The latest Mazda C-Segment saloon is a glimpse of what is to come from the company in the near future. But can the new Mazda 3 justify its hefty price tag?
Mazda, the lovable and quirky automaker has decided that it too has to ascent with the big players. While the jump is not immediate, the 2019 Mazda 3 Skyactiv G Sedan High Plus is setting the tone of where the company is heading towards. In this review, we take a closer look at the changes made to make its C-Segment contender not only a worth-while car to drive, but witnessing the brand’s ascension in to the premium market.
What is it?
New direction, fresh new look. The Mazda 3 has taken on the new Kodo design direction like on the CX-5 and CX-8, which gives it a much sharper yet elegant vibe. Mazda’s latest C-Segment saloon is the first to receive the company’s new take to interior design, especially the trapezoid shaped 8.8-inch infotainment display.
Dimensions wise, the new version is 10 mm lower (1,435 mm), 80 mm more in length (4,460 mm) and 26 mm longer wheelbase (2,725 mm). Overall width remains at 1795 mm.
The top-range Mazda 3 Skyactiv G Sedan High Plus comes with LED lighting front and rear. Also, it is the only non-premium car to have windshield wipers with build-in washers.
What is it like?
Inside, there are soft-touch surfaces that feels very plush. Mazda has made the driver-focused concept quite starkly in the new 3, even the 8.8-inch screen is positioned facing the driver more than the passenger. Also, it is not a touchscreen.
In terms of usability and ease of use, the Mazda 3’s ergonomics is spot on. The dashboard layout is simple; the dual-zone climate control interface is within arms reach while the multi function Commander Control is easy to learn and memorise.
The instrument cluster now features a seven-inch TFT colour multi info display which shows travelling speed, the blind spot monitoring and other vehicle related information, except infotainment and telephony functions.
The new Mazda Connect Infotainment system has a clean and straight forward user interface. It has AppleCarPlay and Android Auto which integrates with your smartphone to the car and can be operated via the Commander Control. One of the big highlight in the range-topper is the eight-speaker system delivers better-than-expected sound quality which is comparable to that in the Mini Countryman.
The front seats in the top-spec Mazda 3 Sedan as tested comes with a 10-way power adjustable driver seat with 2 memory presets and a mechanically adjustable passenger seat. These seats are comfortable with adequate lateral support. However, the seats feel narrow at the shoulders. And the multi function steering wheel feels good in the palms, with many of the buttons and switches provide good tactile feedback.
At the rear, the Mazda 3 Sedan sits two adults comfortably. There’s adequate room for the feet and knees as well as for the head. There is a fordable centre armrest for added comfort. Much of a gold standard these days, the rear seats have ISOFIX guide rails for compatible child seats. There’s also air vents for the rear compartment but no control of temperature.
The Sedan Mazda 3’s boot capacity measures in at 444-litres, while folding the rear 60:40 seats down flat unleashes more.
NVH and refinement is a focus in the new Mazda 3 where many of the improvements can be experienced. It doesn’t take much persuasion to progressively pick up speed, which makes it feel like driving a bigger car. There is a sense of isolation from the outside world below 140 km/h. Though the engine noise does become louder at 5,000 rpm.
Under the hood is a Mazda Skyactiv-G 2.0-litre petrol engine which makes 160 bhp at 6,000 rpm and 213 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. Mated to it is a six-speed automatic transmission with manual override.
The Mazda 3 Sedan drives well, the driver’s line of sight is unobstructed especially at the corner ends of the front door windows. The HUD now has a wider angle of adjustability which the whole projection can be seen even when sitting down low.
Handling wise is to be expected from a Mazda; it is stable with a neutral balance thanks to the Mazda G-Vectoring Control Plus Technology (GVC Plus). The steering feels nicely weighted albeit lacking feel.
All is good but there are some downsides; the interior still has the same Mazda vibe in the previous model and while the climate control dials may look premium, but doesn’t feel the part due to the same plastics and pleathers used.
Should I buy one?
The Mazda 3, especially in the top spec trim does feel and drive like a car from the upper segment. That said you’ll get Mazda 6 refinement and does feel the part through your bodily senses. The much-improved ride comfort and isolation does justify the hefty price tag, but there are still room for improvement.
Tester’s Note: With the much improved NVH and driving experience we are giving the Mazda 3 Sedan 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Engine 4-cyl, 1,998 cc, naturally-aspirated, petrol
Power 160 bhp at 6,000 rpm
Torque 213 Nm at 4,000 rpm
Gearbox 6-spd conventional automatic
Kerb weight 1,338kg
Top speed NA
Fuel Consumption 16.4 km/l (6.09 L/100km) Combined, tested.
Rivals Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla Altis, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Cerato