The Mazda3 SkyActiv is on the cutting edge of improved overall vehicle efficiency technology.
The Mazda3 SkyActiv is on the cutting edge of improved overall vehicle efficiency technology. Contributed

Mazda3 SkyActiv leads the way

MAZDA has turned up the heat even further on the competition by giving its hot-selling Mazda3 a mid-life upgrade that is more than skin deep.

Along with significant price cuts that drop by as much as $1870, Mazda has added an additional model to the range that squeezes into the 3 line-up between the Maxx Sport and SP25.

Dubbed the SP20 SkyActiv, it is the first car in the Japanese brand's model line-up to adopt the so-called SkyActiv technology, a package that has already started to find its way into all Mazda vehicles, starting with the new CX-5 launched in February.

But what is SkyActiv?

It is Mazda speak for a diverse spread of technologies aimed at improving overall vehicle efficiency and has a different meaning depending on whether you are talking about engines, transmissions or chassis.

While the complete package is now on show in the CX-5, the Mazda3 introduced SkyActiv courtesy of a new two-litre SkyActiv-G engine, which delivers a 15 per cent improvement in both torque and fuel economy.

To help the SP20 achieve its class-leading 6.1 litres/100km fuel-consumption figure (hatch 6.2 litres), Mazda engineers have tweaked the two-litre four-cylinder engine via a 12:1 compression ratio, new pistons, new multi-jet injectors, a newly designed crank shaft and lighter engine components.

The engine is mated to a super-smooth new six-speed sports-shifting automatic transmission and engineers have also improved the car's suspension, damping and aerodynamics.

Power and torque have increased by 4.6% and 6.6% respectively while fuel efficiency has improved by an amazing 25.6%.

Priced from $29,990, the new SP20 SkyActiv is sure to attract a lot of admirers and for $3000 more you can add a luxury pack that includes bi-xenon headlamps, sliding centre armrest console, leather seat trim, premium Bose 242 watt amplifier and 10 speakers including subwoofer.

Compared to the old and continuing two-litre MZR four-cylinder petrol engine/five-speed auto combination that powers the vast majority of the rest of the range, the SkyActiv-G is the most fuel-efficient two-litre petrol non-hybrid car on the market.

These gains have also come courtesy of a slight reduction in overall weight which make many of the drivetrain's ancillaries operate more efficiently and an idle-stop-start (istop) system has been added to cut consumption further.

On the road the SkyActiv is a strong and determined performer, the automatic transmission is just brilliant and Mazda engineers have done a wonderful job in sharpening responses and improving ride comfort.


Price: $29,990

Engine: 2-litre DOHC 16-valve in-line four-cylinder. Max power 113kW at 6000rpm. Max torque 194Nm at 4100rpm

Transmission: Six-speed manual mode automatic. Front wheel drive

Suspension: Front - MacPherson struts. Rear - independent multi-link

Brakes: Power-assisted four wheel discs. ABS, EBD, EBA, DSC, traction control

Steering: Electro-hydraulic rack and pinion

Turning circle: 10.9m

Wheelbase: 2640mm

Length: 4580mm

Width: 1755mm

Height: 1470mm

Weight: 1336kg

Fuel tank: 55 litres

Fuel consumption: 6.2L/100km combined

Towing capacity: 900kg braked

Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres

What you will pay at Wippells Autos:

Mazda3 SP20 SkyActiv sedan/hatch 

 $29,990 Driveaway

Mazda3 SP20 SkyActiv sedan/ hatch Luxury 

 $32,990 Driveaway

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