Japanese automaker Mazda’s approach has been to start with a clean sheet of paper … or blank computer screen, I suppose … and rethink every aspect of it vehicles. The results are just coming to market under the banner of “Skyactiv” technology. Apparently, Mazda even saved some weight, by leaving off the final ‘e.’ Skyactiv is Mazda’s way of saying its cars are lighter, but stronger; their conventional engines are smaller, but more powerful; the designs look more solid, yet carry a lower wind resistance.
I asked a Mazda engineer how they do all that, and he said, “Magic.” Whatever: the new Mazda 3 gets 40 mpg/highway; pretty spectacular, on a car that boasts 155 hp and enough sportiness to justify Mazda’s Zoom- Zoom philosophy. Especially when you consider the sticker price of $22k, loaded like a baked potato at Sizzler.