There’s just something about Mazdas. The brand has a way of providing the soul of the Miata in all of their cars; something you either get or you don’t. Most recently they’ve been focusing on increasing refinement, comfort, and luxury. Despite some carryover hardware, Mazda considers this 2019 Mazda3 the start of a new 4th generation. 

It’s still available as both a 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback. We prefer the style and practicality of the hatch, like our test car, here in Premium trim.

Much like the recent Mazda6 and CX-5 makeovers, inside is where you immediately notice a transformation.

The dash is quite linear and to some might look plain. But, ‘plain’ in a good way; uncluttered, business-like, yet friendly. The infotainment screen is still dash-top, but its integration is much improved. 

Things feeling tight and solid when behind the wheel is nothing new for the Mazda3, but being relatively quiet inside is. Still not quietest in the class, but again much improved, as is the overall more polished nature of the driving experience. 

The previous gen’s naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4 engine upgrade is now standard in all 3s, but that also has been updated….slightly. Two additional horsepower have been squeaked out of the Skyactiv-G power plant, as well one more lb.-ft of torque; bringing both numbers to 186. 

A 6-speed automatic transmission comes standard on most models; a 6-speed manual is also available for the same price, but only in a Premium-trimmed hatchback. Rivals often offer a do-it-yourself trans only on entry level specials.

Bigger news; all-wheel-drive is obtainable in the Mazda3 for the first time ever. We’re not sure it was truly necessary, but hey; if that’s what it takes to sell cars these days, and you already have the hardware in place to make it happen, more power to you. You must get the automatic transmission with it, of course; and it’s a $1,400 upgrade.

Safety features have also been addressed; now standard in all hatchbacks, are Driver Attention Alert, Smart City Brake Support, and Lane Keep Assist. 

As before, and like others in the segment, there’s a simpler less costly torsion-beam suspension in the rear; but we never seem to hear too many complaints about Mazda’s setup. 

It feels flat and nimble as always. Turn-in is a little muted, but the car still responds quicker than most of its peers. The all-wheel-drive system features unique tuning from Mazda’s crossover family. Here, it can detect spirited driving, and quickly shift additional power to the rear to aid the handling process.

It’s noticeable, but not overpowering, and much appreciated; making the 3 perform better than ever. 

Now, things are not so exciting over in the acceleration department. This car really needs more power; or we should say this chassis can certainly handle a lot more.

There’s really no urgency off the line; it just kind of lumbers its way to 60 in mid seven seconds.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings aren’t that impressive either; 24-City, 32-Highway, and 27-Combined for the all-wheel-drive hatchback. But that’s still a better than average Energy Impact Score, with 12.2-barrels of oil consumed yearly and 5.4- tons of CO2 emitted. 

Now, as for a most practical matter, and most likely the reason you want a hatchback in the first place; there’s 20.1 cubic-ft. of cargo room behind the seats, compared to the sedan’s 13.2 cubic-ft. of trunks space. Not to mention, that’s way more than the CX-3 utility’s paltry 12.4 cubic-ft. 

Pricing starts at $21,920 for a Mazda3 Sedan; you will pay more the hatchback, which starts at $24,520. Add all-wheel-drive and Premium trim, and you can be looking at over $30,000; a lot of car, yes, but we are still talking about a compact here. 

Our initial take? With all-wheel-drive, now there really is no reason to buy the CX-3 ute. But, upon further review, the Mazda3 Hatchback is much more than that. Yes, there is more utility here than in many actual utilities, but also an ever more enticing driving experience, with a more premium feel and interior. So, truth be told, the Mazda3 not only is a compact standout; it’s just a great car, period. 


  • Engine: 2.5 liter
  • Horsepower: 186
  • Torque: 186 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 7.5 seconds
  • EPA: 24 mpg city / 32 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 12.2 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 5.4 tons/yr