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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Reader Services
11/20/19 9:47 a.m.
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The Mazda3 has been the go-to fun, practical small car since its earliest days. Still available as a hatchback or sedan, the spec sheet for this newest iteration—unveiled just last year—looks promising. Most notable is the addition of an all-wheel-drive option, with Mazda’s “G-Vectoring Control Plus” distributing power between the front and rear wheels as it sees fit.

 

Of course, while the powerplant isn’t the groundbreaking compression-ignition Skyactiv-X many have been waiting for, the numbers of the more-conventional Skyactiv-G are still impressive: 186 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft. of torque, with an easy-to-live-with 27 mpg combined.

 

Our loaner was a 2020 model equipped with the premium package and all-wheel drive, as well as exclusive “Machine Gray Metallic” paint (a $300 option), bringing the total to $29,200.

 

 

 

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RustBeltSherpa
RustBeltSherpa New Reader
11/20/19 12:02 p.m.

I wonder if Mazda's move upscale is working against them in the short term. As the owner of a 2013 CX-5(Sport- 6speed manual) and a 1991 Miata, I'm sold on Mazda's sportiness factor. But; if in the market for a 3, I'd be looking for a gently used 2016-18 Sport with a manual and 2.0 engine.

aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
11/20/19 12:53 p.m.

The wife recently sold her MazdaSpeed 3.  We looked at the new 3.... nope.  Obviously not as sporty, manuals not available in all trim level, auto was not really impressive power wise and very bad rear visibility.

Mazda looses a long time customer (B2000 to Miata to Speed3).  You used to be able to depend on Mazda for a certain type of car / driving experience, not sure that is true anymore (perhaps it's the buying public that is no longer responding to it).

Nutsid
Nutsid New Reader
11/20/19 12:57 p.m.

In reply to RustBeltSherpa :

I have owned at least one Mazda since I was 17 - I am 35 now - until now. I traveled the country in an NB Miata and when I was done had decided I was moving across the country. I was trading the Miata in on something with space. The problem was, I needed something that would fill the itch the Miata filled. The only cars that fit the bill was a GTI and a Velostar. I went with the GTI because of the styling. I really wasn't ready to leave Mazda behind so I drove a 3 hatch, but before I even got out of the parking lot of the dealership I was over it. It wasn't going to be sporty enough. While the GTI doesn't fit the Miata's shoes entirely, it fits exactly what I needed my car to be. Currently, the only car Mazda has to offer that appeals to me is the ND, and that obviously can't haul anything around anywhere.

List of previously owned Mazdas:

2017 CX5

2012 3 hatch

2010 3 hatch

2004 Rx8

2004 Miata

1992 Miata

1989 Rx7

1985 Rx7

1984 Rx7

1983 Rx7

 

Now I find myself looking at other brands for what I need out of a car.

chuyler2
chuyler2 New Reader
11/20/19 2:49 p.m.

Mazda used to treat it's enthusiast customers well.  I ordered a Protege5 fully loaded with a stick shift back in 2003.  In 2007 I picked up a Mazdaspeed6 fully loaded (only came in stick).  By the time I was ready for something new they offered nothing but base trim vehicles with stick shift.  I bought a Jeep instead.  My wife is due for a new car, she drives stick also.  The Mazda3 would be at the top of her list if it came in AWD with a stick.  It doesn't.  So I'm having trouble getting her to even test drive it.

Dave M
Dave M HalfDork
11/20/19 5:53 p.m.
RustBeltSherpa said:

I wonder if Mazda's move upscale is working against them in the short term. As the owner of a 2013 CX-5(Sport- 6speed manual) and a 1991 Miata, I'm sold on Mazda's sportiness factor. But; if in the market for a 3, I'd be looking for a gently used 2016-18 Sport with a manual and 2.0 engine.

It's like Kia selling the Stinger: if your dealership experience is half a step up from buy here, pay here, you're going to have a lot of trouble moving upscale. Mazda dealers by me are uniformly scummy. Good luck!

gardnpc
gardnpc New Reader
11/20/19 6:53 p.m.

I hope the buying public doesn't give up on Mazda.  It's the poor man's BMW, although that can be debated.  Mazda has a unique tradition of giving us affordable cars that are great driver's cars.  I'd much rather have a Mazda than a Toyota or Honda.  My question...when will Mazda turbo their line of cars to give us the hp we need????

wrenchklutz
wrenchklutz New Reader
11/20/19 7:18 p.m.

We just bought a Mazda3 with the premium package a month ago.  Unlike most of the previous posters, we have loved the car.  It doesn't make a big deal out of handling, it just goes where you think it should go, no muss, no fuss, no lean.  The chassis feels like it's carved out of a solid block of aluminum.  Suspension components are a bit on the snug side compared to most everything else I've driven lately, which is fine with me.  Sport mode kicks things up a notch.  Comfortable, high-quality interior.  Yes, it has an auto, but it's a good one, and if I want to row gears, there's always the Alfa.  And the dealer's service department has been great about customer service.  The only bad thing is that two of the tires (Toyo's) were out of round and were replaced under warranty. Regarding marketing, where does Mazda advertise these days?  I see constant ads for Nissan, Toyota, Kia, Ford, Chevy, and Ram on the tube.  No Mazda.  If you want to sell, you gotta tell people what you're offering.

CyberEric
CyberEric HalfDork
11/20/19 8:24 p.m.

Mazda has been getting ripped in a fair number of the reviews I’ve read of this new 3. 

A few years ago they were winning every comparison with every model in C&D.

I haven’t driven the new car, so I’ll reserve judgement, but from the sidelines I’m concerned we are losing a good driver’s car, and car company.

That said, I wonder if this is more of the change in image than any thing else. The Cx-5, 9, and 6 (and Miata of course) are all pretty much the drivers choice in their categories, Again just what I see in the media. And there have been some good reviews of the new 3 too. Speed hunters (I think) did a track session w the AWD and were quite positive about it.

dxman92
dxman92 HalfDork
11/20/19 10:10 p.m.

I'm not crazy about the fact that you have to pay almost $30k to get the manual box in the new 3 sedan. That said, I've owned a 6 speed manual CX-5 and I'd own another in a heartbeat.

_
_ Dork
11/21/19 12:12 p.m.

How's the auto? 

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
11/21/19 12:18 p.m.
_ said:

How's the auto? 

It's pretty good, but it's an economy car. So it's not like it's performance oriented like a DCT, but it does the job it needs to very well.

*I have an '18 Mazda 3 touring with the auto.

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
11/21/19 12:23 p.m.

It's funny how much that thing looks like a half-scale CX-9.  And from a distance, I can't tell a CX-5 from a CX-9, and I drive a CX-9!  I guess they pay their designers for one drawing, then use it to make all their cars.

_
_ Dork
11/21/19 1:14 p.m.

Smoking tire did a cx-3 auto drive. He seemed to be impressed by the shifts. I was too, and I wasn't even in the car. That's why I asked about the automatic. Seems like a great automatic if you have to have one. 

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
11/21/19 3:56 p.m.
_ said:

Smoking tire did a cx-3 auto drive. He seemed to be impressed by the shifts. I was too, and I wasn't even in the car. That's why I asked about the automatic. Seems like a great automatic if you have to have one. 

Yep. I have no complaints. And if you put it in "Sport" it does quicken the shifts and hold the gears longer. In the 'Normal" mode, the car is in a huge rush to get the lowest gear possible as quickly as possible.

CyberEric
CyberEric HalfDork
11/21/19 8:41 p.m.

In reply to _ :

I think the auto is great. Is it lightning fast with the paddle shifters? Not quite, but it’s pretty quick and in Sport mode it rev matches and engine brakes. 

What I like is you can be in Auto mode, and click the down shift paddle and it does it whenever you need some extra engine braking.

jwagner
jwagner New Reader
11/21/19 9:30 p.m.

I think JG nailed it:  It's a Junior Luxury Car that has lost it's edge.

I've got a first generation 3 and it reminds me a lot of my Miata - a buzzy 3500 RPM on the freeway and sharp handling in a four door package.

I had a 2nd generation 3 and it was a more civilized but still sporting and fun to drive.  Also faster with the 2.5L and 6 speed.

My girlfriend just replaced her crashed 3rd generation 3 and after driving the new one - $30K for an "upscale economy car" (a sunroof was a necessity) she bought a CX-5 for about the same price.  I hate SUVs but I couldn't disagree with her choice. 

The fourth gen car is a really nice ride, more sophisticated, more luxury, and unfortunately, not a 3 anymore.

YMMV

Dootz
Dootz Reader
11/25/19 4:10 a.m.

The pricing pretty much competes with the mid-size market - easy way to kill your compact car's sales.

Add in the fact that even the new Sentra is going to be coming in with IRS, and that's pretty much gameover for the Mazda3. Nice car, but what it has going for it is not what compact segment buyers are looking for.

killeen_john
killeen_john New Reader
3/1/20 10:55 a.m.

My wife noticed that new 2019 Mazda3 hatchbacks with AWD are available for $17,558 and seems like a lot of car for the price.  My 2007 Mazda3 has been great so, another Mazda3 is appealing but, I'm very concerned with the cylinder deactivation.  Anyone willing to share longer term ownership experience with this new model?

https://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/773305777/overview/

_
_ Dork
3/1/20 6:54 p.m.

In reply to killeen_john :

What is to be concerned about?

Vigo
Vigo MegaDork
3/1/20 9:42 p.m.

For me, Mazda suffers from my high expectations. Lately they always seem to be able to and close to  making something awesome and end up making something... good. Which is fine, but it doesn't set me on fire with anticipation, need, want, whatever. I do think the latest 3 is one of the less-well-executed models in the lineup. Interior is good, the powertrains that are offered are good, but it's lacking a little breadth there and the styling... well, it's basically an automotive catfish. It photographs well from certain angles but is not actually an overall good looking car in my opinion.  

 

CyberEric
CyberEric HalfDork
3/1/20 10:39 p.m.

In reply to _ :

It was reported to be... problematic. Something about cruising and then asking for rapid acceleration caused things to hit things that should not hit. There is a software fix that supposedly ups the oil pressure and fixes the problem. Time will tell. I haven't read up on it in the past few months.

I wonder if you can get them without the cylinder deactivation. You can in the CX-30, IIRC.

Advan046
Advan046 UltraDork
3/2/20 12:18 p.m.

I must say that I think Mazda is going the right direction. It is the only way for them to stay profitable. I wish they would at least offer some meaningful Mazdaspeed parts for their 3, 6, and Miata.

My biggest issue with the current 3 hatch is I think it has very bad exterior styling. 

I have wanted a 6 manual or 3 manual for many years now. Just hasn't worked out. But they remain strong on my used car list. 

Mazda is the only brand that I recommend to family though. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
3/2/20 1:35 p.m.

There are a number of things keeping me from wanting to replace my current, trusty 2012 3 hatch with a new one:

-Styling. The front looks great. The back looks great. The side profile looks like a 1973 AMC Gremlin. I like Gremlins and all, but not mixed with the 3. It has what we used to call "MySpace Angles". I kinda like it, but also kinda don't.

-Price. To get one the way I want it (that means with a manual transmission), Cost of entry is $9000 more than what I paid for mine new. Yes, I bought that nearly 9 years ago, but a similarly equipped Corolla Hatch with a stick and the XSE package is about $22k, not $29k like the 3 is now. And you can't even get AWD with the stick. For shame!

-The Competition. The Corolla XSE is closest to the 3 in terms of a car in its class, but it is short about 20hp. I bet they are close in a real-life scenario, though. So, what else can you buy for $29k? In its own class, the Civic Si comes to mind, and it's $4k less. The GTI is around the same money, as is the WRX with some bells and whistles. Then, there's the Hyundai stuff that can be had with all the performance goodies for around the same. With $29k, you can also step up a class and get an Accord Sport, a Mazda 6 Grand Touring, or a ton of other options.

I'm sure it's a fine car, but it's not for me, sadly. I'm guessing they stop selling it altogether in the next couple years. They have priced themselves out of the market, which is dwindling due to the obsession with CUV's.

FWIW, the auto trans in these is likely the same one that's in all of the other Mazdas, and it's great. The one in our CX-5, especially in Sport Mode, can be entertaining.

Vigo
Vigo MegaDork
3/2/20 3:46 p.m.

They have priced themselves out of the market, which is dwindling due to the obsession with CUV's.

Seems almost intentional when you frame it a certain way.  I'll be sad to see the 3 go but it's not what it started as and has no halo model that would raise it's image even above that of a cx-3 or cx-30. It's just a 'good small car that happens to be a mazda but isn't the best mazda even at its price point'. Yeesh. It almost seems to exist only to satiate CUV-haters, but considering the CUV haters have a lot of overlap with people wanting a sporty drive, they really should have made it faster if nothing else. 

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