Mazda 3 takes a big step forward with SKYACTIV

Wheels of the Week
Mazda 3

Full disclosure. I drive a Mazda. It wasn’t by choice. My father bought it for my grand father. It was later handed down to me when the latter passed on. It’s a 323 for those wondering. The emblem in front still featured the old one.

My Mazda 323 has been with me for the past four years. We’ve had our ups and downs. We were together for some of the best out of town trips but we also had our quarrels, the worst of which was broken clutch kit in the middle of C5.

Imagine how excited I was to drive the new Mazda 3 with SKYACTIV technology.

Eye popping exterior

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Mazda 3 SKYACTIV R four-door AT in all its Soul Red glory. The 1,211,800-peso price tag might take some people aback but digging deeper will make you realize that it will be money well spent.

My first reaction after seeing the car was that it was a Mazda 6. I’ve seen pictures and I’ve seen it on the road but looking at it up close is a huge difference. The new Mazda 3 has this fierce look on it. I don’t know if the effect is the same with other colors but the Soul Red just demands attention.

From the 18-inch rims to the lines that hug the side of the car, everything jives together for a clean look.

Experiencing SKYACTIV

Pardon my ignorance but during the first time I heard of Mazda’s SKYACTIV Technology, I thought it was completely because of the sunroof. Boy, was I wrong. (Although I absolutely loved having a sunroof. Getting natural light while driving around the city made it more relaxing for me.)

SKYACTIV Technology is all about doing more with less. They took some weight off the car but still made sure the material is stronger. It has an i-Stop and an i-ELOOP system that switch the engine off whenever the car is in full stop to conserve fuel.

It was my first time to drive an automobile with this kind of technology. The first few kilometers scared me because with my old Mazda 323 the first thing I do after the engine dies is switch off the air-conditioning and say a quick prayer that the engine would start again.

After a couple of stops, I was fine. What helped is the smooth stopping and starting. You will barely hear anything when you release the brake and put it on Drive.

Highway driving could get you as far as 12 kilometers per liter. It dwindles down to about 8 in moderate traffic with the i-Stop system on.

Bells and whistles

The exterior looked good and the technology was undoubtedly well planned but what made me fall in love with his sedan is its interior. The comfy leather seats are accented with red stitching. The paddle shifting, the center console, and the LCD display combine to give you the feeling that Mazda was completely thinking of you when they were designing this car.

The center console featuring two wheels was lovely. It has the old iPod feel to it. You can turn the bigger wheel to select whatever you want to see on the center display. The smaller wheel lets you adjust the radio’s volume with ease. A gentle push will put it on mute.

I also loved the panel mounted above the meter hood that shows you how fast you’re going without having to look at the dashboard. Now only minimal eye movement is required to check speed, which means you’ll have less time looking away from the road.

I drove it under heavy torrential rain, which introduced me to the rain-sensing wipers. It’s a neat feature because you won’t have to adjust the wipers’ speed every single time downpour changes.

As I’ve said above, the price tag will might make you think twice if this is the car for you. But if you hop on it and soak in a complete experience, you’ll easily find out that it’s worth every peso.

The Mazda 3 SKYACTIV was an absolute dream. Please wish me luck when I get back to my old one.

My favorite things:

1.    i-Stop and i-ELOOP technology
2.    Rain sensing wipers
3.     Wheel-based center module

My not-so-favorite thing:
1.    Leg room for rear passengers