It’s not an exaggeration to say the 2019 Mazda3 has changed the compact car landscape. This model year represents the start of a new generation and the amount of detail put into it is on level with luxury cars.
The front seats have been developed by studying human anatomy and psychology, the placement of each audio system speaker has been analyzed and optimized, the suspension re-engineered, the body shell is stiffer than before, cabin illumination was studied to make sure it isn’t distracting at night, and the wipers have washer jets built in, which is the kind of thing Mercedes-Benz does.
Both the exterior and interior designs are distinctive yet subtle and arguably pleasing to the eye, right down to how the outer surfaces reflect light. Mazda really has a way with styling that’s sorely lacking in other Japanese companies. The quality of the cabin materials is also higher or at least as high as the best of its rivals.
What’s New for 2019?
This is a completely new generation making its debut, so virtually everything is new, although the engine has been carried over. See the 2019 Mazda3 models for sale near you
What We Like
- Premium driving experience
- Premium feel
- Agreeable styling
What We Don’t
- Can get pricey (a fully loaded hatchback version is close to $30,000)
- Not convinced whether the Bose audio upgrade is worth the money
$21,895 to $24,495
The new Mazda3 uses a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder unit developing 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard. Although many manufacturers are adding more gears to their transmissions, Mazda has said that it finds six well-chosen ratios to be an optimum arrangement. A 6-speed manual transmission is optional in the hatchback version.
With FWD and the automatic transmission, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the Mazda3 sedan’s fuel consumption at 26 miles per gallon in the city, 35 mpg on the highway and 30 mpg in combined driving. A Premium options package for the sedan includes cylinder deactivation, resulting in 27 mpg city/36 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined. With AWD, we’re looking at 25 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/28 mpg combined (automatic).
The Mazda3 hatchback also achieves 26 mpg city/35 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined in FWD automatic form. With AWD and the automatic transmission, it manages 24 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined. And the front-drive variant with the manual transmission runs to 25 mpg city/35 mpg hwy/29 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 Mazda3 5-seater compact car is available in sedan and hatchback forms.
The Mazda3 sedan ($21,895) comes with 16-in alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, keyless entry and ignition, cloth upholstery, an 8.8-in infotainment display, a 7-in configurable driver information display, split/folding (60/40) rear seats, Bluetooth phone and audio, an HD radio, two USB ports and an 8-speaker sound system.
The Mazda3 hatchback ($24,495) has more standard equipment to justify its higher price, such as 18-in alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual-zone automatic climate control, simulated leather seating surfaces, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision mitigation, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, driver attention monitoring, and automatic high beams.
Most of these additional features are available as options in the sedan. Other extras include AWD, a head-up display, leather upholstery, a power moonroof, adaptive LED headlights, power-adjustable/heated front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, and a 12-speaker Bose audio system.
Trunk space for the sedan is 13.2 cu ft., about average for the class. The hatchback has 20.1 cu ft. of luggage area behind the rear seats, expanding to 47.1 cu ft. when those seats are folded down.
At the time of compiling this review, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has put the new Mazda3 through any crash test programs. However, all the mandatory protection features like airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction/stability control and a rearview camera are set into a body that uses more high-strength steel than the previous generation. And there are advanced driver aids available as well.
Behind the Wheel
All the research and development Mazda has carried out brings benefits to so many areas of the driving experience. The cabin is hushed, the ride is smooth, the ergonomics have been well thought out, and the front seats in particular are suitable for hours on end.
Responses to steering and braking inputs are quick but never skittish, bringing just the right amount of feedback to make drivers feel confident. There’s a real pleasure to driving the Mazda3. It has the rare ability to appeal to comfort-seeking commuters and enthusiasts alike.
The AWD version doesn’t have any extra ground clearance, but it brings reassurance in slippery conditions. The AWD system always sends a little power to the rear wheels so that when more is required, the reaction times are as fast as possible.
G-Vectoring Control (GVC) is an ingenious system that’s standard in both FWD and AWD versions. Instead of the increasingly common torque vectoring (sending power to some wheels to make cornering more effective) or its brake-based simulation (slowing down other wheels to achieve the same outcome), GVC reduces power slightly when turning in to a corner, shifting the weight to the front wheels.
At the exit, it will apply the brakes to whatever wheel is necessary. Mazda’s engineers think this is a less artificial-feeling solution and we’re inclined to agree. Cornering lines are certainly tight and tidy.
Engine output is pretty good rather than great. If there was a more powerful turbocharged version, it could bolster the Mazda3’s standing as a legitimate rival to entry level luxury cars like the Audi A3.
The only question mark is the one thing not built by Mazda. It’s the Bose audio upgrade. Both companies collaborated to create the ideal system for the new Mazda3, but on some of the more modern music we heard, the bass end seemed unnatural and over-compressed, while the vocal sound was slightly muffled. Maybe it takes some sitting down and adjusting all the frequencies and speaker balances to get the most out of it. But listen with a critical ear before taking this particular plunge.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Honda Civic — Multitalented and offering a wide range of choices. One of the top players in the compact car category.
2019 Hyundai Elantra/GT — High equipment levels for the price, comfortable, great warranty. Not so inspiring 2.0-liter engine. Updated for 2019.
2019 Subaru Impreza — One of the few compact cars to have AWD and it’s standard. Low-power engine and droning continuously variable transmission not a combination to relish.
2019 Toyota Corolla — Reliable, well equipped, cheap to run. A new generation debuts for the 2020 model year.
2019 Volkswagen Golf — Hatchback only, but spacious and refined. Another top contender.
We highly recommend the new Mazda3. Each potential buyer will decide on whether the sedan or hatchback is preferable and if all-wheel drive is necessary. If choosing the sedan, stretch to the driver-assistance features. Find a Mazda3 for sale