Stick Shift: 2019 Mazda 3 Hatchback

The Mazda 3 has always been an affordable, fun sedan. Full of character and overflowing with value. It has a lively chassis and sharp interior. Making a straight-forward attempt at standing out from the crowd, in a way that’s playful, polished and still completely affordable. Good as it is, 2019 has ushered in a major redesign as part of the fourth generation of the popular Mazda 3. 

In the looks department, the once innocent looking Mazda 3 has shed every feature that made it blend into the crowd. With tightened lines and aggressive styling, the new Mazda 3 showcases what Mazda states, is the latest interpretations of its “Kodo design” from the 2017 Vision Concept. Parts of it are so edgy and progressive that it does feel borderline conceptual. In hatchback form, a long nose and short deck give it that sport compact profile. A large grille with sharp, slanted headlights and 18” wheels round-off the new look wonderfully. 

Photo via: Mazda

On the inside, the design direction is functional, direct and refined beyond its price tag. Soft-touch plastics and leatherette is used extensively. Harder plastics are more difficult to find, but when found, are decorated  with aluminum or piano-black trim pieces. In Premium form, the hatchback offers black, or a new red interior color that looks upscale and incredibly sporty. 

The infotainment system is revamped for 2019. The 8.8” color display is cleanly integrated into the dashboard and located directly in the driver’s line of sight, to make it easy to see with just a quick glance. Controlling the system is done with the simple use of a large knob located near the shifter. The knob is easy to use and the whole set-up seems to have been designed to minimize distraction to the driver. 

Photo via: Mazda

Built around the driver, the Mazda 3 cockpit is clean, simplistic and upscale for its price-point. Seats are extremely comfortable up front, but a little tight in the back. Trunk space is ample with the hatchback design. The chassis remains lively and engaging as ever. The 2.5L Skyactive 4-cylinder engine could use some extra power though. Just to get the Mazda 3 up to speed. 

Some clear areas of opportunity can be found in the Mazda 3. Better acceleration out-of-the-box by itself would make a big difference. However, the latest version of the popular 3 is it’s best one yet. Sharp, conceptual styling with a nimble chassis and refined interior make it a hard car to pass up for the price. The hatchback style only adds to its character and charm.

Price as tested: $31,930.00

By: Brandon Randall 

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