2019 Mazda 3 Sedan Review


Intro
Mazda's Kodo design language has enjoyed many years of success, however, in the ever revolving world of automotive industry, you have to evolve or face elimination. The Mazda 3 has been the trail blazer and the best seller for the brand ever since its debut in 2004. It is no wonder Mazda chooses the 3 to showcase its next generation of design directions.

I have always loved the Mazda 3 for its handsome look, excellent handing, and premium interior. Does the 2019 Mazda 3 live up to that high expectation? Thanks to Mazda Canada, I was loaned the 2019 Mazda 3 Sedan GT for a week to find out. Below is my unbiased review.



Exterior
I don't know how the designers at Mazda do it, but they have consistently delivered almost art-like exteriors for their reasonably priced cars. The new Mazda 3 is breathtaking to look at. It looks sleek, elegant, and almost futuristic from certain angles. The use of slender head and tail lights gives the 3 an European look. The low, wide stance makes the car look poised and well proportioned. Smoothly transitioned surfaces play with light and reflections for a sophisticated look that you expect to see in a museum, not on the street. This iteration of the Kodo design language shows more class and maturity, but looks less aggressive.

















Interior
The same artful design ethos transpire in the cabin as well. The minimalist design gives the Mazda 3 a simple yet premium interior. The attention to details sets the interior of the Mazda 3 apart from its rivals and moving it into the sphere of luxury vehicles.

You can tell that the cockpit is driver orientated. The armrest has been moved forward, so is the shifter and the control dial. It provides a more natural resting position for the driver's arm. The trade off is that the cup holders are now positioned in front of the shifter. It can be difficult to reach items stored in the front compartment when there is a drink in the cup holder.

The 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat takes driving comfort to the next level. Mazda engineers designed the driver's seat for an optimal pelvis position. They believe it is the foundation of how the driver is connected to the car. The result clearly showed during our test drive. The driver's seat felt exceptionally balanced, and I would have no problem taking the car on long drives.

The passenger seat is also very comfortable, but lacks height adjustment. Rear passengers benefit from softly padded and carved in front setbacks. The seats are comfortable, but the legroom remains snug for taller passengers.










Infotainment
The newly introduced infotainment system is centered around the 8.8" display located in the middle of the dashboard. Rather than sticking out like a tablet, the display in the Mazda 3 is styled to blend in with the rest of the front dash.

Mazda has decided to do away with utilizing a touch screen. The only way to interact with the display is by using the knobs and buttons on the center console and steering wheel. While that is fine for controlling Mazda's own software interface, using the system with the now standard Apple Carplay and Android Auto can be tedious. Mazda's own infotainment system is much more responsive than the previous generation. Navigation is straightforward, and should take a new driver no more than half a day to get used to the system.

The digital information display in the instrument cluster is styled to mimic an analog dial. Two configurable bars on each side of the dial show instant fuel economy and fuel level. Interestingly the digital fuel gauge and the analog fuel gauge don't agree with each other.

Standard Mazda 3 comes with an 8-speaker audio system, while our tester comes with a 12-speaker Bose sound system that sounds fantastic. Mazda engineers spent considerable energy in soundproofing the new Mazda 3, the quiet interior compliments the premium audio system nicely.





Safety and Driver Assistance
Mazda has included the following standard safety features:
  • Rear-view camera
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • Hill Launch Assist
GS and GT trim also get:
  • Auto Headlights
  • Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Driver Attention Alert
  • High Beam Control
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go
  • Smart Brake Support
It earns Top Safety Pick rating from IIHS.


Driving
The 2019 Mazda 3 is powered by either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder Skyactiv-G engine that produces 150 hp of horsepower and 186 lb.ft. of torque or a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Skyactiv-G engine that produces 186 hp of horsepower and 186 lb.ft. of torque. A 6 speed manual transmission is available for the GX and GS FWD versions, the rest uses a 6 speed automatic transmission.

The i-ACTIV AWD is now available for GS and GT. The 2.5-liter engine in our GT tester feels peppy and responsive, especially in Sport mode. However, I do wish that there is a higher power version of the Mazda 3 to compliment its excellent handling.

Speaking of handling, Mazda engineers has made an interesting choice of adapting a newly developed torsion beam instead of multi-link independent suspension in the rear. They believe the new torsion beam suspension provides a more predictable driving behavior, and requires less tuning. It would also reduce cost and increase cargo space.

On the road, I can't really tell the difference. The new Mazda 3 tackles corners with the same ease and composure as its predecessor. G-Vectoring Control Plus vehicle dynamic enhancements is standard on all Mazda 3 vehicles. It modulates both engine torque and brakes to manipulate the weight distribution of the car in and out of the corners. The result is a more predictable and composed turning experience.

Our 2.5L 6-speed automatic AWD tester is rated at 9.2L/100km city and 7.0L/100km highway. Our mostly city test drive returns a 9.3L/100km fuel economy rating.





Cargo Space & Storage
There is 374L of cargo space behind rear seats and 940L of storage space with the seats folded. It is slightly larger than the 2018 model, but still on the smaller side.

In cabin storage spaces has been increased. The glove box is larger than the previous generation, so is the storage bin in the center console. There is a small storage tray on the left side of the steering wheel, and the door pockets also seem bigger.






Verdict
The re-designed 2019 Mazda 3 remains a very lovable car. The biggest upgrades are to the exterior and interior design. It is clear that Mazda is trying to elevate its brand image closer to that of a luxury brand. The 2019 Mazda 3 certainly looks like an expensive car from the outside, and the premium interior can almost fool you into thinking that you are in an European luxury car. However, I do think that it is somewhat of a missed opportunity to not include a more powerful engine with this pretty package. The car remains fun to drive, and handles exceptionally. But without the raw power to backup the performance, it would be hard to convince people that this is truly a luxury vehicle.

The new Mazda 3 is slightly more expansive than some of its rivals, I would consider the upgrades to be well worth the price differences. With a more potent power train, Mazda might even be able to make that price gap bigger.

Test Vehicle
2019 MAZDA 3 Sedan GT
MSRP
$28,020 CAD without Destination
Color
Machine Grey Metallic

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