Pros-Racy styling. Upscale interior. More power. Supple suspension. Sharp handling. Good acceleration. Decent economy. AWD.
Cons-Confusing console knob controller. High widow line. Narrow rear door openings.
Bottom Line-A top, upscale compact hatchback AWD sedan.
The 2019 Mazda3 AWD compact hatchback sedan has undergone a mid-cycle changes involving such things as a more-powerful engine. It puts the top-line Premium model squarely against rivals such as Audi.
While other automakers are abandoning sedans in factor of crossovers and SUVs, Mazda says to hell with that and has come up with stylish, sporty sedans such as the Mazda3 AWD hatchback.
The $28,900 Mazda3 AWD with the Premium package is 9.7 inches shorter than the Mazda3 sedan at 175.6 inches and thus is easier to park and looks racier. There's plenty of room up front where there are wide-opening doors. Two tall adults can get comfortable in the rear although more leg room would be appreciated by a tall passenger behind a driver who shoves his seat all the way back.
The rakish styling involves a sloping roofline and rather narrow rear door openings so adults can't just slide into the rear seat as gracefully as they might like. A high window line might make shorter rear occupants feel a bit buried. The hatch opens easily on struts and has a large window, but the styling creates rear blind spots, so the outside mirrors and such standard features as blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are appreciated.
Chromed dual exhaust outlets and optional black finish alloy wheels nicely accompany the car's sporty styling.
The cargo area swallows a good amount of stuff, and split folding 60/40 rear seat backs, which sit flat, greatly expand cargo room.
The nicely built Mazda3 AWD hatchback has an upscale look. It also has soft-touch materials, nice stitching throughout, many storage areas, easily read instruments, dual-zone automatic climate controls, 8-inch color display, premium audio system with 12 speakers, Android Auto with Apple CarCarPlay, cruise control, pushbutton start, supportive power driver's seat, heated front seats and a sliding front armrest covering a deep console bin.
There's also a rearview camera and fold-down center rear armrest with dual cupholders. The optional Premium package adds such items as an active driving display, leather seats, paddle shifters and a sliding glass moonroof. A wireless charging pad also is optional.
With all the extras, my test car's bottom line price was $31,450, including a delivery charge. Still, the fully loaded car's price undercuts that of some rivals.
However, the parking brake is awkward to use, and the single console knob controller for such things as music, navigation another controls calls for overly complicated operation. For instance, it took me a bunch of steps with the controller just together the music station I wanted.
The interior is quiet except for some road and tire noise, and the AWD system makes this Mazda a genuine all-weather driver's car.
The Mazda3 AWD has a refined, sophisicated 2.5-llter engine with 186 horsepower and 186 pound/feet if torque, It works with a responsive 6-speed automatic transmission with a sharp-acting manual shift feature via steering wheel paddle controls. The 0-60 m.p.h. time is 7 seconds and highway passing is no problem. A driver can use a console switch to move from a regular driving mode to a "sport" mode," which causes the car to be a little more responsive without causing such things as an overly stiff ride.
Estimated fuel economy is 24 miles per gallon in the city and 32 on highways. Only 87-octane is needed.
The rather firm ride is supple, although sharp bumps on rough roads can be felt. Steering is quick and precise, and handling is spirited, helped by the excellent AWD system, nicely designed suspension and dynamic stability and traction control systems. The brake pedal has a linear action and controls four-when disc anti-lock brakes with "smart" brake support.
Safety features include radar cruise control with "stop and go," advanced smart-city brake support, lane departure warning and lane-keep assist.. There's also front and side-impact air bags and front and rear side air curtains.
Mazda is a relatively small automaker, but it's been around a long time and probably is best known by many for its Miata sports car. It's a good idea to give the revised 2019 Mazda3 AWD a shot, especially with the Premium package.