03 Dec 2019 Mazda3 Review and Buying Guide
The Mazda3 has long been a darling of car enthusiasts for its sharp styling and sharper driving dynamics. So when it was redesigned for 2019, there was some collective anxiety as to whether Mazda could continue the magic. From our experience, Mazda certainly has, and has improved its compact sedan and hatchback in many areas such as design and refinement. As a result, the 2019 Mazda3 is easily the most fun car in its segment to drive, barring specifically performance-oriented compact models, and now has materials and looks to rival entry-level luxury cars. Its only real faults are a slightly tight interior and a character that might put off fans of cushy cruisers.
What’s new for 2019?
Pretty much everything. The Mazda3 has been completely redesigned for the 2019 model year. It’s down to one engine for now — a lightly updated 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder with or without cylinder deactivation — but a high-efficiency spark-controlled compression-ignition engine is coming later. And for the first time, the Mazda3 has available all-wheel drive on both sedan and hatchback body styles, making it one of only two cars in the segment with such a feature.
What’s the Mazda3’s interior and in-car technology like?
While the interior of the previous Mazda3 was one of the finest in the segment, the new model is vastly superior. In fact, it feels about on par with actual luxury cars in the top Premium trim. The dashboard has a sleek, modern look with subtle air vents, surfaces wrapped in a soft leather-like material, and an elegant steering wheel has nicely integrated buttons. All of the switchgear has a solid, crisp feel. The driving position is excellent, allowing the driver to sit either low or high and keeping all the controls and displays perfectly centered.
Mazda also redesigned its infotainment system for this car. A major change is that there is no touchscreen functionality whatsoever, which is also partly why Mazda has moved the infotainment screen farther up the dash and more into the driver’s line of sight. The entire menu layout has been revamped as well with options listed vertically instead of horizontally. The system runs substantially faster and smoother than the previous version, though it’s not as easy to use due to additional layers of menus. It still isn’t as complex as systems found in German cars, though. Mazda has also finally made Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard features.
How big is the Mazda3?
The Mazda3 is just barely on the large size in terms of its exterior dimensions. It’s longer than the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra, but a bit shorter than the lengthy VW Jetta. It’s about the heaviest car in the group, with every iteration tipping the scales at more than 3,000 pounds. It boasts about the longest wheelbase in the segment, but strangely that wheelbase doesn’t pay dividends inside.
Front occupants will have space right on par with compact competitors, and with nice seats and seating position, it’s plenty comfortable. But the back seat is cramped with about the least amount of legroom in the segment. The sedan’s trunk is useful but is not among the segment’s largest at 13.2 cubic feet of space — the Jetta and Elantra have one cube more, while the Honda Civic has two more. The Mazda3 hatchback jumps up to 20.1 cubic feet, a substantial improvement, but it’s down by over 5 cubic feet to the cavernous Civic.