The 2019 Mazda 3 has a great driving position and reasonably good front seats, plus exceptionally good fit and finish in its tight, quiet cabin. That earns this serene compact-car family a score of 7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The 2019 Mazda 3 has been completely redesigned, with the driver’s position at the center of it. There are plenty of “hip” jokes to be made; Mazda says they focused on the hips and pelvis as the place where unnecessary motions are carried up to the shoulders and neck, which causes ride motions (and handling maneuvers) to feel more turbulent than they are.
Redesigned, more supportive seats are just the start. The Mazda 3’s dash and control layout requires less reaching and neck movements, all the switches have the same tactile feel, the font used throughout the cabin and controls is the same, and the interior is well-lit—all priorities that you might expect in a luxury car, but unusual in an affordable compact like the Mazda 3.
The control layout of the new Mazda 3 minimizes distractions, with a wide center display, straightforward round gauges and, in some versions, a head-up display that projects a few critical readouts on the windshield, to a focal point 7.5 feet ahead of the driver.
One thing shoppers will have to come to terms with is that the 8.8-inch center screen is not a touchscreen. Mazda claims that a Command Controller down on the center console, just behind the shift lever, avoids awkward hand-eye coordination and longer glances away from the road ahead. With only a couple of hours logged with the system so far, and an unfamiliar menu system, it’s too early to say whether we’ve found that to be true.
Mazda also has redesigned the center console and placed cupholders at the back of it, behind the Command Controller, and redesigned its padded armrests and large center-console box.
The Mazda 3’s front seats should be comfortable for a wide range of drivers, especially those who will relish that the 3 feels unabashedly car-like in its cabin and driving position.
The 2019 Mazda 3 has a wheelbase that’s about an inch longer than the 2018 model—107.3 inches—but it doesn’t feel like much, if any, new space has been awarded to back-seat riders. The interior doesn’t feel quite as space-efficient as some other models in this class like the Honda Civic or Hyundai Elantra, which may be the result of aiming high for ergonomics. Head room is at a premium in the back of the Mazda 3, although it’s easy to splay legs and tuck feet under the front seats. Getting into the Mazda 3is perhaps a little easier than in other small cars, thanks to generous door cuts.
Mazda has lowered the trunk floor, a happy consequence of the new rear torsion-beam suspension layout, and seats fold nearly flat.
While the sedan is 7.9 inches longer than the hatchback (they’re only different behind the rear seats), there’s just 13.2 cubic feet in the sedan’s trunk and 20.1 cubic feet in the hatchback. In real-world use, without piling cargo up to interfere with visibility, the sedan is going to feel just as useful.
Ride quality for the new Mazda 3 is improved over the previous car—soft enough for rough city streets but damped in a way that soaks up freeway heaves and bumps (and quick steering adjustments) without secondary motions. We’ve only briefly driven the new cars, but will update this space if our opinions change.
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