By on March 27, 2019


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.

[Images: Mazda]

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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31 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2019 Mazda 3 Sedan...”

  • avatar

    Mazda’s Deep Crystal Blue is my favorite color any automaker offers, what a perfect hue.

  • avatar

    Who’s going to get a base Mazda 3 over a base Mazda 6?

  • avatar

    Does it have a full complement of electronic safety gear like AEB, BSM and cross traffic alert? If the base model doesn’t offer the newer electronic safety measures, I won’t even test drive it. Honda and Toyota have those gadgets baked into their models’ prices at all price points from base to loaded. I won’t move up several rungs of the price ladder to get the safety measures that I consider necessary. (Hear that Chevy?)

    • 0 avatar

      You consider the nannies to be a necessity? Now I’m the one who’s gobsmacked. I consider them largely to be a nuisance!

      • 0 avatar

        Blind spot monitoring and cross-traffic are really nice to have as a backup. Cross-traffic in particular can ‘see’ better than I can hope to when I’m backing out of a parking spot.

        I will say that quality varies a lot depending on implementation. Hyundai/Kia’s safeties are super hands-off and non-annoying; the AEB has only beeped at me a couple of times when I was about to pass someone, and honestly it had legitimate reason to be concerned! Lane departure is reliable and only vibrates the wheel so it’s not annoying.

        Honda’s previous-gen lane-keep was incredibly obnoxious, though, so I think it’s not so much that safeties are annoying as that it depends on how they’re done.

        • 0 avatar


          Could nt agree more. Cross traffic and blind spot are not nannies to snickered at. When done well, they are vitally important.
          (my car can detect pedestrians in my blind spots when backing up).

          I too refuse to move all the way to the top of the options list to get these goodies. (Bah Bye GGM)

        • 0 avatar

          “Hyundai/Kia’s safeties are super hands-off and non-annoying;”

          I recently tested SantaFe. I took it to this curvy road and wanted to cut the curve through center, it was really aggressively steering me back into lane. I was thinking, there are constantly dead animals, fallen branches here on my roads and I steer around them. This thing will steer me into objects. f.that

      • 0 avatar


        nannies in my car = dead weight

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      The base 2019 Mazda3 sedan offers nothing in that department, not even as an option.

    • 0 avatar

      You have to move up to the next trim ($22600) for all the active safety stuff.

    • 0 avatar

      what are you, a snowflake? If you want a nanny – hire one. Im here worried that after 20+ years of mazda ownership, I am losing ability to buy plain ace-of-base MT car. One thing warms my heart – I still have 3 MT and may drive them for years to come. Hopefully, Corolla MT will still be available later on. I’ll give them extra $$ to remove the nannies.

      • 0 avatar

        Pretty sad when one has to ditch Mazda for a Corolla, in order to get an enthusiast worthy car….

        • 0 avatar

          To tell the truth, I am fighting for you guys. I am set. I have 3 MT Mazdas. One is driven 6K per year. One 2K. One being killed @20K/y. So, I will have at least 2 great driving Mazdas for some time. But it is truly disturbs me when Mazda cuts on manuals. A company that had most manuals of all in %sold.

          When I really appreciate manual – driving with cruise control (haha-I know). Recent trip in my new Highlander just highlighted another advantage. Cruising at 70, it was constantly dropping couple gears and RPMs stayed just above 2K for long periods of time. The slightest uphill would cause this. With manual, you put 6th gear and it has no choice but stay that way. Wasn’t 7,8th gears added for cruising so RPM would be kept @1.5K? But no. And also with the radar cruise control, when car slows down behind one in front, if you switch lane to keep moving, it droops like 4 gears and accelerates like crazy instead of gradually regaining the speed. Disturbing

  • avatar


    Good word usage.

  • avatar

    …the driver doesn’t have to fight with their passenger…

    “Their” passenger? Multiple drivers – now that’s innovative.
    In a base model, yet. Go Mazda!

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That’s a bit pedantic to bring up.

      The gender-neutral “they” has long been a valid part of English grammar, and I’m sure that’s what Mazda meant.

      • 0 avatar

        Pedantic? I thought it more gentle, humorously mocking.

        I disagree that the gender-neutral “they” has long been a valid part of English grammar, especially the “long been.” Unless one is a 20-something, 20 years is not a long time – and about 20+ years ago is when this particular bit of PC fanaticism began – the same time people were immersed, starting in grade school, in victimhood and became so ridiculously sensitive about …. well, everything it seems.

        If one has become tired of the exhausting effort of typing or saying “his or her” every other sentence, English has a perfectly good neutral possessive pronoun – “its.”
        And “its” has the benefit of two fewer letters, making “its” less exhausting to type or say than “their.”

        • 0 avatar

          It/Its is not a very good substitute as a gender-neutral pronoun. We associate “it” with objects, not people.

          They as a singular pronoun dates back to Middle English. If it was good enough for Chaucer, it I still good enough for me; unless we want to accuse him of being PC.

    • 0 avatar

      “Their” is clunky phrasing, but I’d bet that if we took a poll, we would find a lot of people who are tired of typing and saying “his or her” every other sentence.

      • 0 avatar

        > “his or her”

        When I was in school, the teachers were adamant that “his” was a gender neutral pronoun when used in this context. 13 year-old me thought that was stupid, as do I now.

  • avatar

    “they’re able to bake a personality into their cars that mirrors the car-loving nature of the people creating the thing.”

    Removing manual gear boxes is not “car-loving”
    This is not ace of base at all. Its too expensive for that

    • 0 avatar

      Their rationale is sound, though. Most people buying MTs in the US were buying the GT trim. It doesn’t make sense for them to build cars in a range that few people are going to buy, so they axed the lower trims.

      If you get one used in a couple of years it will probably make up the difference in cost.

      • 0 avatar

        Eh. In couple of years, I’ll get something else. I drove Mazda for 21+ years to date. I will drive one of 3 (all MT) I have now for the next 5 or more years. And then… I am very fond for Jeep Wrangler MT

  • avatar

    $21000 is too much – I can buy slightly used 3 series for less.

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