The 2019 Mazda3 Hatchback is quite simply one of the best cars I've ever driven. During my week with one, specifically a range-topping Premium package version for $31,335, I struggled to come up with bad things to say apart from elements like rear visibility and back seat headroom that are directly related to its distinctive, avant garde design. That's an acceptable tradeoff in my book. So many of the new 3's elements can serve as a measuring stick for other cars. Not just its specific compact hatchback/sedan class, but all other cars, period. I had the Mercedes CLS 450 at the exact time, a car I deeply appreciate and that cost $69,000 more, and yet it was a struggle to decide which I wanted to drive. Perhaps not surprising given the 3's history, but the measuring stick is set first by the handling. It dances between corners with composure and feedback that you just don't get in cars any more – let alone at this price point. This is a car you feel through your butt, your heels on the floor and your hands on the wheel. Everything is just so right. And it should be noted that I came to this conclusion before remembering that Mazda switched to a cheaper, less sophisticated torsion beam rear suspension for this latest model. Perhaps you can tell the difference driving 10/10ths at a test track, but in the real world, I certainly didn't notice or log a complaint. Grip is superb. Even when the tires gave way a bit on my mountain road evaluation route, there was only a bit of squealing and it resolutely whipped itself through hairpins with shockingly little understeer for a front-drive-based car, helped no doubt by its all-wheel drive system. It would be interesting to see how much understeer the front-drive versions allow, and whether AWD is mitigating torque steer given the 3's not-insignificant power. As it is, the 3's standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder produces 186 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, which is substantially better than virtually every other base engine in the segment. Its throttle response should be copied by everyone, as should the steering. OK, maybe not Porsche, which I keep finding myself drawing comparisons to whenever experiencing a new Mazda. Take that as the compliment it seems to be. I'd also like to note that the 3 has a six-speed automatic transmission rather than an easily confused eight-, nine- or eleventy-speed unit. Or a damn CVT. Although it's actually quite the clever bit of engineering as described in this handy video, for all intents and purposes, it has six gears in a transmission that seems to know exactly which gear to select at any given time. It even has a regular PRND shifter, not some new-fangled method that's different for the sake of being different. When zipping along my evaluation route, it smartly stayed in third gear rather than selecting a higher fuel-saving one. It knew what was up. Meanwhile, when in Sport mode, …
Hide Full Review
Smart Buy Price
|MPG||24 City / 32 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||186 @ 6000 rpm|
Get a surprisingly great rate
It's like a new car for the price of a clunker. Switch & save an average of $587* on car insurance.