2019 Mazda3 AWD Hatchback Review By Larry Nutson
2019 Mazda3 AWD Hatchback
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
How do you usually get your first look at a newly designed car? Is it from an online photo or perhaps in a magazine, an online video stream, at the auto show, or in a dealer showroom? Or, is it out on the open-road?
Out on the open-road is very truth-telling; it’s where you see the best and the worst of a car.
When the 2019 Mazda3 Hatchback showed up for my test drive I did as I most often do and headed out to take some photos. A nearby large, empty parking lot is often my first stop to simply walk around the car from a distance and take-in its design. For varieties sake I then frequent a number of different locations for an interesting and yet clear and uncluttered backgound for photography.
I particularly like the new Mazda3’s front end. It’s clean and simple…the grille, balanced with two nicely integrated headlights and a lower valence spoiler. No corner faux air inlets or fog light pods are added to make the front end design too busy. The rear design is also clean, slightly bulging with smooth flowing lines along the profile. The execution of Mazda’s Kodo design language on the new Mazda3 is very well done with the long hood, sculpted side panels and tapered roofline.
Alas, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
Now, you may question the idea of a new “car” coming to market, whether it be a 4-door hatchback or more traditional sedan. Yes, lots of folks are buying SUVs. However there’s data to support than many are very satisfied with their sedans and would consider buying another. Mazda is not alone in bringing new “cars” to the market.
For 2019 the Mazda3 is an all-new design and offered in 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback body styles. Sedan prices start at $21,000 and is offered in base, Select, Preferred and Premium trims. The hatchback starts at $23,600 and comes in base, Preferred and Premium trims.
Both are powered by the carry-over Skyactiv 186-horsepower 2.5-L 4-cylinder. Both use a conventional 6-speed automatic, however the hatchback can also be had with a 6-speed manual in the Premium trim.
New for the Mazda3 is the availability of all-wheel drive, making it a rarity in the compact car segment.
My first drive in the new Mazda3 was at the Midwest Automotive Media Association Spring Rally held at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The locale around Elkhart Lake has some great driving roads where I could feel-out the Mazda3’s creds. Mazda’s are known for their high level of fun-to-drive quotient and good overall driving dynamics. The new Mazda3 did not disappoint; it’s engaging. The new beam-axle rear suspension and overall suspension tuning delivers a very compliant ride and excellent handling.
During the event, my fellow journalists and I had the opportunity to evaluate 13 MAMA Family Vehicle of the Year contenders. The Mazda3 was voted as one of four finalists being considered for this 2019 award.
Shortly after this rally I had a week’s time around my Chicago home driving in a Polymetal Gray Mica Mazda3 Hatchback in the Premium trim and fitted with all-wheel drive. MSRP on this model is $28,900 and optioned up it hit $31,480.
The Premium trim features include power sunroof, leather seating, head-up display, adaptive headlights, front and rear LED lighting, black wheel finish and shift paddles. A complete contingent of advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) features are available that greatly enhance overall safety and work to reduce or mitigate crashes.
The Mazda3’s premium look extends to the cockpit. The rich red leather covering the seating and across the instrument panel certainly suggested a much higher priced vehicle. But this is all part of Mazda’s move to a more upscale and sophisticated place in the market.
Soft touch surfaces are abundant with tasteful switchgear and trim bits. The leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob add to the overall appearance. Mazda has moved away from a sometimes-distracting touch screen to a center console knob used to access all infotainment functions including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s a 12-speaker premium Bose audio system to make the best of your favorite playlist. Rear seat room is a bit tight for average size adults but will work well for the younger folk.
There’s 20 cu.ft of space in the rear cargo area, which is around 50% more than the Mazda3 sedan’s trunk. And, the hatchback is 8 inches shorter. That’s why hatchbacks are a great choice for urban-dwellers. Plus, the rear sear folds for even more cargo room.
EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings for the AWD hatchback are 27 mpg combined with 24 city mpg and 32 highway mpg. The FWD model is 2 mpg higher in the city and 3 mpg higher in the highway ratings.
More details and information on the 2019 Mazda3 can be found at www.MazdaUSA.com.
The Mazda3 has been around since 2003 and is Mazda’s best selling vehicle. Mazda intends to continue to provide more premium features combined with a driver-centric driving experience. The new Mazda3 is pretty impressive and certainly deserves a test drive by anyone who likes to be engaged with their car.
© 2019 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy