Here at Roadshow, we've always liked the Mazda3. With its focus on great driving dynamics, Mazda's compact hatchback has long held a place in the hearts of many car enthusiasts. And with its standout design, it certainly makes a statement on the road.
That's truer now than it's ever been. The Mazda3 got a major overhaul for the 2019 model year, and we have to say, it's quite a looker. But now that great style is backed up with some serious substance, and the Mazda3 offers a level of driving refinement and interior luxury that you'd be hard pressed to find elsewhere in the compact class. Of course, that's not without a few, small tradeoffs.
Powertrain and specs
All Mazda3 models come with the same engine: A 2.5-liter, naturally aspirated I4, part of Mazda's "Skyactiv-G" family of gasoline powerplants. This engine produces 186 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, and can be mated to either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission, depending on model.
In its most efficient form -- under the hood of a Mazda3 sedan with cylinder-deactivation technology -- the 2.5-liter engine is estimated to achieve 27 miles per gallon in the city, 36 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined, with front-wheel drive. Without cylinder-deactivation tech, those numbers drop to 26 city and 35 highway, though the 30-mpg combined rating remains. Sedans with the manual transmission also earn EPA-estimated ratings of 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined.
The Mazda3 hatchback is rated at 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and cylinder deactivation. With the manual transmission, those numbers drop to 25 city, 35 highway and 29 combined.
The Mazda3 is one of the few cars in this class available with all-wheel drive. Both sedan and hatchback body styles can be ordered with this foul-weather-friendly driveline, though fuel economy takes a small hit. The AWD sedan is rated at 25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined, while the AWD hatch does slightly worse, at 24 city, 32 highway and 27 combined.
On the road, we appreciate the Mazda3 for its general feeling of lightness, nicely balanced chassis and excellent steering feel. If you're looking for the driver's car of the compact segment, this is it.
The Mazda3's interior carries over with no changes for 2020, because the car was fully updated for the 2019 model year. Both cloth and leather seating options are offered, in a variety of colors. Standard interior amenities include push-button start, an electronic parking brake, 60/40 split rear seats, air conditioning, two USB ports and an eight-speaker sound system. Optional interior features include dual-zone automatic climate control, power seats, heated seats and a power moonroof.
While all Mazda3 models seat five passengers, the rear seats are slightly less spacious than competitors like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. For cargo space, the sedan has 13.2 cubic feet of space in its traditional trunk, while the hatchback offers 20.1 cubic feet behind the rear seats. The Mazda's swoopy styling certainly takes its toll on interior space.
Every 2020 Mazda3 comes standard with an 8.8-inch Mazda Connect infotainment system, which is set back on the dashboard and controlled by a large central knob and arrangement of shortcut buttons on the center console.and are available on all but the base Mazda3 sedan trim.
For 2020, Mazda's i-Activsense suite of driver-assistance tech is standard across the board. This means all models get an attention alert function, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist.
Because of the new safety equipment, the 2020 Mazda3 sedan's starting price increases by $500 over the 2019 model, to $22,420, including $920 for destination. If you want an all-wheel drive, be prepared to pay at least $25,020. Sedan models are only available with the six-speed automatic transmission.
The base Mazda3 hatchback comes in at $24,620, again including destination. All-wheel-drive models start at $26,020. The six-speed manual transmission is only available on the front-wheel-drive Preferred trim, which starts at $28,420. All in, a top-end Mazda3 Premium AWD hatchback carries a $29,820 MSRP.
The 2020 Mazda3 is available nationwide now.