SEATTLE — The Mazda3 is easily one of the best selling cars for Mazda and for good reason. It’s very competitively priced, looks great and offers a great deal of value, compared to the competition. This 2019 model year, brings about a stark design change from the outgoing model. We get it, it’s a tad polarizing.
Those huge B-pillars give it a bulkier, more masculine appearance, but also make massive blind spots.
Outside the Mazda3
Outside of a design overhaul, the 2019 Mazda3 also introduces its i-drive all-wheel-drive as an option. This makes a far more compelling alternative and a more direct aim at Subaru. First introduced in the 2013 CX-5, the i-Active all-wheel-drive system monitors everything from road conditions, wheel slippage, outside temperature and even the windshield speed to determine the best available traction output.
Mazda’s 2.5-liter with SkyActiv technology powers the 3 and its rated output is 186 horsepower with 186 lb-ft of torque. Mazda does offer a choice of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The EPA rates the fuel economy at 24 miles per gallon around town and up to 32 on the highway.
Inside the Mazda 3
Having tested Mazda’s competition, we can tell you that you’d be hard-pressed to find a more refined interior build quality and design. The extensive use of high-quality materials, fit and finish is nothing short of this side of a luxury car costing 3-4 times the 3’s price. The only disappointment is Mazda’s continued use of a mapping system that is likened to the graphics quality of a 90s video game.
Outside of that, it’s a very impressive cabin area that combines a sublime combination of form, function, and style.
There’s a whole host of driving aids as well, including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, parking assist and rear cross-traffic alert.
Those who enjoy good sounding audio will appreciate the multi-speaker Bose system. It offers excellent performance overall, however, it could highly benefit from a subwoofer.
It remains clear, even at maximum volume with little distortion and excellent fidelity. Its infotainment system comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Andriod Auto.
The front seats are very comfortable and supportive – even for a long road trip. The backseats are comfortable and have decent legroom as well. However, late teens and adults may have a more difficult time when driving long durations.
On a disappointment side of things, what is with only the driver’s seat being power adjustable? Why not do the same with the passenger seat?
On the road, the 2019 Mazda3 handles rather adeptly.
It’s nimble and has just enough power to get out of its own way. You’ll find that taking corners at higher rates of speed can be a thing of beauty. There’s very minimal body roll and the 3 remains rather flat around hard corners. Love it. Steering wheel feel is decent, however, we’d love for Mazda to employ a setting that gave it a more weighted feel.
The i-Drive system performed wonderfully with the inclement weather we get in the greater Seattle area. Gone are those front-end wheel spins from accelerating at a stoplight. It offers superb grip and with a good set of winter tires, would help you tackle all but the most impassable mountain passes.
Third times the charm for the Mazda3
There’s no question that the 2019 Mazda3 is the best 3 yet. But what is easily up for debate is are the exterior design changes Mazda has went with. Given the fact that there’s blind-spot monitoring, we’re okay with the larger b-pillars. Overall, I feel it’s one of the best hatchback values going. Mazda remains one of the few automakers to implement CVT transmissions and we highly applaud that.
Our Premium package test model came in at $31,335, including destination. The base price for the Premium model is $27,500 – so you can see how quickly things add up, once you start optioning it out.
In the end, this car is my favorite hatchback in its price range. Mazda has done a great job of delivering a lot of value when you contrast it to the competition. If you’re in the market for a fun car with the need for a hatchback design, then book a test drive of the 2019 Mazda3. You won’t be disappointed.