If the last time you looked at the Mazda Mazda3 AWD was when they offered the MazdaSpeed3, please come back for a second look. We think you’ll like what you see, with a caveat or two. Oh, and did we mention it has AWD, too?
Previously, the MazdaSpeed3 included tons of Mazda’s trademark Zoom-Zoom magic inside. If you were expecting to find that here, the good news is nothing’s changed. After a 2019 model year design change, the Mazda3 is now available as a five-door hatchback or a four-door sedan, both with standard front-wheel-drive. Napleton.news had a chance to test the hatchback, equipped as the all-wheel-drive (AWD) Premium model. The new Mazda3 is available in three trim levels starting with base Hatchback, Preferred and Premium package trim levels.
WHAT’S NEW WITH THE MAZDA3?
In a phrase, almost everything. The latest Mazda3 features an updated version of its award-winning 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is the same as the four-banger found in the Mazda6. Here, it pumps out 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque and offers cylinder deactivation (CDA) that shuts down two of the engine’s four cylinders for added fuel economy. That power travels to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. For those enthusiast Zoom-Zoom type drivers, Mazda offers the Mazda3 Premium with an optional 6-speed manual transmission, too.
The engine runs fine on regular unleaded fuel and features advanced direct injection. Classing up the joint, the Mazda3 now includes Skyactiv-Vehicle Dynamics with adaptive cruise control that will take the car down to a full stop before starting up again. G-Vectoring Control Plus is also onboard, which provides more car control overall, including torque vectoring, which helps to guide the “3” through turns faster by briefly powering down, and then applying brakes to shift weight and vehicle dynamics at the outside of the vehicle. It’s one of our favorite features…on any car.
AN EXTERIOR WALK AROUND
Available in two flavors ranging from five-door hatchback and 4-door sedan, the new Mazda3 is a stylishly rounded vehicle that features the Mazda design studio’s Kodo: Soul of Motion design language. The company calls it Beauty Through Subtraction. We think it’s subtly lush. But-there is the matter of a thickish C-Pillar. Rely on the i-Activesense blind-spot indicator warning lights to let you know if there are other vehicles where you were unable to see them.
At the very front of the Mazda3 is a new, elegant mesh grille that holds the floating Mazda logo. It is flanked by slitty adaptable LED headlamps that turn as you turn to light your way around the corner. We were taken by the smoothly elevating shapes that led to the rear quarter panels. To us, they are shapes because there were almost no lines at all on the vehicle. Instead, what we had was a smooth fluid motion from front to rear.
We’ve spent some time inside the new Mazda3 and all we can say is wow, what a difference a model changeover makes! The interior of the new “3” has undergone a top to bottom reimagining, which clearly shows that Mazda, like George and Louise Jefferson of “The Jeffersons” sitcom fame, is “Movin’ on Up!” It’s evident with the attention to detail now visible throughout the vehicle.
Fine stitched leather, nicely-bolstered seating, and more upscale knobs and controls all give off an air of luxury that is refreshing to see in a car at this price point. Controls are much more refined than in the past, as is the Bose 12 speaker premium audio system and the 8.8-inch touchscreen display console that no longer looks like an iPad glued to the dash. Instead, we have a quiet, elegant interior with all the features you would find in a vehicle costing thousands more. By the numbers, there is 20 cubic feet of cargo space in the hatchback area, which expands when you fold the rear seats forward.
MAKING MORE WITH LESS
Every bit of Zoom-Zoom remains, but this time in a more efficient fashion. For example, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine now utilizes cylinder deactivation (CDA) to help with fuel economy. The 2.5 offers adequate pickup, but being a hoonigan, we would never turn our nose up at more. And as an aside, the turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter engine found in the Mazda6 Turbo fits inside the Mazda3, as well.
We found the interior of the Mazda3 to be comfortable and inviting, able to keep us fatigue-free during long-haul trips. We weren’t expecting the Mazda3 Hatchback to be so quiet inside.
BEHIND THE WHEEL OF THE MAZDA3
The power from the four-cylinder engine got us where we wanted to be in a rapid manner. We saw no issues while entering highways, and considered merging into high-speed traffic, a breeze.
The new all-wheel-drive system in the Mazda3 is the same unit as found in the CX5 SUV. It now features new algorithms to help tailor the “3’s” front to rear torque bias. Unlike AWD systems found in other brand’s vehicles, Mazda chose to take a different route in designing this AWD system. While powering through the turn, the rear axle of the car is “decoupled” to prevent extra drag while negotiating a turn. After completing the turn, the rear axle re-engages and power returns to the rear wheels.
Through these and other features, Mazda has once again shown themselves to be the little company that could and did. Stop in at Napleton’s Mazda of Urbana and talk to our Mazda3 experts today. They can help you find the “3” of your dreams.