By on November 28, 2018

It’s pretty common for automakers to talk a big game when it comes to building cars that provide pleasure during everyday driving situations. Generally speaking, Mazda has backed it up.

The Mazda 3 compact sedan and hatch have long been considered among the best of the small-car segment for those who enjoy driving. Mazda knows this and is looking to live up to that reputation with the new global 3, while also boosting fuel economy.

That means that there are five powertrains utilizing Skyactiv technology now available. They displace 1.5-, 2.0-, or 2.5-liters in the case of gas engines, or 1.8-liters for the diesel. A hybrid powertrain will also be available. It’s unclear as of yet which engines and drivetrain layouts are set for sale in the U.S. and Canada, or if the 3 will be listed as a 2019 or 2020 model year vehicle.

(Ed. note: As usual, auto show lighting is terrible for pics. If we get better ones later, we’ll replace them. See below for a glossy press shot.)

You’ll be able to choose between a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive will be available (again, it’s unclear if AWD will be sold in North America).

Mazda 3

Let’s take a break here: I need to note that Mazda’s press materials don’t differentiate what is global and what is U.S.-spec. I’ve heard that this might get cleared up at the press conference, but given that the presser is scheduled for late in the day, I’d rather report what we know now and update later.

The specs above are what we know now. I did get to see the car in person last night and my initial take is that the car is sleek-looking, but the sedan is far more handsome than the hatchback (which has the kind of booty we usually hear about in bad rap songs).

The hatch also looks a bit like the current car, while the sedan is a clear departure.

Mazda 3

It’s a certain bet that the Skyactiv-X engine will be available in U.S.-spec cars in 2.0-liter guise. A prototype I drove in January proved to be pretty torquey around town. While some harshness issues cropped up, I bet they’ll be cleaned up for production.

This post will be updated if and when we get more spec details.

Image: Mazda

[Images © 2018 Tim Healey/TTAC, Mazda]

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64 Comments on “The Next Mazda 3: Zooming Right Along...”


  • avatar
    make_light

    I think the hatch is absolutely stunning, but both models look great. How could anyone buy the frumpy looking new Corolla when this is available? But they will…

  • avatar
    SixspeedSi

    That C-pillar is..large. Very good looking besides that and my god that blue is beautiful.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      What is with the humunguous blind spot on that hatch? That makes a Civic Hatchback look somewhat nice — at least from the side!!

      And what in the name of all that is good and holy is with that dash??!! The iPad on top is falling into the top of the dash, and the passenger airbag piece is like..** W! T! F???!!! ** Ferchrissakes, it’s a CAR INTERIOR, not an origami exhibition!

      (And as I’ve griped before, the damn inside mirror that brings a the facial expression of a freakazoid clown to mind is the nail in the coffin! I swear, the Gentex corporation is making money hand-over-fist; whoever came up with that gawdawful design has got to be rolling in bonus $$$! And the wacky cigarettes aren’t even legal in Michigan yet!)

  • avatar
    Roger

    The front intake does more refined and premium looking with every generation. A nice overall upgrade to this car. The screen is integrated, better looking than some stick-ons like Toyota is using.

    I like the hatch…. but maybe this could have a window in the C pillar and voila!!! Let’s have a Sport Wagon!!

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      “Integrated” is a bit of a stretch! It looks like it’s about to fall down inside the dash, and looks like it’s too far away from the driver to be seen easily! Maybe it’s the way the lines on the dash top go all over the place! (What is with that passenger-side of the dash, anyway?!)

      I’ll still give it a look at the auto show — under normal lights, you might see a method to the madness!

  • avatar
    Kek

    With GM, Ford vacating the sedan / small car market this could be Mazda’s golden opportunity. CX-5 with Turbo on GT-Reserve and Signature trim with all options checked coming in under 10 grand vs Q5/RDX is a pretty tempting alternative. The new 6 with 2.5T, the new 3 with 2.5 SKY-G and Sky-X available – also opens up the 2.5T possibility. Plus their cars are not hideous as some of the Toyonda’s are.
    Gen 1 Sky-X Mazda’s (2013 to 2017/2018) are some of the best daily driver eco cars out there.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’m still curious about Sky-X. My lease will be expriring after it’s been on the market for a bit. Might use that as an excuse to drive one.

  • avatar
    TMD748

    Hatchback is 50% hideous with that rear blob. On the other hand, sedan is gorgeous.

    Can’t wait for reviewers to overrate its driving characteristics.

    Hope the interior feels as nice as it looks. Current gen (including the refreshed 6) looks nice, but it’s very skin-deep.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Agreed on that hatch!

      Between that gigrundous C-Pillar and the gaping expanse of steel where a few more inches of window could have gone, it makes a Civic Hatch look civilized — from the side, at least! It reminds me of one of the blobs in the Waze app!

      The Sedan looks very Mazda, zoom-zoomy!

      But then there’s that dashboard…!

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      I am about as big a Mazda fanboy as they come, have owned several. I have very mixed feelings about the hatchback. I’d like to see it in person but my first thought upon seeing it was not excitement. I typically think Mazda makes very stylish vehicles, but something about that hatch goes against the grain in the wrong way for me. I will never like small sedans with their short rear decks on a car with large fwd overhang. The proportions of small fwd sedans are all wrong generally speaking.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    1. SkyactiveX is not coming till end of ’19
    2. Suspension is no longer independent in rear. (car and driver)

  • avatar
    erlebo

    This generation of the 3 doesn’t have an independent rear suspension. That is not very Zoom-Zoom. Even the Corolla has an IRS now.

    • 0 avatar
      TMD748

      Their marketing team will spin up something to make you believe that the torsion beam is the most affordable, best handling, and best riding.

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        Their reasoning is it “improves quietness”

        I’m not happy about it

      • 0 avatar
        stuntmonkey

        This was the same logic Honda used when they canned the front double wishbones on the Accord, that is for noise reduction, not weight savings. Sure, why not. But in the case here, you’ll have comparable hatches to compare with independent rear suspensions, so if you come up with an alternative that is better riding and quieter, you’ll know that the marketing isn’t living up to the hype. More or less it doesn’t make a difference in real world driving, but it was little things like this that stopped Honda’s from being the Honda’s that we remember.

    • 0 avatar
      Kek

      I can tell you one thing, no matter what specs you see on the Corolla – in real world its still a Toyota (read ‘pig’ for driving dynamics).
      I have put 10K miles on a CX5 and a Camry SE. I’ll let you guess which is more sure footed car.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Don’t bet on lessened amount of rear wheel camber control; in a fundamentally understeer prone layout like a space constrained front engined FWD car; being much of a detriment to what at least Mazda considers zoom-zoom. It’ll make the car ultimately slower, especially on very sticky tires, but so does explicit choices made to the Miata’s suspension setup and tuning.

  • avatar
    deanst

    The blind spot in the hatch is too much. Why no pictures of the stunning interior? That’s the most appealing part of the design….

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    As I’ve said elsewhere….

    Sedan is bland, hatch is too featureless and c pillar is too fat
    Torsion beam???
    Skyactiv-G engines combine the worst elements of DI turbo engines (bad sound + clattery diesel idle) with the worst elements of small NA engines (no torque, a need to rev to get anywhere). Good gas mileage but not much better than the turbo lumps in the Golf/Civic/Elantra Sport, which all feel like they have 2x the HP

    The more I see and read about this the less I like it. Just want to know what’s up with Skyactiv-X and if it’s making it to the 6

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      I feel like it’s going to be overpriced to add to all of that

    • 0 avatar
      Kek

      Your comment about Sky G is exactly opposite of what Sky G is.
      Good low torque, best in class 0-30, 20-40, 40-60 numbers. Best daily drivers considering the fuel economy that they get. 30+ for the 6 and 3, about 28 mixed for the CX-5, no idea about the CX-9.
      On gas mileage – the Civic will do better for conservative drivers, but for lead foot drivers the 3 will come out better.
      If you like the 1.5T with CVT in the Civic, you probably won’t like the Sky – G.
      The 3 is like a reserved cousin of the GTI with a better dressing sense.

      • 0 avatar
        TMD748

        Luckily we have instrumented tests from Car and Driver and Fuelly, etc. Real world results: SkyActive-G is okay. The 3 is an internet gatekeeper’s wet dream.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Kek with the Mazda fanboi fantasies.

        Sky-G fuel economy is the same as the Civic 2.0 and worse than the 1.5T

        Acceleration/torque lol. Base Golf murders Sky-G 2.0 and matches 2.5. Civic 1.5T murders the 2.5 (basically half a second faster from 60 on).

        It’s not even like you get something in exchange. Sky-G engines have the same DI clatter at idle and aren’t really eager to rev or sonorous up top.

        On top of that dynamically the 3i, Golf and base Civic are equal. But the Golf and Civic 1.5T have much better engines. They are better driver’s cars. Now even more so with the 4th gen. Mazda is for people who value design which is important and legitimate. And there was a time where they were the stand out for driving dynamics and fun. But that’s over. 3rd gen 3 was so so and this one is out of the race as far as driver’s cars go.

        • 0 avatar
          Kek

          You need a mirror before you call others a fanboi.
          Only thing that 1.5T might destroy is itself through fuel dilution. Since it seems you know about them a lot does it have fuel smell in the cabin like CR-V does as well or its only seeing dilution??
          How about the Accord 1.5T – does it have fuel dilution too??

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            A natural fanboi defense… when called on his BS, he pivots and deflects. Honda has already issued a fix in China, a worldwide fix is coming.

            There is no fix coming for Sky-G’s nasty sound and breathless performance. It’s telling that the only quick Mazdas are either turbocharged or featherweights. Like TMD748 said, they are an ICE’s dream.

          • 0 avatar
            Kek

            Let me give you a proper reply since you asked for it.
            I said – the 3 is better as DD, 0-30 time is .4 second faster than 1.5T (2.4 for Mazda vs 2.8 for Civic), similarly speed transition will be faster probably due to 6 spd vs CVT and the turbo lag. You can google C&D for both cars.
            You said the civic is faster to 60, which is true and I never claimed this. Reading comprehension = 0.

            Next on fuel economy – small displacement turbos are good for Grannys doing their Aldi shopping runs. C&D or was it Motortrend saw 21 mpg in the CRV in city with 1.5T. This is exactly what i said. Conservative drivers will see good economy on 1.5T. Moment you push it hard those numbers will pretty much be less than what a 3 would get driven WOT.

            So far you with me?
            Finally on the dilution / fuel fumes in the cabin issue – if you are ok with letting yourself and co. ride in a car with fumes – thats cool. Its actually good alternative to meth / weed. Plus I am not sure how many enthusiasts would love driving their engine for 2 years doing 3000 mile oil changes – or go for longer drives to burn the fuel all the time wondering how long will the engine live. In China Honda has extended the warranty.
            Perhaps not the issue but the way Honda has handled it is more of a problem – its good for shareholders bad for car owners. Their dealers are claiming ‘never heard this’ whereas folks in Texas are seeing it. Most people dont check their dipstick for fuel so issue could be under reported.

            Honda has done a tremendous job of keeping this under cover – on many forums and sites like Quora these discussions get zero traction.
            There is a breaking point for all fanboys, you are still better than one on CRV forums who blamed fuel dilution on China’s poor fuel quality.

  • avatar

    Here is yet another Japanese carmaker that makes better cars than GM. If Mitsubishi made cars they would be superior GM as well. How much does GM have to stink.

    What a disgrace!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Mazda continues its descent into irrelevancy.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment-wide ranging in its complex analysis and conclusions. Well done.

    • 0 avatar
      Kek

      “Mazda continues its descent into irrelevancy”
      This is true for the racer boys, but as far as the market they are targeting – Mazda is pretty good. Typhoon and tariffs and currency rates have hurt them but things looking good.
      AA / CP available.
      2.5T Signature/ GT Reserve on CX-5
      New 6 will sell well in few markets
      New 3 coming for Imprezas candy.

      They are going for entry level luxury buyers and are doing ok. It will take decades of good work though.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Kek,
        Mazda is doing well in Australia. They are number 2 in total sales.

        Like VW, Mazda isn’t that big in the US.

        • 0 avatar
          Kek

          “Big Al from Oz”
          You have a reviewer on youtube that is bald headed. Name rhymes with Ergodan. He was walloping Honda and he gave a statistic about them. The Mazda3 alone sells the entire honda line up 3:1 in Aussieland.
          Seems EU and Aus really like their Mazdas. US buyers are primarily buying based on reputation (Honda/Yota), patriotism lol (GM, Ford, FCA) or price (Nissan, Mitsu, Korean sisters).

          I am glad I did not go with a Rav4. My CX5 in city gets better mileage than SE Camry. Dope DD af.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    i totally disagree with many above. that rear hatch is beautiful.
    but then again, i would have loved the VW bug if they had a similarly porsche like buldge.

    porsche has been doing this forever.

    unless the rear view is impossible, which it likely will be, i love it.

    • 0 avatar
      Kek

      Agree, the hatch styling seems better the more you look at it. That Blue is a killer though. Guess $500 option for it. Sedan is a looker too.
      Interesting to see if this gets cyl. deactivation as well. Seen some CX5 owners hit 35+ mpg on trips around 60 mph.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    The hatchback looks like a rolling bunker for people too scared to look at the world around them. Why is so much of the back window glued over sheet metal? There used to be a writer here who obsessed about DLO-fail. I guess the side windows on the hatchback are what you’re left with when you don’t put on fake black triangles to create the impression of window area. As for the sedan, it is about a generation late with the dreaded roof slump that pushed everyone with backseat passengers into CRVs. It’s too bad because I might suspend my disbelief in Mazda’s inability to make a durable product due to the demise of Honda’s ability and the presence of a 2.5 liter naturally aspirated engine on the option list. OTOH, the chassis sounds like something out of VW’s playbook from before people woke up about ‘clean’ diesels.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    What is with these beltlines? Argh. How do you change lanes in that hatchback? I’m a big Mazda fan in general, but I remain unconvinced with this new model.

    (As I said in my comments on the “teaser” video Mazda put out last month, that rear roofline just didn’t look properly proportioned for the Mazda 3. That was why I actually expected them to announce a new model. Well, it turns out if really was the Mazda 3’s rear roofline … and it still doesn’t look properly proportioned. Oh well.)

    P.S. – Your neighbor’s kid can’t wait to kick his football right into that vast expanse of C-pillar.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Did they have a contest to see who could come up with the design that made rear door ingress/egress the most difficult and create the biggest rear blind spot?

    No wonder car sales are sliding in favour of CUVs.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Forgot that I had to Google this car to see some interior shots before commenting above!

    Spoiler alert: don’t look! (Unless you want to, well..never mind!)

    ::Drops mic!::

  • avatar
    Wodehouse

    That hatch version is very 1970s Princess 1800 meets current Mazda3. I like it, though, the hideous flat edges to the wheel cutouts seem enormous.

  • avatar
    vehic1

    A very nice effort; I’m not sure that any car is going to juice Mazda’s shaky sales much. Perhaps their CUVs are just too pretty-pretty, not quite butch enough; perhaps their ad campaigns are too forgettable; perhaps there is a limit to how many non-luxury Japanese automakers can become major players.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I’ve been looking at various hatches to replace my POS 17 Cruze with. So far, just the Corolla HB and Mazda3 HB (both with manual, they only way I will consider one). I had been hearing the new 3 was due to drop. That being the case, when I return to the US next spring, I’ll likely still be looking at the current gen 3. I think there is an elegance and grace to it that this new version sorely lacks. Yes, looks are subjective, but does every car need to cross into quasi-CUV territory?

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    If you’re familiar with the European SEAT Leon then this looks stangely familiar – the C pillar is pure 1st generation
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SEAT_Le%C3%B3n#First_generation_(Typ_1M;_1998%E2%80%932005)

    while the rear lights are very similar to the 2nd generation
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SEAT_Le%C3%B3n#Second_generation_(Typ_1P;_2005%E2%80%932012)

    While the Leon went all straight edged and VW corporate look with the 3rd gen, the Mazda 3 looks to have taken the sports hatch look.

    (Mazda was once described as the Japanese Alfa Romeo, while at one point VW wanted SEAT to be the Spanish Alfa Romeo)

  • avatar
    Funky

    Next year, as a replacement for my CX-3, I might consider a Mazda 3 if it can be purchased with the optional all wheel drive in the USA. I’ve stayed away from the 3, so far, since it hasn’t met my specific needs (in particular, a small wagon-like vehicle which has four wheel drive). But, this new version might be tempting, even though it’s bigger than I’d like (especially, if it has all wheel drive).

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      Was thinking along similar lines.
      I like my CX-3 but we just added an 80 lb dog to a pack that already includes two adults and a 50 lb dog. The dogs and humans all fit but it’s a little cramped. There’d be no room for air if we added luggage.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    I need to see it in person to make a final determination on how it looks.

    That being said, when taking everything in aggregate, the GTI is still the cream of the crop.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Houston we have a winnah! That hatchback is drop dead gorgeous. I’m thinking about a new car in the springtime. If I could get one with the 2-liter, manual gearbox, cloth interior, nav and sat radio in that beautiful candy apple red, I think I’d buy it… Time to say goodbye to my troublesome GTI.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    This car will be just sad for kids – they’ll have no choice but to stare at their phones and build a slowly growing hatred for all things automotive, because they won’t be able to see a thing.

    Terrible car for enthusiasts with kids.

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    Having seen more pictures of it elsewhere than those shown here, the hatchback has a design that can only be described as “what were they thinking?”. It is absolutely hideous. Adding an engine with “harshness issues” to a car that has struggled over its entire life to find refinement and been saddled with excess NVH issues hardly seems like a winning move.

    The sedan may do OK but this could lead to even further drops in Mazda’s US sales volume once the early-adopter fanbois buy their allotments, something they can ill-afford.


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