The Mazda3 enters its fourth iteration for 2019, like before, the Mazda3 is available as both a sedan and hatchback. Competitors include the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Subaru Impreza, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte. Pretty much everything on the Mazda3 has been completely redesigned for the 2019 model year. And for the first time, the Mazda3 has all-wheel drive available on both sedan and hatchback body styles, making it one of only two cars in the segment with such a feature. Standard features include 18-inch wheels, LED lighting, a power driver’s seat, leather seating and trim, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone climate control, an 8.8-inch infotainment system, Bose audio, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.
The 2019 Mazda3 really feels like an evolutionary leap forward from the old model the night-and day-difference between the old car and the new is immediately apparent after just a few miles of driving, ride quality is simply exceptional. The car has lots of grip and feels neutral in corners. The ride is firm, but it’s very smooth and well damped, lending a European luxury feel. The Mazda3’s steering is direct and progressive, with a hint of lightness to it that brings the Miata to mind and the suspension and seat combine to make the driver feel one with the car.
Its latest Skyactiv vehicle architecture is one piece of the puzzle; the new platform is both stiffer and lighter than before, and it uses technologies both old and new designed to help it ride and handle better than before. When it comes to fuel economy the front-wheel drive sedans will get 30 mpg in combined driving, as will the automatic-equipped front-drive hatch. The manual drops the hatch to 29 in combined driving. All-wheel drive brings fuel economy of the sedan down to 28 and the hatch down to 27.
For safety, all Mazda3 sedans (except for the base model) feature adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a crystal-clear, high-definition backup camera.
Inside the Mazda3 is the latest Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter I-4 with cylinder deactivation making 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque is shoehorned into the 2019 Mazda3 sedan and hatch. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual and is available with all-wheel drive. Mazda‘s impressive spark-compression-ignition Skyactiv-X engines will debut this year in Europe then followed by Japan. Mazda will slowly roll out Skyactiv-X engines globally with emission-strict markets getting priority.
Mazdas are typically a little louder on the inside, with more engine and tire noise leaking into the cabin than some of the competition. This Mazda 3 changes the game by adding in a new two-wall body structure and better sound absorption from the headliner and carpeting. The concerted effort has paid off, because the in-car experience is far more serene and peaceful than before. This plays into Mazda‘s move of taking the compact upscale.
The cabin’s new design is a significant improvement on the old, too. The loaded Premium model is certainly a convincing alternative to the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA. Mazda did its homework here—materials, from the leather seats to the knurled metal knobs and accents, are all top notch. Mazda’s attention to detail also shows in how those knobs and buttons feel when turned or pressed; all have a quality heft and feel to them. Premium models also get a head-up display with speed and navigation data.
Front accommodations are comfortable, with an excellent seating position and supportive seats. The Mazda3 offers satisfactory legroom and enough spots to stash important belongings. However the Mazda’s cabin is still tighter than most of its competitors especially for the passengers in the backseat.
Mazda also redesigned its 8.8-inch infotainment system for this car. A major change is that there is no touchscreen functionality whatsoever, which is also partly why Mazda has moved the infotainment screen farther up the dash and canted toward the driver’s line of sight. The entire menu layout has been revamped as well with options listed vertically instead of horizontally. The system runs substantially faster and smoother than the previous version. Mazda has also finally made Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard features. Combined with the simplified “Commander” control knob on the center console, the amount of time a driver needs to look away from the road is minimized.
Where the 3 falls short is in its options to charge phones. A single USB port resides on the center stack, while another USB and 12-volt socket are in the armrest compartment. Mazda does offer an optional $275 wireless charge pad (included in our test vehicle), but it still won’t help people in back who don’t have any outlets within easy reach.
The 2019 Mazda3 sedan starts at $21,920 wand the hatchback will start at $24,520. The Mazda3 Premium sits at the top of the lineup, starting at $27,420 for the sedan and $28,420 for the hatchback. All-wheel drive and manual transmissions (the latter a hatchback-only option) are expected to be available at launch.
The new 2019 Mazda3 captures the fun-to-drive spirit of the Mazda we know and love while delivering on the entry-level luxury experience that might actually give Audi A3 and Mercedes CLA buyers some pause.