Mazda3 AWD Premium Sedan
If you asked for some
fruit and I handed you a cucumber, youíd probably be unhappy.
While itís technically a fruit, itís considered a vegetable by
In case you didnít
notice, many things are not always what they seem. Dresden china
comes from Meissen, not Dresden. A guinea pig is not a pig from
guinea; it's a South African rodent. Turkish baths originated in
Rome, not Turkey. And the redesigned 2019 Mazda3 sedan and hatchback
are not luxury cars, but Mazda would like you to think that they
That said, you could
easily mistake them for higher priced merchandise, as they exude a
sophisticated, well-honed ťlan that expresses an attitude well
above their station. Itís a refreshing change for this segment of
the market, where some Asian competitorsí designs wear faces that
resembles a kabuki mask. While Mazdaís sedan and hatchback boast a
far more pleasing expression, each one wears dramatically different
attire. Although they sport the same face, the hatchback is
positioned as the more upscale model, with a price that starts
$2,600 higher than the sedan despite being 7.9 inches shorter in
To accentuate its
uniqueness, the Mazda3 Hatchback is peculiarly styled behind its
rear door, with a shape and angle thatís idiosyncratic, but not
necessarily attractive. It could be argued that its
thought-provoking form lends it an upscale personality. Certainly it
does that. But whether that will drive consumers to buy it is
another matter. By contrast, the sedan is far more conventional in
appearance, with a flowing belt line and up-to-date looks that will
shock no one. But both vehicles have a fluidity to their sheet metal
that could be mistaken for something pricier, a feeling thatís
certainly true once you climb inside, for its here where Mazda has
spent money, and it shows.
Credit should go to
its two-tone interior, where please ecru accents offset the mostly
black cabin. Soft touch accents abound in all the right places,
including an instrument panel wrapped in a pleasing leather-like
As with the best new
vehicles, a large color 8.8-inch screen sits atop of the instrument
panel, where itís easy to see while driving. A round controller
knob flanked by shortcut buttons control it. Apple CarPlay and
Android Auto are standard on the hatchback and available on higher
sedan trim levels. Bluetooth is standard. A Bose premium 12-speaker
audio system with aluminum speaker grilles is optional.
The new infotainment
screen is a huge improvement, but the user interface takes far too
many steps to accomplish something simple, like changing a radio
station from one to another. And, sadly, the interior has other
ergonomic issues. The cup holders are placed far forward in the
center console, just under the instrument panel, which limits the
height of the cup or thermos you can place in it. And while I
applaud Mazda for fitting the Mazda3 with a wireless mobile phone
charger, itís located in the center bottom of the console bin. The
rubber mat helps prevent your phone from sliding around, but the
using the pad means moving or removing everything stored in the bin.
Who thought this was a good design?
Quibbles aside, the
front seats are comfortably supportive, and thereís generous head
and legroom. The same canít be said of the sedanís rear seat,
where legroom is miserly at best. There was no chance to sample the
Hatchback, but one would suppose itís better to fold down the rear
seats than sit in them. If Mazda is serious about being a player in
this segment, they need to provide more space than is offered here.
compact sedan with premium aspirations is a new architecture that
speaks to this carís true mission as affordable transportation.
The same Skyactiv-G
2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic or
manual transmission powers all 2019 Mazda3s. Rated to deliver 186
horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 186 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm,
front-wheel drive is standard, although all-wheel drive is optional.
Last yearís fully independent suspension has been replaced by
MacPherson front struts up front and a twist beam in the rear. If
this sounds somewhat less than premium, keep in mind this carís
price point, which starts at $21,000.
underway, youíll find the Mazda3ís ride and handling lives up to
its aspirations. The sedan delights the driver with a lively
demeanor, feeling light on its feet, with quick steering that dials
back the assist just enough to make things interesting. Bump
absorption is very good, and the cabin remains quiet over all but
the roughest road surfaces. Cornering behavior is about what youíd
expect, with body lean coming on in extreme maneuvers. Acceleration
is fairly good, but far from the overwhelming thrust that would get
your blood boiling.
Aiding and abetting
the driver are any number of driver-assistance aids, leather seats,
seat heating and a head-up display.
decidedly old fashioned bits, such as its six-speed automatic
transmission and twist beam rear axle, the Mazda3 can lull you into
believing youíre driving something nicer, even though itís not
caviar on a beer budget.
But it is a very
affable small car, one with far more presence than youíd expect
for the price.
2019 Mazda3 AWD
Base price: $27,900
2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder
186/186 pound-feet @4,000 RPM
EPA fuel economy
(city/highway): 25/33 mpg
Cargo capacity: 13.2
Curb weight: 3,248