2019 Mazda 3 AWD
2019 Mazda 3 AWD
“Zoom Zoom Zoom!” came to mind, when I borrowed the 2019 Mazda 3 AWD to review. Mazda’s new exterior redesign shows a more aggressive look. The current modern trend in car design is an aggressive, sharp, and angular set of body panels. Mazda decided to take a more fluid approach to this trend. They’ve implemented a design language called Kodo or “Soul of Motion.” The Kodo language can be seen on the side profile of the car that presents an almost seamless line from the front all the way to the back.
When I took the Mazda 3 to a local car show, it turned heads with celebrity-like attention. A group of people approached me and inquired about the car. These car fans thought it was actually the larger Mazda 6. Even though the Soul Red Crystal Metallic color isn’t the most vibrant, the color stood out with sophistication among the crowd of cars. It’s eye-catching in a sleek, cool way of its own. The 18-inch alloy wheels also make its presence known.
There’s a science to car interiors and Mazda has it down pat. Mazda extensively studied the human body’s movement inside of a vehicle and implemented this perfectly into the Mazda 3. From the first time I sat in the driver’s seat, everything felt exactly where it should be. The powered seats offered plenty of support and positioning options, and without any time wasted I quickly found that sweet spot that everyone hopes for in a new car.
The surrounding center console and door created a smaller than expected space. I didn’t find it uncomfortable. The best way I could describe it is a nice warm hug, but others may find it too tight. The leather-wrapped steering wheel’s size and design worked well when using the integrated buttons. With virtually every device having a touch option, I was surprised that the 3’s infotainment screen wasn’t a touchscreen. Everything was controlled with a large knob called “The Commander.”
With the ergonomics creating an ideal position, my right hand naturally fell into place on the Commander control. The Mazda Connect Infotainment System has a simple, straightforward interface that took me only a couple of drives to figure out its full functionality.
Of course, they included the typical Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Since I’m an iPhone user, the CarPlay integration felt the same as any other vehicle. With the non-touchscreen integration, it’s clear that Mazda intentionally positioned the screen so it didn’t have to be at arm’s length. The screen is at a better line of sight than other vehicles with a touchscreen, and it doesn’t require the driver to look down and away from the road.
I didn’t mind not having a touchscreen since I loathe looking at displays littered with fingerprints. Overall, the interior of the Mazda 3 felt comfortable and looked luxurious in the white leather within my review vehicle. With the pros, there are cons. Although the white was luxurious, this particular color for an interior is a double-edged sword.
Having kids in the backseat will guarantee that you’ll have shoe marks on the white leather seats. My 4-year-old’s shoe marks were fairly easy to clean off with a generic leather cleaner. Although it didn’t damage the leather, it is inconvenient to constantly wipe leather that will repeatedly get dirty from little ones. Even though the black leather is an option, it doesn’t have the same prestigious look.
I’m not the tallest person at 5’7”, but I didn’t like the lack of headroom even for my height. I had less than 4 inches of headroom, and I wasn’t the only one that noticed. Others that were about my height expressed the same concern in both the front and back seats.
Now when it comes to driving, the Mazda 3 borrows its feel from the race-proven MX-5. You could say that the 3 is an AWD MX-5 with 4 doors. This car’s grip proved unbelievable! On the first day I received this car we had light rain, which always causes the slickest of road conditions. This was a great time to test the AWD traction control system.
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These are not just words from marketing. It actually works. I decided to try the system without the traction control, and it felt seamless distributing the power to the right wheel—even when I thought I still had the traction control on. With the traction control on, I never felt it activate with slippery conditions. The AWD system ranked as my favorite feature on the Mazda 3.
The 2.5L SKYACTIV-G 4 cylinder offered 186 hp and lb-ft. It also offered cylinder deactivation, which I didn’t notice until I stumbled upon the graphic in the infotainment system. The power delivered felt smooth, but I felt like it could use another 20-30 hp. The 6-speed automatic transmission could be at fault, since it felt like it took forever to shift into 2nd and then into 3rd. What should Mazda do to remedy this issue? Should they add more power or shorter gears? Of course I’m going to side with more power only on one condition: keep the incredibly balanced feel that makes this Mazda 3 so special.
The Mazda 3 is ready to take on a large amount of competition in certain aspects. I would put it in direct competition with the Volkswagen Jetta or the Honda Civic. Among those cars, I would choose the Mazda 3. If it had the turbocharged engine from the Mazda 6, I would say it would be a great contender against the GLi and Si— or even the Type R trims of those cars. When it comes to the AWD system and the interior quality, it matches against the Audi A3 and the BMW 3 series, but at a much lower price tag.
After handling the car for a week, would I buy the Mazda 3 AWD?
Weighing my options here, it depends. What it does good, it does great! The AWD, feel, and build quality rocks. What it lacks, it really lacks. The headroom is limited, and it could use an increase in power.
The price as tested was $30,930. It crosses that $30,000 mark, which for what you get here, can make it unappealing to customers. If it were at $28k or even $29k, it would leave room for a higher performance model, like the Mazdaspeed 3 of previous generations, and that would justify crossing the $30k mark. Overall, this is a great step forward for Mazda. I look forward to what they have in store for the future!
Having grown up in the 90s, racing simulators like Gran Turismo helped shape his passion for cars further than the usual Hot Wheels cars. Elias picked up photography as hobby and immediately knew his subjects would be cars. His photography then evolved to videography and capturing people’s passionate stories about their cars.