Ace of Base: 2019 Mazda 3 Sedan
Our man Corey took the wheel of Mazda’s new compact car last week, flinging the little four-door up and down Californian roads, at least during the times when he was not answering pointed questions from stern Park Rangers.
The base 3 has always had a spot in the Ace of Base trophy room, managing to combine sleek looks with a dose of non-somnambulant handling. Freshly refurbished for 2019, this new model appears to do the same, but has the base model sacrificed any content at the hands of flinty-eyed Mazda accountants?
Under that hood is a 186 horsepower 2.5-liter inline-four. No, it isn’t connected to a stick shift anymore. To stir the gears on your own, one has to pop for a different trim which decidedly does not fit the Ace of Base criteria. However, we do take our hats off to Mazda for offering a manual transmission at all.
The 3 Sedan wears an MSRP of $21,000 even, a sum certainly in line with other small cars in its class. It’s a good-looking rig, with 16-inch aluminium alloys (no steelies here!), color-keyed mirrors, LED peepers and taillamps, and a matte-style finish to that huge front grille. Your author does like how the designers allowed the hood’s cutline to flow from the sides rather than simply have an unsightly gash darting between the headlights.
Inside, economies of scale seem to have won the argument against offering a decontented base model. Air conditioning is standard, as are a raft of power options and a push-button start. The steering wheel bears buttons for cruise control and audio commands, the latter of which are displayed on a large 8.8-inch center display. The days of only having a pair of front speakers are long gone, as even this base model has eight of the things. There’s a brace of USB ports so the driver doesn’t have to fight with their passenger for smartphone charging time.
Mazda offers a single non-greyscale paint shade on the base car: this Deep Crystal Blue shown here. Black is the only interior color choice, a decision of which I approve but may play differently in places like Phoenix or Furnace Creek.
It is gobsmacking to your author that a (relatively) small company like Mazda can continue to crank out appealing vehicles with a sporty bent. I often wonder what they’d be able to do with the engineering might of Toyota or GM, but perhaps that’s their secret – by being small, they’re able to bake a personality into their cars that mirrors the car-loving nature of the people creating the thing. That’s a great formula at either end of the price scale.
Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.
The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.
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