no wonder that Mazda North America president Jim O’Sullivan refers to the Mazda3 as the “core of the Mazda lineup,” and it’s also no surprise that the Mazda3 accounts for 40 percent of the brand’s sales. When changes are made to a product this important, they’re made only after careful consideration.
Starting things off is the Mazda3 i SV, available in sedan form only, which gets a price drop to $15,200 for 2012. That buys you updated exterior front styling, new cloth seats and Mazda’s proven MZR 2.0-liter four cylinder engine. Opt for the Mazda3 i Sport sedan, and the price jumps to $16,845, but you get added content like remote keyless entry and an available five-speed Sport automatic transmission.
Next up are the Touring trim levels, which include the SkyActiv 2.0-liter four cylinder engine. Compared to Mazda’s MZR 2.0-liter engine, the SkyActiv produces five percent more horsepower, 10 percent more peak torque and 21 percent better fuel economy, which translates to an EPA rating of up to 39 mpg highway. Prices for the Mazda3 i Touring sedan start at $18,450, while the Mazda3 i Touring hatchback starts at $18,950.
Opt for the well-appointed Grand Touring trim, and you’ll get amenities such as leather upholstery, heated front seats, a navigation system and a Bose Centerpoint audio system while still reaping the benefits of Mazda’s SkyActiv 2.0-liter engine. The Mazda3 i Grand Touring sedan starts at $22,300, while the Mazda3 i Grand Touring hatchback begins at $22,800.
If you want a little more grunt than the other models offer, but don’t need the push-you-back-in-your-seat thrust of the Mazdaspeed3, Mazda offers the Mazda 3 s models as a reasonable alternative. All feature a 2.5-liter version of the MZR four-cylinder engine, good for 167 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque, and s models are available in both Touring and Grand Touring trims.
The 2012 Mazda3 s Touring sedan starts at $21,300, and the Mazda3 s Touring hatchback prices from $21,800. Mazda hasn’t published pricing on the Grand Touring trims, but we suspect they’ll start at $23,500 for the Mazda3 s Grand Touring sedan and at $24,000 for the Mazda 3 s Grand Touring hatchback.
Finally, the much beloved, row-your-own-gears Mazdaspeed3 hot hatchback returns for 2012, priced at $24,000. The only option is the $2,135 Technology package, which now includes a blind-spot monitoring system unavailable on previous year Mazdaspeed3 models.