Mazda must be dabbling in black magic.
How else can you explain the fact that this relatively small Japanese company is doing what no one else in the car industry seems to have figured out? They’re building cars that get amazing gas mileage and are exhilarating to drive at the same time.
Doing one or the other is easy. If you cram a giant engine into a little car, you’ll get people’s hearts racing. And on the flip side, you can put a puny engine into a tin-can car and get good gas mileage.
But what Mazda has done with this car, the all-new Mazda3, is remarkable.
First of all, it’s rated for 41 mpg on the highway. To put that in perspective, it’s the exact same mileage figure as the first-generation Toyota Prius hybrid, which set the standard for hyper-efficient cars when it was introduced.
Unlike many fuel-saving cars, though, the Mazda3 doesn’t feel like a dinky, hamster-powered contraption. It feels quick and nimble, matching the breathtakingly fun feeling that I loved in the previous generation 3.
I’m not quite sure how Mazda managed to do that. Mazda’s Department of Marketing Mumbo Jumbo came up with the term “SKYACTIV” to describe how the engine, transmission, body and chassis work together to boost performance and gas mileage, but black magic still makes more sense to me.
Whatever the root cause, this is one of my favorite small cars to drive in a long time. And it’s for reasons that go much deeper than gas mileage.
From the driver’s seat, this new design feels like one of the fastest, most fun compact cars you can buy. It doesn’t drive at all like a car that’s designed for good gas mileage, strangely enough.
I love the new look Mazda gives this car for 2014. It gets a long, sports-car-like hood, swept-back headlights and a sleek, expensive-looking overall shape. I think it looks like a smaller, sportier version of the pricey Lexus RX 350 that I tested last week.
Inside, this is one of the best cabins I’ve ever seen in a compact car. It has soft materials on the dash, tight construction, and — at least in my test car — all the bells and whistles you could possibly imagine being in a commuter vehicle: automatic headlights, a heads-up display, lane departure warning, dual-zone climate control, push-button start, blind-spot sensors, a navigation system and lots more.
On the downside, all those extras added a lot to the price of my test car. It rang up over $29,000, which — to me, at least — seems like an awful lot of money for a Mazda compact car. The base version of this car, starting under $17,000, makes more sense for most people.
As a whole, though, this is one of the most impressive small cars I’ve driven in years. Even at the end of its lifespan, the previous generation Mazda3 was one of my favorites, and this new version raises the bar even higher.
It’s kept the lovable, fun-to-drive spirit of the Mazda3 while adding better gas mileage for today’s world. If Mazda had to stick pins into Honda and Toyota voodoo dolls to do that, so be it.
Mazda must be dabbling in black magic.
Central community learns about water conservation
Edmond residents know about rain that falls from their roofs after a storm. Some may not know what kind of important role it plays in the nation’s water supply.
Tim Tillman, the University of Central Oklahoma’s sustainability coordinator, said UCO has a tradition of innovation in sustainable practices. Tillman said Earth Day, first brought to the campus more than 20 years ago, began that tradition.
During Tuesday’s Earth Day Fair, Jason Summers, a Coca-Cola account manager for on-premise sales, was giving away rain barrels and educating members of the Central Oklahoma community about the benefits of rain barrels.
Energy secretary touts CNG fleet conversion
Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague said the state is leading the way in converting its fleet of vehicles to run on compressed natural gas.
And, he adds, the state is working to get federal officials engaged in moving its fleet of vehicles in Oklahoma to use CNG.
Teague made those statements Tuesday during a visit to Champion CNG, 13915 N. Harvey Ave. in Edmond. The visit also coincided with Earth Day.
Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?
The paper looked at how many delicious steamed sliders the minimum wage has been able to purchase over time. The point is that as it notes, in 1981, the $3.35 minimum could buy a whole dozen. Today, at $7.25, it could purchase just 10.
Amber waves turning gray as farms lose younger generation
Jerry Pfeiffer was thrilled when his 25-year-old son Kelsey announced plans to return to the family’s farm in Orlando.
Jolley says Oklahoma common sense needed in Congress
The conservative values that persuaded voters to elect state Sen. Clark Jolley to the state Legislature 10 years ago have not changed, he said. Jolley will bring the same values to Washington, D.C., if voters elect him to the Congressional 5th District, he said.
More people today are moving to Oklahoma from Texas than vice versa, Jolley said. State government is solving problems, he added. So what the federal government needs is a lot of Oklahoma common sense solutions, said Jolley, R-Edmond.
Edmond up 15 percent in sales tax revenue
City sales tax receipts for April continued a positive with an increase of 6.03 percent over the same period two years ago, City Manager Larry Stevens said last week.
The amount received in April 2014 represents sales tax collections from the last half of the month of February and the first half of March according to the office of City Finance Director Ross VanderHamm.
Smartphone kill switches are coming
Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!
Biggest student loan profits come from grad students
This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.
Kaiser joins Thunder ownership group
Tulsa businessman George B. Kaiser has been approved by the NBA Board of Governors as a new partner in The Professional Basketball Club LLC, which owns the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thunder Chairman and CEO Clayton I. Bennett made the announcement Friday. Kaiser is purchasing the ownership interest of Tom L. Ward.
“We are honored to welcome George Kaiser as a member of the ownership group of the Oklahoma City Thunder,” Bennett said. “George is a well-respected and important Oklahoma business leader, as well as one of the state and nation’s top philanthropists. His commitment to successful business and community leadership is in true alignment with that of the Thunder.
“I also appreciate the commitment and leadership provided by Tom Ward as a member of our ownership group from the beginning,” Bennett added.
Food Bank’s Leadership Council applications now available
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma invites young professionals to submit applications for the nonprofit’s first-ever Leadership Council. The Leadership Council connects young professionals interested in getting involved in their community and state through engagement with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. These dedicated individuals, aged 24 to 35, will volunteer their time and creativity to raise awareness about the issue of hunger and increase the visibility of the Regional Food Bank and its mission of “Fighting Hunger … Feeding Hope” in Oklahoma.
- More Business Headlines
- Central community learns about water conservation