All-new 2019 Mazda 3 continues to be the anti-boring commuter car
Ever since it came out in 2003, the Mazda 3 has always been on my favorite list. Sporty-looking, practical, fun-to-drive and inexpensive, the Mazda 3 hits all the high notes for what is needed to be a great car. For 2019, Mazda has totally redesigned the 3 – and recently I was given the opportunity to use one for a week to see if this new 3 will continue to be a favorite of mine.
As it has always been, the Mazda 3 is available in both hatchback and sedan body styles, the latter being what I was assigned. While I have always preferred the hatchback, with the new 3, I must admit, the sedan now looks just as good, if not better than the hatchback. The one advantage the hatchback holds is that it is the only body style that gets either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic; sedans are limited to the automatic only. While even though most hatchback buyers will opt for the automatic transmission, I applaud Mazda for still allowing buyers the option of manual on the 3.
The transmission is hooked up to Mazda’s 2.5liter Skyactiv four-cylinder – which is a carryover from last year. Power is rated at 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. The smaller 2.0 liter four-cylinder is no-more. The EPA rates the 3 at 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.
One of the things that always made the 3 such a great car is its interior – and this new one continues that trend. An intuitive, driver-oriented dashboard and console not only makes the 3 feel very sporty, but places all the controls within easy reach and are simple to use. And it’s all done in a clean, uncluttered fashion, which adds a sense of elegance to the cabin. In traditional Mazda fashion, the volume knob and all other radio controls continue to be mounted on the center console area between the seats – where your hand naturally falls on them without having to reach. My tester was equipped with Mazda’s Commander dial-button control interface. While at first it may look like a version of BMW’s iDrive, it’s far easier to use – and reminds me a lot like Audi’s MMI interface. Included in the Premium Package, which the tester also had, was an impressive heads-up display. Not only does it show you how fast you’re traveling, but when a vehicle is in your blind spot, it will show up in the heads up display as well. Impressive stuff that you rarely see in other cars, regardless of their price range.
When it comes to comfort, the 3 provides plenty of space both upfront and in the back seat – and with some of the nicest seats in the business, the cabin of the Mazda 3 a very pleasant place to be. Compared to the old 3, the new 3 has an additional inch in wheelbase, providing better rear-seat room than the outgoing model.
But my favorite feature of the Mazda 3 has always been how enjoyable it is to drive. The engine is responsive, smooth and fairly quiet. And the 3 handles extremely well with precise steering and a firm – but not jarring – suspension, making it a real joy to take into turns. While 186hp may not sound like much power to play with, it’s plenty for the 3, as it feels quick on its feet.
Being a compact car, the 3 has always faced some stiff competition especially with the likes of the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus. All of them make for great commuter cars, but with the 3 there is something that just makes it more fun than the others. Maybe it’s that zoom-zoom factor that Mazda injects into their vehicles.
Whatever it is, the new Mazda 3 still has it – meaning it’s still one of my favorites.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2019 Mazda 3 with Premium Package
Base Price: $27,900.00
Price as Tested:$30,930.00
Layout: front-engine / front-wheel drive
Engine: Skyactiv 2.5 liter 4-cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Horsepower: 184 hp
Torque: 185 ft/lb
EPA Fuel Economy: 25 city / 33 highway mpg
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