Car of the Year: 2019 Mazda3 Sport GT Review

The heading of this post starts with “Car of the Year”, yes, I’m claiming the 2019 Mazda3 is going to win car of the year, it’s a bold statement but I have good reason to believe the new Mazda3 is going to be the winner.

We reviewed the 2019 Mazda3 GT (sedan) a couple of weeks ago, as promised, now we’re bringing you our thoughts on the 2019 Mazda3 Sport (hatchback). I was already a big fan of the new for 2019 Mazda3 sedan and I’ve become an even bigger fan after spending a week with the sporty “Sport”.

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The sedan and the hatchback are basically the same vehicle but with a huge difference in styling, which is especially apparent in this generation of the Mazda3. I really liked the looks of the Mazda3 sedan, it is very sleek. I also like the hatchback a lot, it reminds me of something that would come out of an Alfa Romeo factory, however, I’m still not too sure on the c-pillar, it’s just really big and will take me time to get used to it. But thankfully I don’t have to see it when I’m driving. The looks of the Mazda3 Sport are very polarizing, a lot of people I’ve talked to either dislike it strongly or love it, especially from the side view.

The Mazda3 Sport is packaged a bit different from the sedan, with prices starting a few thousand dollars more. Below is a list of prices for the different configurations of the Mazda3 Sport:

TrimTransDriveEnginePrice
GX6-MTFWD2.0 i4$21,300
GX6-ATFWD2.0 i4$22,600
GS6-MTFWD2.5 i4 CD$24,000
GS6-ATFWD2.5 i4 CD$25,300
GS6-ATAWD2.5 i4 CD$27,000
GT6-MTFWD2.5 i4 CD$28,400
GT6-ATFWD2.5 i4 CD$27,200
GT6-ATAWD2.5 i4 CD$31,400

Our review car had a sticker price of $30,545, this price included $450 for the beautiful Soul Red Crystal metallic paint and $1,695 for Freight & PDE. Our car was equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission and was the FWD model.

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The sedan and the hatchback share the same engines, either a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine producing 155 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 150 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm or a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with cylinder deactivation, producing 186 HP at 6,000 rpm and 186 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.

According to Mazda, the Mazda3 Sport with the manual transmission and the 2.5-liter engine should consume 9.2 L/100 km in the city and 6.6 L/100 km on the highway. The 6-speed automatic equipped Mazda3 Sport should consume 9.0/6.8 city/highway. The hatchback, for some reason, is 0.2 L/100 km less efficient than the sedan.

I had a lot of fun driving the 4th generation Mazda3 sedan with the automatic transmission, but if you want to some real fun, go for the manual transmission. The 6-speed manual is a smooth shifting transmission, it squeezes the most fun out of the 2.5-liter engine. The “Jinba-Itai” philosophy is even more relevant with the manual transmission equipped cars; it gives you an extra dimension of connection to the car. And of course, manual transmission cars are almost always fun and hatchbacks need to have a manual.

Power is smoothly sent to the front wheels via the manual transmission, unfortunately the manual transmission is not offered on the AWD equipped models; but we’re still grateful Mazda is offering a manual transmission, although at a premium of $1,200 over the automatic. Shifting through gears sent me back to the days when pretty much all cars were offered with manuals, the good old days before CUVs took over the world.

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Unlike the “good old days”, you don’t have to worry about pulling your hand brake when you stop on a steep hill, the Mazda3’s manual transmission comes with automatic brake hold for hills; after releasing the brake pedal, the car will automatically hold the brake for a few seconds, giving you time to release the brake and push the accelerator pedal. The Mazda3 also automatically applies the handbrake when you park, so you don’t need to worry about the car rolling if you forgot the car in neutral (which happened to me once when I was a teenager, thankfully the car didn’t hit anything).

I had a chance to drive the Mazda3 Sport on some twisty roads, the car felt very planted and the suspension was very complaint even on bumpy surfaces at higher speeds. The Mazda3 Sport feels very sporty and put smile on my face pretty much every time I got behind the wheel. I really enjoyed my time with this little hatchback.

Like most/all new cars, there wasn’t much steering feedback, but the steering had a nice weight, not to light and not too heavy. The suspension also has a very nice balance of sport and comfort, the car made the road feel very smooth.

I want to be greedy and hope Mazda will bring back the “MazdaSpeed” version of the 3, especially since they already have a turbocharged 250 horsepower engine at their disposal. A 300 HP version, with AWD, and a 6-speed transmission (and not ridiculously priced) would be very much appreciated.

The interior on the Mazda3 Sport is identical to the sedan, the only difference is there is no glass separating you from your cargo, just the cargo cover. The Mazda3 Sport also has the same tech/safety/convenience features as the sedan.

There are two features I didn’t mention in my sedan review, that I think give the Mazda3 a premium feel. First is the way you open the doors with the proximity key, on premium cars, you just stick your hand inside the outer door handle and the door unlocks and you pull the door open. And when you want to lock the car, you just put your finger on the door handle and it locks the door, instead of a button that sticks out of the door handle (on non-luxury cars with proximity key) that you’d push to lock or unlock the car. Mazda3 comes with the former, which is a feature found on premium cars, I really liked this.

The second is the tilting side mirrors when you back up, this helps with seeing where the line on a parking spot is and more importantly when you’re parking on the street, it helps you see where the curb is, which should help you avoid scratching the wheels. I found this feature by accident, it’s activated by clicking the right mirror button (the button you’d press to adjust your right-side mirror, you can do the same for the left side), and when you put the transmission in reverse, the mirror automatically tilts down. This feature can be easily turned off, if you don’t want it, by simply pressing the right mirror button (or left, which ever one is active). The tilting mirror feature is found on higher-end cars, it’s nice to see it on a car like the Mazda3.

Final Thoughts

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The Mazda3 has always been known to be a sporty car in the compact segment, unlike its competitors, the car hasn’t grown in size, but it has become even sportier and can now be considered an entry level luxury car for a price that’s thousands less than what we would truly call an entry level car (I’m thinking Audi A3 and Acura ILX).

I really enjoyed my time behind the wheel of both the 2019 Mazda3 sedan and the Mazda3 Sport, the Sport was even more fun thanks to its 6-speed manual transmission. If you are in the market for a compact sedan/hatchback or even an entry level luxury car, do not overlook the excellent 4th generation Mazda3.

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Faisal

When I'm not reviewing the latest cars, I'm busy checking out the latest gadgets and watches by the world's best manufacturers. Cars, gadgets, and watches... that's all a man needs to get through life.

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