The 2012 Mazda3 5-door has a lower price. Photo courtesy of Mazda.

Mazda drops price on the popular Mazda3 for 2012

The ubiquitous Mazda3 has been responsible for 40 percent of Mazda sales thus far this year, and returns refreshed for 2012 with SKYACTIV technology resulting in higher efficiency and performance while still delivering a lower price than last year’s model.

"The Mazda3 is the core of the Mazda line-up and continues to be the standard by which all other compact cars are measured," said Jim O'Sullivan, president and CEO, MNAO. "Because of the importance of this critical vehicle to Mazda sales success, we chose to debut our revolutionary SKYACTIV technology in Mazda3, as well as bring the i SV model to market at a lower starting MSRP than the previous year."

The Mazda3 i SV sedan has a base price of $15,200, not including the $795 destination charge ($840 in Alaska), title, taxes, license, optional features and dealer charges.

The commuters styling has been updated with a revised front fascia and a distinctive five-point grille opening common to Mazda models. Within the Mazda3, new cloth seats and black appointments house intuitive controls and instrument panels.

Utilizing their dependable 148-horsepower MZR 2.0-liter engine, the Mazda3 i SV sedan is the first step in Mazda's performance-oriented, fuel-efficient sporty compacts. In the next level Mazda3 i Sport, the 2012 model adds remote keyless entry standard. The Mazda3 i Sport sedan starts at $16,845 with an available five-speed Sport automatic transmission at an additional charge. However, Mazda3 i SV and Sport trims don’t come with five-door models.

Mazda3 i Touring models swap out the MZR engine for the all-new SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter gas engine, EPA-rated at 40 mpg highway. Base price for the sedan model is $18,450. The SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter engine produces 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque – five percent more horsepower than the MZR 2.0-liter as well as 10 percent more peak torque, 15 percent more low to mid-range torque and as much as 21 percent better economy. Unlike segment competitors, the SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter is available in a variety of different trim levels.

This marks the first availability in the U.S. of the 5-door with a 2.0-liter engine, priced from $18,950 for the Mazda3 i Touring hatchback with SKYACTIV-G, boasting an EPA 39-mpg highway rating, notably the best-in-class for compact five-doors. All i Touring and Grand Touring models have available the all-new SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission or the all-new SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmission (at an additional $850).

The all-new Mazda3 i Grand Touring models are also available in both sedan and hatchback body styles. Mazda3 i Grand Touring models provide class-competitive fuel efficiency as well as upgraded standard features such as a power moonroof, power driver's seat, leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats, a Bose Centerpoint 10-speaker Surround Sound System with AudioPilot and a full-color navigation system with a multi-information display. Mazda3 i Grand Touring sedan models start at $22,300 with five-door models starting at $22,800.

Also standard on i Touring and Grand Touring models are 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped shifter and steering wheel plus a trip computer. A Moonroof and Bose Audio Package is available for i Touring models ($1,400) while a Technology Package featuring rain-sensing windshield wipers, self-levelingm auto-dimming bi-xenon headlights, Adaptive Front-lighting System, Sirius satellite radio and a perimeter alarm. A segment-exclusive Blind Spot Monitoring system is available for i Grand Touring models ($1,400).

Available in Touring and Grand Touring trims, Mazda3 s models come with the MZR 2.5-liter engine boasting 167 horsepower and 168 lb-ft of torque. Starting at $21,300 for the sedan and $21,800 for the hatchback, standard features for s models include 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, keyless entry with push-button start, a moonroof, a dual zone automatic climate control system and the Bose Centerpoint System with AudioPilot. Navigation now comes standard on all s Grand Touring models.

Equipped with an MZR 2.3-liter Direct Injection Spark Ignition engine, the top-of-the-line MAZDASPEED3 produces of 263 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. The vehicle starts at $24,000,equipped with 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels and the same infotainment setup. Other standard MAZDASPEED-only features include: sport-tuned exhaust, larger front brakes, sport-tuned independent front and rear suspension, a limited slip differential with the Mazda Advanced Torque Management System, larger front and rear stabilizer bars, distinctive red and black interior styling with mathcing leather-and-cloth seats, scuff plates, leather-wrapped shift knob as well as a unique front fascia, fenders and hood.

A MAZDASPEED3 Technology Package is the only option at $2,135, adding navigation, Blind Spot Monitoring, Adaptive Front-lighting System and self-leveling, auto-dimming bi-xenon headlights, Sirius satellite radio, perimeter alarm, rain-sensing windshield wipers and the Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry & Start System with push-button start are also included..