The 2019 Mazda3 sedan comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, cloth seating surfaces and door trims, power windows with one-touch down/up feature. Metro News Service photo

Redesigned Mazda3 sedan a sleeper in performance, interior quality

Looks and a perky personality to boot

Mazda is having a tremendous couple of years, and the 2019 model year has been great for the Japanese automaker in terms of product line. Every Mazda I’ve driven this model year has been memorable (in a good way). Each one could be reviewed in a similar way. I look for consistent styling (AKA a “look”) and a driving performance with personality (AKA “fun” to drive). My tester this week has both of these qualities.

For 2019, the Mazda3 has all new looks. It’s available as both a sedan and a hatchback. I prefer the Mazda3 as a hatch, as I just think the styling is sexier and sleeker. This week’s tester, however, was the more mature sedan, but that doesn’t mean it’s dull or lacks youthful aesthetics.

Kudos to the Mazda design team for injecting enough youth, without making this small sedan silly or quirky like other cars in this segment. Rather, the Mazda3 sedan has a broad appeal that would work as a first-time car for a student or a first-job car for a young professional. It would even work as an empty-nester vehicle for an older generation driver. That’s part of the charm of the Mazda3.

The redesigned car has a timeless exterior with just enough styling to give it distinction on the road. The front end is cute and simple. The back end could use a little more sportiness with a spoiler (at least) and maybe more design flare. Certainly the back side is the Mazda3 sedan’s weakest area, and why I prefer it as a hatchback.

If you’ve read my other reviews of the Mazda product line, you find I describe them all similarly. This Mazda3 has loads of driving personality; the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine has a significant amount of pep and driving dynamics. It overperforms its output numbers as the 186-horsepower engine feels more like 250 horses. It’s quick off the line and handles extraordinarily well. The six-speed transmission was a bit of a disappointment for a newly redesigned car. I would’ve expected more gears, but for a six-speed, it actually performed well, with quick upshifts and downshifts. I’d take this six-speed transmission over a continuously variable transmission found in many of today’s vehicles.

The Mazda3 is available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. My tester was the FWD version.

The interior is another asset for this new-look Mazda3. The high-quality materials used make this feel like a great bargain, when compared to other “cheaper” vehicles in this segment. The Mazda3 sedan has room for five passengers, although shoulder and legroom might get limited with three adults in the back seat. Keep it to two average-sized adults in the back seat and there won’t be any complaints with passenger comfort.

The trunk of the sedan has 13.1 cubic feet of cargo room. This is below-average for the segment. Consider the hatchback for those who might need more cargo room, as the hatch has 20.1 cubic feet of cargo room.

For every Mazda I review, I harp on the infotainment system. It’s been a point of contention for me for several years. I don’t like the interface and find it unnecessarily complex for simpler tasks like setting preset channels. There is a bigger learning curve for this system; my one week with it just doesn’t put me into the comfort zone. Perhaps it might grow on me more if I spent more time with it.

However, the 2019 Mazda3 has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and that allows you to overcome some of the annoyances of the infotainment system. Using CarPlay, I was able to enjoy the Bose 12-speaker sound system without being confounded by the infotainment system.

There are four trims for the Mazda3 sedan. My tester was the top-of-the-line Premium trim. It has a base price of $26,500. This trim comes with paddle shifters, LED lights, a power-sliding moonroof, leather seats and a head-up display that is more intrusive than helpful.

Fuel economy for the FWD Mazda3 is 27 mpg/city and 36 mpg/highway. Going over the 30-mpg plateau is always good. During a week’s worth of mixed driving, I averaged nearly 33 mpg.

Sales have been lagging on the Mazda3, so a redesign was in order. But more than anything, Mazda faces the challenge of getting people to try this car out. Once they get behind the wheel and feel the fun-to-drive persona of this car and the above-average interior, they will be impressed.

2019 MAZDA3 SEDAN

  • Price/As-tested price………………………………………… $26,500/$26,500
  • Mileage…………………………………… 27 mpg/city; 36 mpg/hwy
  • Engine……………………………………… 2.5-liter 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower…………………………… 186 hp/187 lbs.-ft.
  • Transmission…………………………… 6-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels……………. Front-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point……………. Hofu, Japan

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