Mazda 3 2019 Review
The ingredients have always been there with the
Mazda3: individual styling, decent driver engagement and engine-sharing with
the sporty MX-5. Yet earlier models have perhaps lacked a little pizzazz. The
all-new 3 is out to put this right with more dramatic looks and promises of
‘something more than just a car’.
The new Mazda3 is certainly striking to look at.
The low nose, slender, hooded headlamps and smooth panels are a classy
combination. The rear quarter is slightly heavier-looking but disguised by soft
curves and unadorned panels. It is available as a saloon or hatchback to widen
its appeal; the hatch is expected to be the bigger seller in the UK.
Engines and trims
There’s no longer a diesel option for the
Mazda3; it’s now available with two engine choices, Skyactiv-G or Skyactiv-X.
Oddly, both are are two-litres and consume petrol but in very different ways.
Skyactiv-G is a conventional engine, producing 122 PS; Skyactiv-X is a
compression ignition - the first of its type to market. This means it works
like a diesel yet uses standard unleaded, outputting 180 PS.
Trims are SE-L, SE-L Lux, Sport, Sport Lux, GT
Sport and GT Sport Tech. Note there’s no entry SE level; this means all
variants arrive with equipment many would describe as essential: alloy wheels,
auto wipers, rear parking sensors and LED headlamps.
All trims are available with six-speed manual or
six-speed automatic gearbox but you’ll need to pick the Sport Lux level or
above to have the choice of the new Skyactiv-X engine.
Stepping inside the 3, you’ll find fit and
finish is decent and it is a comfortable, cosseting space. There are soft touch
materials on the dash and the sweeping facia is neat with very few stray buttons (although
Mazda has sensibly retained conventional heater controls for easy use). There
is a slender vent line right across the dashboard; this works well for the
cabin but we did find the low position of the outer vents is a little less
effective in de-misting the side windows. Of note are the instruments ahead of the
driver: some of the clearest and neatest in the industry.
In the back, there is plenty of room yet the
rising window line and tapering roof make it dark. This isn’t helped by
charcoal head lining and slender back window. These features also limit rear visibility
considerably so we’d suggest the parking camera is a must - pointing buyers to
SE Lux or above.
The driving position in good in the Mazda3. It
is engaging too. Adding to the experience is the stubby gear lever with
pleasing short throw and positive and precise action.
The ride is generally pliant while offering good
levels of body control. The firm damping can catch out occasional ridges and
potholes but in general offers a reasonable balance of comfort and reassurance.
The more conventional Skyactiv-G engine has very
flat power delivery profile so it is flexible from low revs and doesn’t need to
be worked too hard to make good progress. There’s no sweet spot at the top end,
so early up-changes make sense. This is reflected in its economy with over
30mpg, even when driven through crawling traffic or being worked hard across
twisting Pennine roads.
To sum up the driving experience, it’s all about
poise: the Mazda3 balances comfort, predictability and a good level of
engagement when pushing-on. The steering isn’t the sharpest, but the overall
impression is of a high level of connectivity between driver and car.
There’s much to like about the new Mazda 3 and
it offers a real alternative to other models in the sector. The interior is a
little on the dark side and rear visibility isn’t great but otherwise it’s an
intimate and enjoyable car to drive.
About the Author
Andrew is a freelance motoring journalist with a background in IT and the vehicle leasing industry. With a lifetime’s passion for all things automotive, he can be found behind the wheel of everything from vans to supercars. In addition to reviewing the latest vehicles and technology, Andrew also runs a couple of classic British motors. He lives at the edge of the Peak District with his son and cat.
Andrew Wright @theMotorWriter