2019 Mazda3 Sedan
Keeps getting better
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- 13 May 2019
By James Park
Let’s say a plastic surgeon can transform Ugly Betty into Snow White. Would that be harder than enhancing someone already recognized as beautiful?
The standard of beauty is not set in stone but let’s just say you find the previous generation Mazda3 quite easy on the eyes. Can the designers improve its looks without inadvertently damaging what’s already there? It’s probably not an easy task.
Admittedly, this writer had never really warmed up to Mazda’s ‘Kodo’ design language that has shaped its cars for the past six or so years. However, the styling of all new 2019 Mazda3, while it doesn’t look all that different at first glance, seems to have improved all the same.
At closer scrutiny, the headlights are slimmer and they give the car perhaps a more menacing mien. The hood line no longer overlaps with headlights (I don’t know if this is good or bad). The side panel appears more scooped out and the trunk deck is more pronounced.
As before, the distance between the front axle and the fire wall is relatively long for a front-wheel drive car, giving it the overall impression of longer hood and shorter overhang of the classic sports sedan profile. It is a handsome vehicle with better proportions than before.
The difference between the new car and the model it replaces is much more pronounced once you step inside.
The clean and minimalist approach to interior design remains but better executed. As mentioned by other journalists, the steering wheel could belong in a BMW. However, chrome buttons on the steering wheel are hard to read on sunny days.
The infotainment screen looks more elegant but unlike before, it’s now controlled by the command dial alone, located right behind the gear-shift lever. It is still smallish but wider than before and the system supports both Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
The front seats are supportive and comfortable and the materials used throughout the cabin have appearance and feel of quality. The optional Head-Up Display unit projects info directly onto the lower windshield, not on the flimsy plastic panel as before.
Thanks Mazda for not only keeping the regular PRNDL shift-lever but providing also the proper manual shift pattern – pulling for up and pushing for down-shift. The driver can also use paddle-shifters on the steering wheel.
The Mazda3 sedan still comes in three guises: GX, GS and the top-of-the line GT. The base GX starts from $18,000 before taxes and mandatory fees and can be equipped with six-speed manual. The GS and the GT start from $22,700 and $26,200 respectively and they only come with six-speed automatic transmission.
GX and GS are equipped with the base 2.0 litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine developing 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. Optional on GS and standard on GT is the 2.5 litre normal-breathing four-cylinder mill good for maximum 186 horses and the same 186 lb-ft of twist. Thus equipped, the Mazda3 is among the most powerful in its class.
To stand out from its rivals, the new Mazda3 has another trick up its sleeve. For the first time, it is now available with AWD. One can order it as an option on GS and GT. It is not available, however, on the base GX model.
The GT test-vehicle provided to this writer did not have the AWD but it did come with almost three grand worth of options including HUD, Bose audio, heated front seats as well as heated steering wheel, automatic climate control and so on.
As well, the squadron of electronic nannies consisting of blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, radar cruise with stop and go, smart brake support, etc. work in harmony to assist the driver.
Unlike the previous generation, the new Mazda3 gets torsion beam rear suspension instead of the more sophisticated multi-link system. Perhaps thanks to the torque-vectoring, this does not seem to affect the handling as much. The car is still eager and fun-to-drive and its ride is supple most of the time.
The new Mazda3 has lot going for itself. The optional AWD, especially, will get the attention of many Canadian customers. More than that, the car is a well-rounded family sedan with upscale feel and improved styling. It’s hard not to like this vehicle. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)
2019 Mazda3 GT Sedan
As tested: $29,150
Engine: 2.5 litre four
Power: 186 hp/186 lb-ft
Transmission: 6 spd auto
Fuel: 8.8 litres per 100km (city), 6.6 litres (highway)
Best: upscale atmosphere, optional AWD
Worst: chrome buttons hard to read, not much difference in styling
Competition: Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte
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