2019 Mazda3

Dis­tinctly styled with trick engine tech

Motor Trend - - Intake - Ste­fan Og­bac

With more than 6 mil­lion ex­am­ples sold since its in­tro­duc­tion in 2003, the Mazda3 is a key ve­hi­cle for the Hiroshima-based au­tomaker. Now in its fourth gen­er­a­tion, the 2019 Mazda3 her­alds the evo­lu­tion of Mazda’s Kodo de­sign lan­guage and the Sky­ac­tiv plat­form and pow­er­train ar­chi­tec­ture.

Mazda set out to cre­ate a dis­tinct char­ac­ter for each body style of­fered on the 2019 Mazda3. In its jour­ney from con­cept to its on-sale date in early 2019, the hatch­back barely changed from the Kai con­cept, giv­ing it a sleek nose but a rather bul­bous back end and a thick C-pil­lar. The sedan is more ma­ture, like a Mazda6 mini-me but with a cleaner side pro­file—its fast roofline lead­ing into a stub tail for its trunk.

In­side, the new cabin has a clean, re­strained dash lay­out fea­tur­ing min­i­mal but­tons and an 8.8-inch touch­screen for the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Mazda Con­nect in­ter­face, which also re­tains its knob­based con­trols. Ex­tra sound in­su­la­tion has been added for im­proved NVH. Re­designed seats and a steer­ing wheel that tele­scopes far­ther than be­fore have also been added.

The most sig­nif­i­cant ad­di­tion to the 2019 Mazda3 is un­der the hood: the Sky­ac­tiv-x engine. This new pow­er­train uses a spark to cre­ate a pres­sure wave that ini­ti­ates com­pres­sion ig­ni­tion for im­proved torque and fuel ef­fi­ciency. This new 2.0-liter lightly su­per­charged four-cylin­der engine (with an es­ti­mated 190 hp and 170 lb-ft) will be paired with a mild hy­brid sys­tem to fur­ther im­prove per­for­mance and fuel econ­omy. The ex­ist­ing Sky­ac­tiv-g engine fam­ily re­turns, with the ex­tant 2.5-liter as the base engine, putting out an es­ti­mated 187 hp and 186 lb-ft. Other mar­kets will get a new Sky­ac­tiv-d 1.8-liter tur­bod­iesel I-4. Trans­mis­sion choices in­clude a six-speed man­ual or a six-speed au­to­matic.

Un­der­pin­ning the 2019 Mazda3 is an evo­lu­tion of the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion plat­form, which now con­sists of 30 per­cent high-strength steel for im­proved crash per­for­mance and body rigid­ity. All-wheel drive will be of­fered for the first time in a Mazda3, and G-vec­tor­ing Con­trol Plus uses the brakes to sta­bi­lize the car dur­ing emer­gency ma­neu­vers. Mazda’s i-ac­tivsense suite gets the new Driver Mon­i­tor sys­tem, which uses an LED in­frared cam­era to mon­i­tor the driver’s con­di­tion, level of drowsi­ness and fa­tigue, and eye move­ments to de­ter­mine how dis­tracted he or she is. The semi-au­ton­o­mous Cruis­ing & Traf­fic Sup­port fea­ture as­sists with ac­cel­er­at­ing, brak­ing, and steer­ing in traf­fic jams.

One cost-saving move: The old 3’s sup­ple and pre­cise (though oc­ca­sion­ally jit­tery) mul­ti­link rear sus­pen­sion gets down­graded to a tor­sion­beam setup. Mazda can lec­ture about “the con­cept of smooth­ing the trans­mis­sion of force to the sprung mass over time,” but we’ll be­lieve it when we drive it.

Ex­pected to go on sale early this year, the 2019 Mazda3 kick-starts Mazda’s Zoom-zoom 2030 plan, which will see more elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and semi-au­ton­o­mous driver as­sis­tance tech.

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