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2019 Mazda3’s performance blows away all compact competitors Featured

Posted On Sunday, 09 June 2019 13:27 Written by
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The Mazda3 stands out in its class with a distinctive design and responsive ride. The Mazda3 stands out in its class with a distinctive design and responsive ride. Photo by Matt Myftiu/

It's hard to get excited about sedans lately. Most of them are just the type of car you buy for your child who is new to driving, so they can't do anything too crazy.

Thankfully for those people looking for a sedan aimed at drivers who love to drive and want a vehicle that provides a more fulfilling experience, there's the Mazda3. I recently spent time in the fully redesigned 2019 Mazda3 and I'm back with a full report. 


The Mazda3 is arguably the best looking compact sedan sitting on car lots today, from its beautiful grille design up front, to curvy sides that seem to shape-shift, and a low-to-the ground design.

Mazdas tend to look best in red, in my humble opinion, and my test vehicle featured the stunning Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint scheme. It also featured 18-inch wheels and LED headlights and tail lights.

Mazda has long impressed with its interiors, and the 2019 Mazda3 is no exception. The contrasting white and black interior design instantly pleases the eye, and the seating is plush and comfortable, even on longer rides. If you opt for the Preferred or Premium trim level, you will get leather-wrapped sport seats. I would also argue that the interior is at a level seen on many luxury vehicles, which few non-luxury rides can claim.

The only complaint I have about the interior of the Mazda3 is the back seat, which is close to unusable when tall people are up front. This is a problem typical of compact sedans, and not unique to Mazda, but it’s worth noting that unless your driver and passenger are very short, this is essentially a two-seater. On the plus side, trunk space is somewhat impressive for the segment.


The 2019 Mazda3 is powered by a 2.5-liter, four cylinder engine; which can be paired with either an automatic or manual transmission (something that will please the manual-or-bust crowd). Numbers on the engine are an impressive 186 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft. of torque.

Getting to the heart of the matter, Mazda's biggest argument over the competition has nothing to do with looks. It's all about performance.

Driving the Mazda3 is a joy, especially in Sport mode, due to Mazda's dedication to designing a vehicle driving enthusiasts can love. Considering the reality that almost no one else in the segment thinks this way, the Mazda3 stands out as a unicorn — A sedan that you’ll look forward to driving.

Launch from a stop is quite impressive (0-to-60 in roughly 7 seconds), and overall handling and responsiveness to driver input is without question at the top of the class. Most of the Mazda3's competition will get you where you’re going comfortably, and sell mostly due to name recognition. But the Mazda3 will sell because buyers love the driving experience it offers.

One major bonus for the Mazda3 is it now comes offered in AWD, in addition to the standard FWD, for both its sedan and hatchback editions. Of all the players in the compact sedan category, the only ones who offer AWD are Subaru (Impreza) and Volkswagen (Golf), but overall those vehicles don’t measure up to the Mazda3 based on my experiences.


The Mazda’s Infotainment system, featuring an 8.8-inch display, controlled via a dial and some buttons on the center console, is somewhat easy to use, but not the most user-friendly in its class, and definitely takes some getting used to.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both optional features, and you can choose to add a navigation system, as well as a 12-speaker Bose stereo system.

Among the safety features offered on the Mazda3 are: Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Lane Departure Warning System and Lane Keep Assist, as well as  Heads-up Display. For this class of vehicle, that’s an impressive lineup of offerings.

This is one area where the Mazda3 falls behind its competition a bit. Official fuel mileage numbers on the 2019 Mazda3 sedan are 27 city/36 highway/30 combined. But my real world testing was far below those numbers, as I averaged about 23 mpg, but I was staying in sport mode most of the time and not aiming for maximum fuel mileage.

The catch, though, is that people buying a Mazda3 are more likely to be interested in the quality of the ride being the deciding factor, not MPG, so this may not disqualify too many buyers.

The 2019 Mazda3 I tested was priced just under $28,000, and the base price for the Mazda3 starts about $21K. This range is roughly on par with much of the competition in terms of pricing. It’s a bit higher priced than some, but you’ll feel the difference when you drive and understand why.

Not all sedans lack personality, and the Mazda3 stands out in the class with its distinctive design and responsive ride. If you love to drive and are looking for a smaller sedan, the Mazda3 is the vehicle made just for you.

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Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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