The Mazda3 is considered the enthusiast’s choice for a compact car. It was always designed to engage with drivers, especially the last generation. That model added a sharp design, a driver-focused cabin, and great road manners.
However, Mazda went back to the drawing board for the new 2019 Mazda3. They not only pushed the envelope in design, driving dynamics, and interior design – Mazda also positioned their new compact car for the move upmarket.
We had the chance to drive the new 2019 Mazda3 to find out whether it is still the enthusiast’s compact car, but whether it is worthy of playing in a higher market.
From first glimpse, the Mazda3’s design has been enhanced further from the previous model. This second-generation KODO design is more three-dimensional with massaged details, such as new taillights and a sleeker roofline for the sedan, along with a curvaceous rear end for the hatchback.
Our sedan tester turned out to be handsomest of the two body styles, befitting of Mazda’s ambitions upmarket. Every line and detail points to superb execution. The low roofline may hamper some exits for tall people, but one could give Mazda a pass for creating an upscale look for a car that attract enthusiasts.
Once inside, you can see the progression of the Mazda3’s transition between generations. The instrument binnacle now features two analog dials flanking a digital dial for the speedometer and information screen. The steering wheel is new with modified controls for audio and cruise control features. The infotainment screen is larger with a new interface controlled by the Mazda Connect knob on the center console. Between the steering wheel and knob controls, we found some issues with matching control to function. In particular, switching between favorite radio stations and going through the screens were a bit of a challenge. This is not exactly an issue just on this Mazda, but even its competitors have more complicated controls for its infotainment screens.
The front seats offer plenty of bolstering and support, even though they fall on the firm side. Our Premium package sedan tester wore white perforated leather that is luxurious and sporty at the same time. Rear seat room is best enjoyed with the Mazda3 loaded with four average-sized adults. Our sedan had 13.2 cubic feet of trunk space, expandable with the rear seats folded down. If you are interested in the hatchback, you will have 20.1 cubic feet to play with behind the rear seats.
Powering the new Mazda3 is the 186-horsepower Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. This makes the Mazda3 a sprightly and quick compact car. Our tester came with a six-speed automatic transmission connected to an all-wheel-drive system – the first time in this model since the Mazdaspeed3 of several years ago. In this new Mazda3, this system is designed to enhance year-round traction rather than enhanced performance. With this driveline, the Mazda3 should return an average of 25 MPG in the city and 33 MPG on the highway.
It is safe to say that enthusiasts will love the Mazda3’s sportier driving dynamics. Though the ride is solid but on the firm side, its handling is superb. The steering is sharp with excellent on-center feel and a tight turning radius. Control through the curves is sensational. The brakes are equally good. Pedal feel is solid and stopping power is sharp.
When picking the Premium package, there are plenty of driver assist technologies that come with it. For example, the Active Driving Display adds the ability for the driver to monitor his vehicle by keeping their eyes on the road. Other technologies included in this package are Lane Keep Assist, Smart Brake Support, Radar Cruise Control, and Driver Attention Alert.
The entire Mazda3 lineup starts with a base price of $21,000 for the sedan, $23,600 for the hatchback. Our tester with the Premium package came with a sticker price of $31,055.
Though Mazda is looking to move upmarket, the Mazda3 is still compared with its mainstream compact rivals. Those competitors include the Volkswagen Jetta, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, and Subaru Impreza. However, the Mazda3 is also looking to compete with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Acura ILX, MINI 4-door Hardtop, and Audi A3.
This is a car that will excite the senses. Enthusiasts understand this kind of language and are driven by the want of the 2019 Mazda3. However, everyday consumers looking for a compact car should take a very good look at this newest Mazda3. All they have to do is to talk an enthusiast about one.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors