The Mazda3 — Anyone that has been paying attention to baseball contracts lately probably knows the value of a home run. Manny Machado got ten years and a cool $300 million, while thirteen years and $330 million dollars went to Bryce Harper, and then Mike Trout, mic-draped it all, ending up with a ridiculous 12 year $430 million dollar deal. The funny part about this group of lottery winners is that despite their contracts being knocked clear out of the park, none of them ever actually lead the league in literal home runs. But all of these guys are exceptional at doing everything significantly above average — hitting, fielding, offense, defense, you name it. So maybe there is a lesson to be learned here.
Back in 2003 Mazda introduced us to the Mazda3 — a stout, nimble, attractive and affordable coupe or sedan that caught our attention. No, it was not quite the fastest coupe around, nor was it the most agile around a skidpad. It didn’t get the absolute best fuel mileage compared to some of its lighter and lesser-powered foes, and no it wasn’t knock-out gorgeous type either. But, what it did have, was just enough of all of those things — looks, power, agility, affordability, fuel economy that combined in a synergistic way that made it more than just the sum of its parts.
Fast forward nearly two decades, and new for 2019 is the latest and greatest Mazda3 sedan. This pocket dynamo has done wonders to improve its somewhat harsh suspension issues from years gone by. Mazda still relies on a twist-beam suspension setup rather than the more complex multilink rear suspensions found in many of its predecessors. The company believes that the more simplistic suspension allows greater control over unwanted bushing movement, thus creating a more stable and calm environment from inside the car. So far, we have yet to find anything to disagree with.
New for 2019 (and the 3 in general) will be an all-wheel drive option, which places a not-subtle dead-aim at the Audi A3. Powering that choice of AWD or traditional FWD will be a familiar DOHC 2.5-liter inline-4 that produces a moderate 186-horsepower and matching 186 lb-ft of torque. That power is routed through your choice of 6-speed automatic or more exciting 6-speed manual transmission. A manual trans is a great option to have when you’re also targeting the auto-only Mercedes CLA. If someone wants to shift their own gears, sorry Merc, you just struck out.
Inside the Mazda3, there is a fairly apparent attention to detail that drives the Mazda a bit more upmarket than expected. The 8.8-inch infotainment screen is angled towards the driver from high atop the center dash, and is controlled by the master command knob just aft of the gear selector on the center console, which mimics most BMW setups rather nicely. The leather on the seats feels expensive, and even the knobs and buttons have a weighted feel to them, which is by design. Those little, often overlooked details can sometimes make an expensive car feel cheap, in this case, it’s the opposite that is true.
The Mazda3 sedan, despite being a sedan, only weighs in at around 3,000 pounds give or take a few peanuts and Crackerjacks, depending on which drivetrain you choose. That low weight and smallish motor help propel the 3 to very impressive fuel economy numbers — 27/36/30 city/highway/combined, make for fairly cheap commute.
The 2019 Mazda3 sedan isn’t the bell of the ball, and won’t blow you away with any one thing. But with great fuel mileage, four-doors plus a hatchback, all-wheel drive (potentially), a real-live six-speed manual transmission, enough power to get from 0-60 mph in as little as 7.3 seconds, and all for a base price of only $19,500? No, each one of those things isn’t a home run on its own, but when they all combine as a team, we’d have to say that Mazda knocked this one out of the park.