First drive: Mazda3 2019 review

Front side view of a red Mazda3 2019 hatch parked at a marina

Tim Nicholson

Posted April 13, 2019


Tim Nicholson meets the refined new 2019 Mazda3 hatch. 

First impressions:
The new Mazda3 has a level of refinement usually reserved for pricier German premium small cars.

Over three generations, the Mazda3 small hatch and sedan has found a place among Australia’s favourite cars. In fact, it was the top-selling model in 2011 and 2012, toppling the previously unshakeable Holden Commodore.

For its fourth generation, the Mazda3 heads into semi-premium territory, with the company promising a level of refinement not seen in the small-car segment.

Pricing has increased for the all-new model, with the $24,990 (plus on-road costs) starting price representing a $4500 jump over the previous entry-level variant. Mazda is not offering a circa-$20,000 base-model grade this time around as it says buyers tend to opt for higher-specification versions of the car. Mazda says the price increase is justified by a significant boost in standard specification and safety equipment which equates to about $4000 worth of extras.

 

The new Mazda3 gains a clean exterior design with no character lines. The hatch, with its sloping roofline and pert behind, has a sportier look, while the sedan – which will arrive mid-year – has a more mature design.

The overall look inside is modern and clean, with the only buttons on the centre stack reserved for the air-conditioning. The new Mazda Connect infotainment system features improved functionality and simplified graphics and displays on the sleek 8.8-inch screen. Operated by a central controller rather than a touchscreen, it’s an exceptional example of an in-car infotainment system, but for those who prefer their own phone platforms, all Mazda3 variants are offered with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

The second row is a touch dark due to the swept-up window line and small rear window. These elements also make for blind spots, as does the massive B-pillar, meaning the blind-spot monitor, reversing camera and parking sensors come in handy.

 

Rear view of a red Mazda3 2019 hatch parked at a marina

 

The use of quality soft-touch materials, the focus on the driver, the simplicity of the controls and the comfortable seats have lifted the Mazda3’s interior to best-in-class status.

We sampled two versions of the new Mazda3 at the media launch on the New South Wales Central Coast – the $27,690 G20 Evolve that uses a 114kW/200Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder Skyactiv petrol engine, and the $37,990 G25 Astina with a 139kW/252Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, both paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

What is immediately noticeable is how much quieter the cabin is compared with the outgoing model. Mazda has fitted the new 3 – which is built on an all-new platform – with more sound-absorbing materials in the cabin, as well as making changes to the suspension and the body to help quell noise, and it’s a job well done.

 

On the road, the 2.0-litre engine in the G20 is a little underpowered from take-off but is a fine performer around town. The 2.5-litre unit has more punch and while it is not as swift as a turbocharged engine, the performance improves as the revs get higher, ensuring it is the pick of the Mazda3 powertrains.

Steering is perfectly weighted and sharp and the new suspension set-up, combined with the new tyres designed specifically for the Mazda3, ensure it is an engaging and capable handler, while still offering near class-leading ride comfort.

 

Mazda3 G20 Evolve hatch

Mazda3 G25 Astina hatch

Price

Price as tested: $27,690 plus $4000 on-road costs (estimated).
Model range: $24,990-$37,990 plus on-road costs.

Price as tested: $37,990 plus $4000 on-road costs (estimated).
Model range: $24,990-$37,990 plus on-road costs.

Drivetrain

2.0-litre, six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive.
Power: 114kW.
Torque: 200Nm.
Tyres: 215/45R18.

2.5-litre, six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive.
Power: 139kW.
Torque: 252Nm.
Tyres: 215/45R18.

Fuel

Fuel: 91 RON petrol
Tank capacity: 51-litre tank
Government ADR: 6.2L/100km (government test)
CO2 emissions: 146g/km

Fuel: 91 RON petrol
Tank capacity: 51-litre tank
Government ADR: 6.6L/100km (government test)
CO2 emissions: 154g/km

Standard safety

Driver-attention alert, seven airbags, lane-keep assist, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, reversing camera, rear parking sensors.

(Safety features additional to the G20 Evolve)
Cruising and traffic support, front cross-traffic alert, driver monitoring, front parking sensors, 360-degree monitor.

Standard features

8.8-inch colour infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, eight-speaker audio, dual-zone climate control, auto-folding exterior mirrors, leather-wrapped gear shifter and steering wheel.

(Standard features additional to the G20 Evolve)
Illuminated vanity mirrors, 12-speaker Bose audio, heated exterior mirrors, sunroof, sunglasses holder.

Warranty/services

Five years/unlimited kilometres.
Capped-price servicing every 10,000km or 12 months.

Five years/unlimited kilometres.
Capped-price servicing every 10,000km or 12 months.


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