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Look ma, no hybrids - Metro US

Look ma, no hybrids

You want fuel efficiency, but you don’t want your style cramped. Yes, there’s a fine line between the two and there are several new 2012 cars that walk it with style, but not as many as you might think despite all the new offerings in an ever-expanding segment.

But the new-for-2012 cars featured here break the 5.0 l/100 km barrier on the highway, without any fancy hybrid technology such as electric motors; they’re just normal cars.

Chevrolet Sonic

The Sonic replaces the Korea-built Aveo that has been around since the 2004 model year. Like the Aveo, the Sonic is offered in both sedan and mini-wagon formats. Since these cars are constructed at GM’s Orion, Mich., plant and not in Korea, however, there’s plenty of North American style built into the Sonic.

Under the hood is a 138-horsepower 1.8-litre four-cylinder, or optional 138-horsepower 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit that pulls down the best fuel economy (5.1 l/100 km on the highway).

A five-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic comes with the 1.8, while the turbo is exclusively matched to a six-speed manual. Although the base price is only about $14,500 plus destination charges, the most fuel-efficient model will set you back more than $20,000 with delivery charges to the dealership.

Hyundai Accent

The 2012 Accent is available in four-door sedan and hatchback formats and appears to be yet another game-changing model for Hyundai. Both the wagon and the hatchback share the same platform that extends the distance between the front and rear wheels by about 7.5 centimetres over the previous model, which is important real estate for maxing out both leg and knee room.

The Accent’s 1.6-litre engine produces 138 horsepower, up from 110.

Going with the automatic transmission gets you the best highway fuel-economy rating of 4.8 l/100 km (4.9 for the manual).

The best part is that to break the 5.0 l/100 km mark costs just $13,200 plus destination charges.

Mazda3 Skyactiv

The look is a bit different, but the real news is the 2.0-litre four-cylinder that uses Mazda’s new “Skyactiv” direct-gasoline-injection technology to boost both power and efficiency.

Compared to the old 2.0-litre (which carries over in base models) the Skyactiv has 155 horsepower (versus 148) and 148 pound-feet of torque (versus 135).

It also wins in fuel economy too, netting 7.1/5.0 l/100 km (city/highway) with the available six-speed automatic transmission, or 7.6/5.1 with manual. Very impressive. But Skyactiv is really more than just a powertrain upgrade as the philosophy extends to lowering weight, improving chassis stiffness and steering response.

Only the Skyactiv Mazda3 is upgraded in such a manner.

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