2019 Mazda3 Reviews and Buying Guide

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2019 Mazda3
2019 Mazda3 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Video review, first drive, and comprehensive reviews of the 2019 Mazda3.

Interested in the Mazda3? Check out our guide below that includes every review we have published as well as our Should You Buy feature and video review.


2019 Mazda3 Video Review


Should You Buy a 2019 Mazda3?

by: Matt St-Pierre

The new 2019 Mazda3 is not just some new compact car. According to Mazda, it is now a new premium compact car. We’ll have to agree.

We keep reporting on the fact that car sales are dwindling and although that may be true, there are some manufacturers who have no intention of setting them aside. Mazda may have many SUVs on tap but the first step in its quest to move upmarket is not with the introduction of a new utility vehicle, but rather with the new 4th generation 2019 Mazda3.

If you are in the market for one of these small, affordable and efficient cars, the options are numerous. The Honda Civic remains king in the country, the Toyota Corolla rules the world, then there are the Hyundai Elantra, Volkswagen Golf and Jetta and a few others. Each offers something but we think the Mazda3 advances nearly everything.

Why you should buy a 2019 Mazda3

  1. At $18,000, the Mazda3 is among the more affordable cars in the segment. It’s a near bargain when one considers the design and standard content.
  2. The new Mazda3 is the quietest and most refined in the category. It is also very comfortable thanks to its revised seats.
  3. The availability of AWD makes the 2019 Mazda3 only one of three currently available among its peers.
  4. On the road, the car is incredibly competent. It is now the one by which all others will be measured.
  5. The 2.5-litre 4-cylinder is now offered at lower priced trims. Its extra power is welcomed and best of all, the fuel consumption penalty is negligible. The addition of AWD barely increases fuel consumption as well. 

Why you should not buy a 2019 Mazda3

  1. If AWD is an important consideration when buying, the least expensive version retails for $26,000 which is $6,000 more than the basic AWD Subaru Impreza.
  2. Unlike Subaru and Volkswagen, AWD is included only with an automatic transmission.
  3. The cabin is not as spacious as some of its competitors.
  4. Visibility, especially for rear passengers and in the 5-door Sport, is simply bad.

2019 Mazda3 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2019 Mazda3
2019 Mazda3 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2019 Mazda3 First Drive

by:Eric LeFrancois

We have to forget almost everything we know about the Mazda3. Freshly redesigned, the new generation has come a long way since the first 3 appeared in 2003.

While that car stood out for its driving dynamics and fun factor, the 2019 Mazda3 adds an element of refinement with a starting price that reflects its newfound features list.

Starting at $18,000, the new Mazda3 is a step up from the previous generation and its $16,000 starting sticker price. There are more features, true, but in a segment where each dollar counts the step up in price may cool down potential buyers.

A New Dynamic Design for the 2019 Mazda3

Mazda gives its compact a deliberately dynamic look, especially on the five-door version, whose rear quarter panels constitute an arch that accentuates movements.

This singular design forges the originality of the new Mazda3, but nevertheless obstructs rear 3/4 visibility. The Japanese brand knew this and offers at no extra cost blind spot monitoring systems.

Inside, a classic and modern layout awaits driver and passengers. The arrangement of the controls is rational, there are plenty of storage and spaces, and the spongy coating of the dashboard in certain spots, is rather opulent.

2019 Mazda3 Review Interior
2019 Mazda3 Interior | Photo: Eric LeFrançois

The quality and comfort of the seats also stands out. The driver’s seat especially, with its numerous adjustments complimented by an adjustable steering column, make finding a comfortable driving position a breeze.

Interior space is not too far off the Mazda3’s closest competitors, but the low ceiling can make entering and exiting the car a bit tricky as engineers had to lower the position of the seats. Those who are, say, less flexible, may have a problem getting in and out of Mazda’s latest compact.

AWD Goodness

Expected at the end of winter, the addition of all-wheel drive is certainly one of the strongest arguments – in Quebec at least – of this new-generation 2019 Mazda3.

We have to go back to the 323 GT-X to find the last time a Mazda compact had all-wheel drive.

By adding i-Activ AWD to its new Mazda3, Mazda joins a fairly limited group of all-wheel drive compact sedans that at the moment only includes the Subaru Impreza and Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon.

In addition, the increased modularity of its architecture will also allow it to eventually host a hybrid or electric engine.

For the moment, however, only 2.0-liter or 2.5-liter engines are available, both with direct injection. New technology fans will probably wait until early 2020 to discover the new SKYACTIV-X engine which promises to reduce fuel consumption by 20% to 30% while also improving low-end torque.

This unique powertrain still relies on a high compression ratio to which is added the benefits of a low-fuel mixture which can be ignited by compression or by a spark.

The 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-X engine is accompanied by a light hybridization system using an alternator starter powered by a 24V lithium ion battery.

2019 Mazda3 Review
2019 Mazda3 Review | Photo: Eric LeFrançois

The 2019 Mazda3 Is Still Fun

Thanks to its low center of gravity and a completely new platform, the driving sensations are better than ever. Behind the wheel, the Mazda3 offers the classic strengths of the brand (ergonomics, craftsmanship, precision) that make you feel like you are one with the car.

That feeling also helps forgive the fact that the base 2.0-liter engine lacks low- and mid-range power. Compared with the onslaught of turbocharged engines coming from the competition, the 2019 Mazda3’s base engine doesn’t feel as fast.

On the other hand, Mazda vehicles often feel slow because their impressive handling and overall sporty dynamics beg for more power.

Compared to the previous Mazda3, the new model is quieter and a notch up in terms of comfort. You can now have a conversation with your passenger without having to speak louder when the car is on and the suspension filters out road irregularities efficiently.

The 2019 Mazda3 has that little something missing in other Japanese compact cars. This new generation shows that Mazda hasn’t lost a step when it comes to creativity and the addition of exclusive features like AWD will give this new Mazda3 a step up on the competition.


2019 Mazda3 Review

by: Matt St-Pierre

Mazda has achieved what many volume carmakers thrive for and that is delivering all the goods in one desperately attractive package. The new Mazda3 is brilliant.

Mazda has forever been the underdog among Japanese carmakers in North America. This was mostly the result of their different approaches to design and engineering – the rotary engine comes to mind…

And like the rotary engine, Mazda’s 7th generation of cars, which begins with the new 2019 Mazda3, brings with it a very promising new outlook for future products. Mazda has always delivered attractive cars that are good to drive but this time around, the latter two points are dialed to 11 as are refinement and overall quality. And that’s not all.

The 4th generation of the Mazda3 is the one that ushers a recently most sought-after feature, and that is all-wheel-drive. Until now, the only options in the compact car segments were the Subaru Impreza/Crosstrek and the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen.

Going premium

2019 Mazda3 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Without specifically saying it, but by showing it through the presentation, Mazda wants to rise to and surpass VW’s historical standing as a premium mass-consumption car manufacturer. At the top of a few of Mazda’s comparison lists in some slides were the Volkswagen Jetta and Golf. After seeing both the Mazda3 sedan and 5-door Sport live, sitting in them and now driving the cars, I can confirm that they have achieved what they simply refer to as Mazda Premium.

From a design standpoint, something that is near and dear to Mazda, engineers and designers in Hiroshima have thought of and addressed everything. This entire review could serve to describe the excellent new seats, the longer center armrest, the improved storage, and the amazing attention to detail in the cabin. This however you can see for yourself when you visit your local motor show or dealership.

A premium cabin for the driver

2019 Mazda3 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

What must be noted about the new 2019 Mazda3’s interior is that it was conceived to support the driver by limiting distractions. Although this sounds simple enough, it’s not. Once more, I could write an entire report and what they did, why they did and how they accomplished what is the driver sees when behind the wheel. It also among the most serene and quietest cars in the category. I’d go so far as to include midsize cars too.

In the semi-briefest of nutshells, Mazda has done away with the touchscreen, improved on existing controls and brought everything the driver needs perfectly within reach. About the screen, it’s now 8.8-inches across, clearer and sharper than ever, and easier to navigate through the Commander control knob. The driver is further supported by an also standard 7-inch display embedded in the instrument panel and, depending on trim, a real head’s up display.

Premium design

2019 Mazda3 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

As part of the move Mazda Premium, the Japanese automaker has seriously upgraded the perspective and presentation of all switches and controls, including creating high-end haptic feedback from said controls.

The cars are beautiful inside and out. For the first time ever in my experience, I lean faintly towards the sedan as my choice for the prettier of the two, but I’d still opt for the Sport because hatchback…

A premium driving experience

2019 Mazda3 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Either way however, the Mazda3 drives like a dream. And the story here is not about power or speed, it’s about driving because driving is good for the Soul. As this was a Mazda3 AWD drive event, all cars featured the SkyActiv-G 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine, the 6-speed automatic transmission and Mazda’s always impressive i-Activ AWD system.

Mazda’s SkyActiv-X Technology May Not Come To North America

The 2.5-litre returns with improvements and now develops 186-horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 186 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. With AWD, the Mazda3 packs on roughly 75kg over the FWD cars and as such, performance and fuel economy are far from affected. Mazda’s i-Activ AWD system is quick enough to negate and even improve upon the lighter FWD car’s acceleration times.

While AWD is quite an enhancement, the chassis’ tuning is what deserves the most praise. And this praise does not come because of the use of a highly complex suspension design. In fact, the 2019 Mazda3 now sports a simpler torsion beam setup in the rear. Gone are the multiple links, numerous bushings and pivots points, instead replaced by a stiff and efficient bar – this is so counter intuitive. The net result, along with a similar-as-previous front McPherson strut assembly, is a car that tracks beautifully, maintains control and responds to every circumstance.

AWD and G-Vectoring

2019 Mazda3 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Part and parcel to this is Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC Plus) which, along with the AWD, combine to maximize an ideal distribution of power, traction and grip at each individual wheel. Coupling this with a new progressive brake pedal and heavy but linear steering makes for a very rewarding driving experience.

No matter the road’s surface, the car’s combined system artificially extend its limits providing the driver with more confidence. On wet, cold and twisty roads, I dove deep into corners and discovered on one instance that I was pushing too hard. With no road left, I was able to correct my trajectory as though the car had not quite reached its limits, whereas I thought we were at them.

Premium achievement

2019 Mazda3 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Truly, the new 2019 Mazda3 is an achievement that delivers all the goods in every aspect. Or nearly, that is. If I was to bring up one negative point, it would be outward visibility, especially in the Sport, and the cabin’s relatively tight quarters. While it would be difficult to fit my two young children, their seats and related gear in the car, it will accommodate anyone requiring less interior volume.

At $27,000, a 2019 Mazda3 Sport GS AWD may very well be the best-rounded car in the segment. To look at it and inspect the specs, this car could easily be mistaken for an Audi A3 or maybe even a Mercedes-Benz A Class.

Mazda has attained their goal and with the exception of the badge, it certainly blurs the line between compact and compact luxury offerings.


2019 Mazda3 Images

2019 Mazda3 Sport | Photo: Mazda
2019 Mazda3 Hatchback
2019 Mazda3 Sport | Photo: Mazda
2019 Mazda3 Sport | Photo: Mazda
2019 Mazda3 interior
2019 Mazda3 Sedan | Photo: Mazda
2019 Mazda3 Interior
2019 Mazda3 Sedan | Photo: Mazda

1 COMMENT

  1. This review perfectly captures the essence of the 2019 Mazdas Sport GT AWD. Fell in love with the vehicle after 2 minutes into the test drive and took delivery of a polymetal grey / red interior in June. Not Disappointed as this vehicle is vastly superior to the 2015 MB GLA250 4matic it replaced. Handling/steering better, transmission much smoother and though not a turbo almost as fast. Seating and interior trim much better. It is loaded with safety features especially auto rear and front cross traffic breaking. The heads up display is awesome even displaying navigation directions. Blind spot monitoring displayed on the heads up, side and rearview mirrors.
    Adaptive cruise very nice as is lane keeping assist.
    What is most impressive is the quiet but firm and smooth ride. Way better than the harsh, noisy ride of the MB GLA250. The Bose sound system is awesome and the rotary control is quite easy to learn and use compared to the cumbersome and confusing MB system.
    Negatives are few – back seat tight but does not impact as never used. The blind spot not really much different from any other vehicle I have driven and totally offset by the best blind spot system available. Criticism of the C pillars totally unjustified except maybe for back seat occupants that are infrequent. Not a family car but a great 2 person, fun, luxury vehicle almost $20K less than Audi or Benz.

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