Entry price: $23,600
Price as tested: $30,135
This week, we’re driving the new 2019 Mazda3 Hatchback, delivered in front-drive mode with a six-speed manual transmission. Featuring a very sporty appearance thanks to a $200 extra pearl paint option, this compact class Mazda offers low pricing entry points that are sure to attract buyers from all demographic age groups.
Luckily, the new fourth generation Mazda3 design doesn’t sway too much from the former Mazda3 motif we enjoyed so much. Up front notables for ’19 are more standard safety items across the board, better “non-touch” infotainment system and the introduction of an all-wheel-drive (AWD) Mazda3, the latter something that is rarely seen in the compact class.
Available in three distinct trims, Mazda3 Hatchback starts at the entry model’s $23,600, then moves up to Preferred at $25,200 and then top line Premium at $27,500. The AWD Mazda3 adds just $1,400 more to these prices, which is good news for consumers who live in snowy geographic locations. The “3” Sedan models also offer AWD in Select and Preferred models.
Thus, the major Mazda3 choices are whittled down to how many amenities a consumer desires, whether they want four or five doors (sedan/hatchback) and how many drive wheels they desire for traction. It may sound elementary, but Mazda makes these choices easy by offering three choices of the new hatchback instead of confusing consumers with 10 or more trims to choose from. The entry level Mazda 3 Sedan starts at just $21,000, while it takes another $2,600 to get into the Hatchback.
Mazda’s Skyactiv philosophy is also noteworthy as engineers mate the suspension, engine, gearbox and all other mechanicals to deliver the ride, economy and performance expected when you lay money down for a Mazda. Involved in racing since 1968, Mazda competes in everything from lower class road racing to its present upper-crust, highly competitive (and winning) Mazda prototype race cars, the latter taking on the much bigger corporate manufacturer efforts. Potential customers are assured that what Mazda learns on the speedways it delivers on the showroom floor ala safer, high-tech, reliable, fun-to-drive vehicles.
New for 2019 finds all “3” models offering just one engine instead of two as the former 2.0-liter four-cylinder is discontinued. Mazda3 now relies on its peppy 13-to-1 compression, 2.5-liter four-cylinder that pumps out 186 horses and 186 lb. ft. of torque. The former 2.0 delivered just 155 horses, so you’ll surely appreciate the extra 31 ponies when passing or merging onto the freeway.
Fuel economy is good as Mazda3 delivers 25 city and 35 highway with the six-speed manual, the latter only available on top line Premium. If you choose the automatic at no extra cost, the EPA pretty much stays the same at 26 and 35, respectively.
Outwardly, Mazda3 for 2019 is a great looking five-door hatchback. Designers did a fine job enhancing the “3” thanks to an exterior that features smooth aero lines, sporty front headlights, new fascia and an impressive rear hatch design. Inside, Hatchback Premium features standard amenity items including power moonroof, active driving windshield display, sporty instrument cluster, push button start, heated leather sport seats, dual-zone climate control, six-way power driver seat, and improved Bose 12-speaker stereo HD stereo.
Drivers of the Premium models will enjoy great road handling thanks to 18-inch Toyo Proxes tires on dark alloy wheels. Not surprisingly, all Mazda3 trims respond well on tight and twisty roads as the independent suspension helps grip as does large ABS anti-lock disc brakes, traction and stability control and front and rear stabilizers.
Standard on all Mazda3 trims are Apple/Android compatibility, all the airbags, rear safety camera, rear cross traffic alert, Bluetooth, stability control, lane keep assist, vehicle dynamics G-vectoring control, blind spot monitoring and emergency braking assist. Make sure to ask your dealer about the driver attention alert system as this high-tech safety item allows Mazda3 to know when a driver is getting tired! (Yes, really!) Although not yet tested, expect 5-Star government crash ratings.
Our top line Premium also comes standard with smart radar cruise control, SiriusXM, special gloss black grille and matching rear bumper, rear spoiler, Media Connect 6.8-inch display, and much more.
The infotainment system took a while to get accustomed to, but with the high tech advancements these days, learning curves are expected. I did not like the electronic emergency brake, however, as I still prefer a trusty pull-lever system for manual control.
Options on our Mazda3 include illuminated door sills for $425; $90 cargo mat; $275 frameless auto dim mirror; $450 navigation with SD card; and $275 wireless charging pad. With $920 delivery and earlier mentioned pearl paint, the final tally came in at $30,135. (None of these options are necessary).
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 107.3-inches, 3,022-lb. curb weight, 13.2-gallon fuel tank, generous 20.1 cu. ft. of cargo space, 37.3-foot turn circle and 5.5-inch ground clearance.
Mazda did a great job with its new generation 2019 Mazda3. I expect sales to continue to rise as over 5 million have been sold worldwide since its 2004 introduction. Check your dealer for current incentives and lease offers, and I recommend driving the entry Mazda3 first, then moving up accordingly. It’s one of the very best compacts out there.
Likes: All-new generation, exterior and interior, Skyactiv ideology, pricing.
Dislikes: Electronic parking brake, some road noise, where’s the turbo?
Greg Zyla writes weekly on cars for More Content Now and GateHouse Media.