In the US market, Mazda’s compact cars have always been somewhat hidden gems. The Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic have always been more popular but not necessarily better. The current Mazda3 can trace it’s lineage back to the Familia lineup of the early 1960’s. Earlier models in the US were dubbed GLC (great little car). However, most US buyers wouldn’t become familiar with the Familia until the 1980’s with the Mazda 323. The Mazda 323 later became the Protégé and then eventually the Mazda3 or Axela in less important parts of the world. Since it was introduced in 2003 Mazda has sold over six million 3’s and regardless of continued competition from Honda and Toyota, Mazda hopes to continue its quiet success with an all new model.
Improving on its Kodo design language, the Mazda3 has an engaging and sharp profile and is based on the Skyactiv platform. Two body styles are available, a hatchback and sedan. Mazda made it a point to give each their own character. Hatchback models pull heavily from the Kai Concept and the Sedan has a more grown up design that is akin to a smaller and sportier Mazda6.
The interior has a very clean and minimalist design. The Mazda Connect interface can be monitored through the 8.8-inch touchscreen and controlled by a physical knob. In order to improve noise levels, Mazda has also added additional sound insulation.
Although Mazda plans to continue production of the current 2.5 in the new Mazda3, an all-new 2.0 liter Skyactiv-X four-cylinder engine will be an option. The Skyactiv-X will likely produce somewhere in the range of 190 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. The engine is both supercharged and combined with a mild hybrid system. Both a six-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmission will be available.
The Platform has 30 percent high-strength steel for better rigidity and endurance during a crash. In a pretty significant move, all-wheel drive will be offered as an option. That is one option you can’t get with a Civic or Corolla. Although there are rumors that Toyota may be considering it in the new 2020 Corolla.
The 2019 Mazda3 includes Mazda’s i-Activesense suite. This includes driver attentiveness monitoring and semi-autonomous cruise, which will accelerate, brake, and steer in traffic.