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by Bill P. and Sommer Thornton
The Mazda3, the most popular whip in the brand, finally gives a unique personality to the hatch and sedan models. While the 2019 Mazda3 sedan is tame with muted athleticism by way of a low wide stance, the 2019 Mazda3 hatchback is modded-out with aerodynamic and premium perks that make it a fun whip for all.
For 2020 the Mazda3 sedan is available in Select, Preferred and Premium packages, while the Mazda3 hatchback is offered in Preferred and Premium Packages. A new design language has been developed to inspire and create an emotional bond with drivers in distinct ways. In addition to being the first production model adopting a matured Kodo design language, the Mazda3, through Jinba-Ittai driving philosophy provides drivers with a feeling that the whip is an extension of their body.
We reviewed both the 2019 Mazda3 sedan and the 2019 Mazda3 hatchback and found that the 5-door hatch rocket is one of the most fun whips on the road under $30k. On top of having its unique – baby rocket identity, the new Mazda3 hatch is decked out with a new spoiler, new chiseled frame and wide rear planted stance that gives it outstanding athleticism. Moreover the Mazda3 hatchback comes standard with many premium safety features with its i-Activsense package.
Fraternal Twins – 2019 Mazda3 Hatch and Mazda3 Sedan’s Unique Identities
Brand designers obviously listened to past consumers and reviewers because the new Mazda3 seems to answer all their prayers. Both the new Mazda3 sedan and Mazda3 hatchback, though they possess the same 2.5 liter Skyactiv Drive 4 cylinder, they have drastically different design cues inside and out. The new Mazda3 hatchback boasts standard 18 inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights. The Mazda3 hatch also has an exclusive body-color rear roof spoiler that aids aerodynamics along with the optional shark fin antenna.
The 2019 Mazda3 sedan is more of a starter-sedan for young professionals who want to look cool and still be economical. The sedan’s athletic features are more muted offering standard 16 inch alloy wheels, LED daytime turning lights and head lights and a matte finish grille. Fresh flair is subtle with a gloss black trim on the wide bumper and edged-out tail lights that give it a sportier look.
The 2019 Mazda3 hatchback is longer with a slim muscular stance in the front and wide planted big wheels in the rear. Surprisingly both the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback have most of the same dimensions. Both the Mazda3 sedan and hatch have a 107 inch wheelbase, are 70 inches in width and have a 5.5 inch ground clearance. The only difference is the near 8 inch advantage in length the Mazda3 sedan has over its hatch sibling.
Both the Mazda3 hatch and sedan have power-folding body color side mirrors.
The Mazda 3 sedan offers six exterior color options and three interior color options. But leather seats are only standard with the Mazda3 hatchback – not the sedan. The Mazda3 sedan doesn’t offer the soul red crystal metallic or the machine gray metallic paint jobs on the base model. The red leather interior design is only available with the new Mazda3 hatchback, as is the new Polymetal Gray exterior color.
Fresh Interior Cues Create Topnotch Environments
The redesigned interior follows a human centric philosophy providing confidence and ease of operation while elevating comfort and infotainment in the Mazda 3 sedan and hatch.
The 2019 Mazda 3 sedan comes standard with cloth seats. And leatherette and leather seats are optional packages. The Mazda3 sedan, with all the bells and whistles has sophisticated style with 2-tone leather seats and large center stack with gloss black and chrome trim.
Of both models, the 2019 Mazda3 hatchback is the most stylish with a standard leatherette seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and leather-wrapped shifter. Heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and steering wheel mounted controls for audio, cruise and voice command are all standard on the 2019 Mazda3 hatchback.
Instead of looking like awkward short sedan, the Mazda3 hatch looks like a fun whip for one. The 2019 Mazda3 hatchback is designed with the driving position and seats putting the body in a natural S-shaped curve of the spine to create a seamless connection. For 2019 the Mazda3 hatchback offers two new interior color options – a new Greige leatherette and red leather. The red leather interior in the hatchback really styles the whip well.
Both models also boast a quieter cabin with a reduction of noise and vibration thanks to upgrades to sound absorbing functionality in the headliner and floor mats and two-wall insulation. The Mazda3 sedan needs more insulation as the wind could be heard hitting the sides.
The Mazda3 sedan offers a more sophisticated cabin design with optional leather sports seats, leather shift knob and steering wheel. Six-way power adjustable seats for the driver are standard with manual lumbar adjustment.
Both the Mazda3 sedan and hatch have advanced keyless entry, push button engine start, and new elements for noise absorption.
Both models also boast a redesigned center console with the big shift knob, new commander control and armrest moved forward and cup holders repositioned to the front. While the dash is recessed back on the Mazda3 hatch allowing for more legroom and a connectedness with driver and the vehicle.
In the Mazda3 hatchback, the entire center stack is really dope, with easy to find buttons and big rotary knob. The entire center console is gloss black, and chrome trim on buttons gives it fresh style. The center stack is wide for big armed people and there’s a big storage shelf. Now it’s easy to rest arms of different lengths on the Mazda3 Hatch’s center console because it slides forward. The Hatch’s steering wheel has many buttons including for the multi info display in the instrument cluster.
The multi info display is a digital dash that shows safety alerts for the blind spot monitor, lane departure alert plus driving info like average mpgs etc. Sometimes these can be cumbersome because when gripping it’s easy to accidently press a button.
The interior of Mazda3 sedan has a nice design scheme that makes it look like a midsize whip with a big center console, big side door cup holders and a big glove box. It also has a small but very informative Heads up Display that projects useful stats and safety warnings on a small piece of glass between in the driver’s sightline. An Active Driving Display, which projects important info and warning on the windshield is now available with the 2019 Mazda3 hatchback with a Premium Package. The hatchback offers a standard 7.7 inch TFT reconfigurable gauge display.
The Mazda3 is the first to introduce an all-new 8.8 inch center display with Mazda Connect standard on all models. A new 3-way layout 8 speaker sound system is also standard on both the Mazda3 hatch and Mazda3 sedan.
Infotainment in the 2019 Mazda3 hatchback is more abundant than its sedan sibling.
The 2019 Mazda3 with the Preferred Package offers a banging BOSE 12-speaker audio system, redesigned with an aluminum speaker grille. To reduce sound vibrations to nearly nothing, designers moved the woofers to the front cowl instead of in the doors to transmit sound directly to the passengers. Apple Carplay and Android auto are now standard on the 2019 Mazda3 hatchback, with Bluetooth standard on both models.
Outstanding Performance in a Class by Itself
The Skyactiv-G 2.5L DOHC 4-cylinder engine is one of the cleanest, most well-balanced powertrains on the road with a mighty 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque (at 4,000 rpm). With new optimized intake ports, piston-shaped split fuel injection and a coolant valve the Mazda3 has a sportier performance, elevated fuel economy and cleaner emissions.
G-vectoring Control Plus is now standard on all Mazda3 vehicles offering more control and maneuverability in various situations including land changes at high speeds and driving on slippery roads.
The Mazda3 sedan is sprinty, fun and engaging. The sedan is super light, yet planted on the ground at high speeds. Insulation should be better as the passengers can feel wind hitting the sides. A Skyactive 6-speed Sport Mode automatic transmission is athletic but if the gas is slammed too hard it can be heard slipping and trying to catch up.
A sport mode selector adds chutpa for lightning fast aggression. There’s a lag even in sport mode, but once the whip builds up steam it gets up and goes. And whether in sport and normal driving mode the whip is efficient – with a 36 mpg highway EPA (30 mpg combined / 27mpg city.)
Independent front and rear suspension in the Mazda3 sedan is a big turnoff. Drivers will feel every bump as they ride over rail road tracks and speed bumps. It seems like the sedan’s shocks don’t absorb well. It almost feels like the whip loses balance.
Electric power steering is responsive and fluid. Four-wheel disc brakes are harsh and fail in the clutch. If drivers slam on the brakes, the Mazda3 sedan will stutter step.
The 2019 Mazda3 hatch features the same Skyactiv 2.4 liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine, but is matched to a Skyactiv drive 6-speed sport mode automatic transmission that adds amazing aggression. A Skyactiv-MT six-speed manual transmission is available on the Mazda3 Premium hatchback with front-wheel drive.
Cylinder deactivation is standard on the Mazda3 hatchback and the Mazda3 Premium sedan. It gives the whips more efficiency by deactivating two of four cylinders during light loads.
The Mazda3 sedan and hatchback’s performance are totally different. The new Mazda3 hatchback has great acceleration, aggressive and still feels clean. The whip holds rpms like a sports car and stays planted at ultra-high speeds. The combo of all-wheel drive, electric power assisted steering and G-Vectoring Control Plus allows the Mazda3 hatchback to bob and weave between cars swiftly. Unlike the Mazda3 sedan, the Mazda3 hatchback corners and quickly straightens to accelerate out. So drivers will feel confident speeding into narrow or tight spaces.
In sport mode, the Mazda3 hatchback’s tighter suspension is cushioned and comforting in every road condition. Electric Power Assisted Steering is fluid and poised.
Mazda’s new and improved i-ACTIV AWD system now has four-wheel vertical load detection and works with G-Vectoring Control Plus to control torque distribution between the front and rear wheels.
Enhanced Safety Technology Now Standard
Last year’s model had much of the safety technology as add-ons. But the 2019 Mazda3 hatchback offers a standard advanced iActiveSense Safety package that includes Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Advanced Smart City Brake Support, Smart Brake Support, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist. High Beam Control and Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go is also standard on the 2019 Mazda3. An available Driver Attention System uses the forward sensing camera and other vehicle stats to detect driver fatigue, and will show a warning in the digital dash and perhaps a warning sound if needed.
The 2019 Mazda3 sedan just offers standard ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. Adaptive Front Lighting System and Active Driving Display and the iActiveSense Safety Package with All-wheel drive are optional. The blind spot monitor in the Mazda3 sedan has such a wide range that it activates for cars pulling out of lots passing by, or if a car is switching lanes behind. Also, the lane departure alert will go off for old lane lines that have been painted over and in construction zones with lines removed.
Some of the safety features in the 2019 Mazda3 are life-saving, others are jarring and scary. For instance steering assist will push the Mazda3 back into its lane if it veers too close to the dividing lines. But it pushes it so hard that the Mazda3 may hit something else. Once Editor Sommer tried to swerve to miss a dead animal in the road and the steering assist wouldn’t allow it. Pre Collision braking is obsessive-compulsive with a range too wide. It activated auto braking harshly when a car in front was turning. Moreover it doesn’t give drivers an opportunity to accelerate after auto braking. So drivers have to wait for the brakes to deactivate and by then they may get rear-ended.
Also, the blind spot monitor picks up cars two lanes away and the light lingers in the active driving display long after the car has passed. The lane departure notification is useful in the active driving display, but it seems redundant if steering assist pushes the car back in its lane.
The 2019 Mazda3 sedan has an MSRP starting at $21k and $23k for the hatchback. Fully loaded the Mazda3 retails for just $27,900 for sedan the $28,900 for the hatchback.
Check out more pics from our First Drive with the 2019 Mazda3 sedan and 2019 Mazda3 hatchback on our Facebook Page!