By on September 27, 2019

2020 Mazda 3 Hatchback - Image: Mazda2018 was the worst year for U.S. sales of the Mazda 3 since Bill Clinton was president. Back in 2000, the last time Mazda failed to sell more than 65,000 compacts, the Mazda 3 wasn’t even the Mazda 3 – it was the Mazda Protege.

Of course, 2018 was a different kind of year for Mazda’s primary passenger car. Mazda was putting its aging, third-generation Mazda 3 out to pasture in an increasingly anti-car market; preparing instead to launch a stylish new Mazda 3 with an all-wheel-drive option that would (theoretically) steer buyers away from crossovers.

That new car, however, is faring far worse in the U.S. market. Buyers are steering clear of Mazda’s newest car. Year-over-year, Mazda 3 volume is down by more than a fifth. In fact, 2019 is on track to be the lowest-volume year of the Protege/3 era.

Mazda is responding with a 2020 Mazda 3 that will hit the market with a higher base price. And significantly higher equipment levels.

JUST HOW BAD IS IT?

Between its 2012 peak (incidentally, the last time Mazda cleared out an outgoing generation of the 3) and the doldrums of 2019, U.S. sales of Mazda’s compact have fallen 54 percent. There’s been a massive marketplace shift during that seven-year span, but it’s a shift with which some competitors have managed to cope. Honda Civic sales, for example, are 10 percent stronger now than they were when the 3 was peaking in 2012; Toyota Corolla sales are up 7 percent during the same time span.

Mazda 3 annual U.S. sales chart - Image: © TTACThe 3, however, has succumbed. 36,999 copies of Mazda’s No.2 car were sold in the first eight months of 2019; nearly 10,000 fewer than in the same stretch of 2018.

In 2014, the 3 was still Mazda’s best seller, accounting for slightly more than one-third of the brand’s sales. Now the 3 produces less than one-fifth of Mazda’s U.S. volume.2019 Mazda 3 sedan - Image: MazdaIS IT JUST THE 3?

Although the Civic and Corolla are benefiting at the expense of others, the Mazda 3 is not alone in its malaise. It’s old news now that passenger car demand has weakened to such a degree that FCA, Ford, and GM have either pulled or are in the process of pulling their compacts out of the market. Dart, Focus, Cruze? Gone and going. Mitsubishi gave up on the Lancer. The Volkswagen Golf’s U.S. future isn’t bright.

Kia launched a new Forte for 2019, and it’s down 2 percent. Hyundai Elantra volume is off by 14 percent this year. At a Subaru brand that’s reported growth in 93 consecutive months, Impreza sales are down 19 percent this year. Nissan Sentra volume slid 7 percent during the first two-thirds of 2019.

The Mazda’s case nevertheless stands out, not only because of the rate at which sales of the 3 are declining, but because of the hopes that were pinned on an all-new car that earned early plaudits and the nameplate’s past success.2019 Mazda 3 interior - Image: MazdaOTHER MAZDAS TOO?

Given the overall brand’s performance in 2019, perhaps the 3’s difficulties aren’t so surprising. Sales of every model in the brand’s lineup are lower this year than last.

That includes an even sharper 29-percent drop in sales of the midsize Mazda 6 and double-digit percentage declines for the MX-5 Miata, CX-3, and CX-9. Even the Mazda CX-5, the brand’s top seller that benefited from a new high-grade Signature trim level and a newly available turbocharged engine, has suffered a 3-percent slowdown in 2019.

WHAT PRICE INCREASE?

Wisely, Mazda isn’t leaving the 3 alone. A quick response to the 3’s failed launch is coming for the 2020 model year. Hidden behind the unfortunate news of a marginally higher base price – sedan pricing climbs $500 to a $22,420 point of entry; some trims go up $100; some trims remain the same – is a host of extra standard equipment for the new model year.

The entry-level Mazda 3 will now include Mazda’s i-Activsense active safety tech: adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, driver attention alert, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, auto high beams. Auto on/off headlights and rain-sensing wipers are now part of the base 3, as well.

That makes the 3 nicely equipped, but it certainly doesn’t provide it with one of the more marketable MSRPs. The Honda Civic includes Honda Sensing safety gear, but starts below $20,000. Toyota Safety Sense is part of every Corolla, which also starts below $20,000.

A decidedly higher base price helps Mazda on its quest to stand out as a more premium brand. But it doesn’t appear to be doing the brand any favors when it comes time to sell cars.

[Images: Mazda]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Driving.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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142 Comments on “The New Mazda 3 Is Tanking – Can More Equipment and a Higher Base Price Change That in 2020?...”


  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    So being the ‘preferred’ choice of auto ‘journalists’, gear/petrol heads, and offering AWD is not a panacea for poor sales.

    Guess the average consumer has different priorities.

    And as we keep being told by ‘conservative’ commentators, “the market is always right”.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      They chose to make it the anti-crossover at exactly the wrong time. Less practical and more expensive when it should’ve gone the opposite way, but I’m sure it’s helping them move more CX-3 and 5s to people coming off their previous 3 leases.

      I’m buying my 2016 at the end of my lease rather than moving into a new one.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        If they wanted to make it “anti-crossover,” they should have put a LOT more hp in the thing.

        I think there’s a lesson here for manufacturers that want to sell sedans: performance is the reason why people buy them over CUVS, so double down on fast. They don’t need to be WRX STIs, but they do need to have some “whee” going for them. Fun sells. At a minimum, it can’t hurt.

        • 0 avatar
          theBrandler

          110% THIS! I’m one of the buyers they didn’t get. I was all excited about this car until I saw the price and the horsepower. I then went and got a GTI instead. Similar price, way more power and fun.

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        Short tall crossovers could be seen as the less practical and more expensive alternatives to longer wagons, so maybe they made the 3 “too crossover”. Being more expensive means better margins, so automakers just love ’em.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      The Mazda 3 finished dead last in a Motor Trend comparison test with the Civic and Corolla, so Mazda didn’t succeed in buying every auto scribe to the extent that they’d praise the return of the twist-beam.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      well, it isn’t that. it’s that the 3 has not kept its promise of being the fun hatch.
      it is not the driver’s car anymore.
      i just drove a new one right after driving last year’s due to my son’s 09 6 in the shop for a recall.
      the newer 3s didn’t come close to the 05 i have. i was so damn happy to drive by orange sunset 3 and once again enjoy the car as the original designers wanted it.
      the views out side, all around were great whereas the newer models made me feel claustrophobic.
      their feel was gone as well.

      not good.

  • avatar
    retrocrank

    Give it adaptive mechanical AWD with a rearward bias (think 993 C4), the silly acceleration of the twin-turbo RX7 from the 90s, 6 cog manual gearbox, a high-class interior, and delete the “active safety tech” (read, band-aids for the inattentive), and they’d have a car I might want to have. The aesthetics look good and it’s the right size.
    Especially the “active safety tech” – that stuff is a total Retrocrank Repellent. If that’s the future, I’ll keep looking for the right ’64 Scout.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      Great. Sales will then drop to about 12.

      I get it. I want a fun car, too, but what ‘we’ want just doesn’t pay the bills.

      I doubt that the softer performance accounts for the sales drop. The styling may be just a bit too avant-garde for many buyers. I think that most buyers will find the hatch version to be pretty off-putting.

      And for folks who still want performance, choose from the two or three profitable choices left, or get an older 2nd car to toy with. As someone who insists on a manual trans, I don’t know if I’ll ever have another newer car.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    It appears Mazda is moving closer to the point when it needs to seriously debate if USA is a viable market for them. Their current market position is the result of failed marketing and niche product. I say this with love…I have owned 3 Mazdas, but I am fully aware of Mazda’s lack of appeal to the mass market.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      Let’s see how the CX-30 does before edging closer to the cliff. I agree with Flybrian’s comment below that this segment is all about sub-$200/mo leases and at-invoice pricing to move metal (or to rental fleets), but it is still competitive. The sheer number of new Civics I see around here can attest to that.
      While I think their vehicles except the MX-5 needs more Zoom-Zoom, I guess the average American buyer doesn’t want a nicer interior than a Corolla or Civic or better driving dynamics than the Koreans. It will be a shame if Mazda is forced to swallow their pride and change direction and cheapen everything just to compete again. Look at that new Mazda3 interior again and compare it to a Civic, Elantra, or Corolla. No comparison at all.
      I hope they hang around…on a personal note, now that I’ve taken the Civic Type-R off of the shopping list (I just in no way, shape, or form can justify or support the greedy markups that continue to plague that car), I’m giving a serious look at the MX-5 again and I want Mazda to hang around for a long time for repeat buys, service, and just knowing there is a better alternative to the blandness that fills our streets.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        “the average American buyer doesn’t want a nicer interior than a Corolla or Civic or better driving dynamics than the Koreans.”

        I agree completely. Compact cars are purchased by those seeking max value–think smart recent college grad or thrifty Dad looking for a commuter. Those buyers are not looking to drop more money for a near-lux interior. Mazda’s push to go upscale is nothing less than ridiculous. An upscale interior in a mass-market compact is what I meant with the term “niche product.”

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Heck, you can also get a larger Kia Optima LX for <$20K, with the safety features the current base 3 sedan lacks. I see that Mazda Canada still offers cheaper Mazda3's, with the 2.0L engine/6MT (and optional AC). Previously the US Mazda3 came in a variety of trims with two engine choices, maybe they need another base model with the smaller engine.

      The Mazda3 ship has likely sailed in the US, and the CX-30 will likely be more important by the numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      As I’ve commented previously, Mazda is a company about twice the size of Subaru but sells around one-third Subaru’s volume in the USDM and their primary market is outside the USDM. Mazda continues moving toward the decision point of leaving this market as did Suzuki, another manufacturer whose primary market is/was elsewhere in the world. Suzuki left the USDM and is doing very well. Perhaps Mazda should follow their lead. I’m not sure that increasing prices on declining sales volumes in the USDM is a recipe for success.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      Have to agree with R Henry. I am a 4 time owner and would like to buy a new car in the next 2 years. I *want* to like the new Mazda3, but the compromised rear visibility and goofy design from the A-pillar back disappoints me. The interior seems very nice, but the car overall just isn’t a total package that lights a fire. I will take a look at the CX-30 when they come out. I hate to admit it, but at this point the Corolla hatchback is probably the best value proposition that suits my needs although there are a few details I wish I could change about that car.

      • 0 avatar
        MorrisGray

        Spookiness… I agree and am considering a Jetta GLI or the Corolla with manual also. The Corolla has the naturally aspirated motor that I like and the GLI is turbo 4. I believe I could count on the Toyo reliabilty and am unsure about VW. I wish Hyundai/Genesis or Kia offered something in manual with their 3.8L NA v6 motor!

        I really wanted another Mazda sedan with the manual.

  • avatar

    *Its already pound-for-pound more expensive than the competition
    *This segment is all about price, price, and price
    *This segment is also about putting asses in seats. Nissan Acceptance, Kia/Hyundai Finance, and Toyota Motor Credit are WAY more aggressive in that critical factor.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Does Mazda have an in house finance arm? The last time I shopped them a few years back, they were going through Chase.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        Pretty sure they still Use Chase. Was looking recently at the CX-9 and even though prices weren’t crazy town, you just can’t get great deals. Hate to say it but sometimes cash on the hood, 0% and other spiffs are what you need to move the metal. Call me cheap if you want but I’m not paying full price for anything.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      Exactly how is it more expensive?

      Excluding AWD, civic Touring is more expensive than the Mazda 3 Premium Package at the upper most trim. The civic EX which gets the 1.5L engine starts more than the base model 3 which at least gets something more than 158 hp in the Civic LX which does undercut the Mazda 3 at the expensive of the engine.

      Has anyone on this forum actually checked the prices of compact sedans and hatches lately?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The 3’s in a weird spot – too expensive to really compete with something like a Corolla, and not fast enough to be the A-Class/A3 competitor Mazda wants it to be.

    And the long delayed super-engine isn’t going to fix any of this – from what I’ve read, it’ll have basically the same power as the current 2.5. What’s the point – fuel economy? Folks who want that buy Corollas.

    Maybe it’s time to give up on the low end of the market. That war’s over – Honda and Toyota won. Load it up, put the 2.5 turbo and AWD in it, sell it for about $32,000, and see if it can steal some entry-lux sales. Why not?

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      That would start appealing to people like me, driving enthusiasts. The turbocharged A3 I had was very sprightly while fairly fuel efficient. If you can provide that, but in a package with less potential headaches…. now you have my attention.

      Agreed – the fight is over on the Corolla end. The people that don’t understand why this had to happen… don’t understand.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred Orlando

      Agreed- It would be a whole new ballgame with 80 more horses. The rest of the package is a great achievement

  • avatar
    Robotdawn

    I’d be curious what their ATPs are on their new cars. And average profit per car. It’s obvious from their advertising they’ve moved on from targeting 600 credit score 22 year olds to a more affluent clientele. Or are trying to.
    If they are taking a 20% hit in sales, but can double their profit per vehicle it will work out for them.

  • avatar
    Matt51

    Godzilla (Toyota) is slowly strangling Mazda to death.

    • 0 avatar
      thejohnnycanuck

      Are you kidding? Their tie in with Toyota may very well be what saves them.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt51

        Toyota ia avoiding political problems in Japan. They toss Mazda a few crumbs, but not a lifeline.”Don’t blame me, I wasn’t the one who foot stomped them to death”.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I think by the end of the 2020’s, there will be two, maybe three automakers in Japan. Toyota is slowly getting it’s tentacles in all of the smaller players.

      Like the Germans, the Japanese will not allow their car companies to be cast to the winds like we did here in the US.

      Toyota uber alles!

  • avatar
    thalter

    I’m currently cross-shopping the Mazda3 Premium and Audi A3, and the Mazda stacks up favorably in most regards (better quality interior, slightly more spacious).

    However, there are two big issues that are keeping me away from the Mazda: No turbo engine, and the random cost-cutting measures that still belie its econobox origins (things like no rear-seat air vents, no power passenger seat, etc.) I would actually pay a little bit more if they would address both of these items.

    As others have posted, Mazda needs to decide if they still want to be a player in the economy car segment, or become more of a luxury player. It is hard to do both with the same car: Entry levels buyers won’t pay the price premium for luxury, and luxury car buyers won’t tolerate econobox cost cutting.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yep, I own an A3 (the Premium Plus model with the upgraded interior bits, natch) and the 3’s far nicer inside. Better back seat and trunk, too.

      Performance-wise, it’s not even close, though.

      Like I said…load it up, put a real engine and AWD in it, and sell it for about $32,000, and it’d be a very credible alternative to the “name” brand entry-lux sedans.

      • 0 avatar
        MorrisGray

        Mike… What year model A3 do you have? Is the back seat room equal to or larger than the Mazda3? Which engine do you have and does it require premium fuel?

        T.Morris / 2006 Mazda3 5sp 2.0L sedan
        looking for a replacement

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          @Morris:
          Mine’s a ’15 2.0T with AWD, purchased used. If you’re into going fast, avoid the non-AWD models – they have detuned engines and a lot less power. I’d rather have a Golf than a 1.8 A3.

          Back seat room is…adequate, and that’s about the best I can say. My kids are grown up now, though, so I don’t need a huge back seat. Trunk space is tight.

          It’ll run on regular, but it’s definitely happier with premium, particularly when it’s hot.

          Biggest advantage you’ll find over the 3 is performance – this is basically Audi’s take on a GTI, so it’s a hoot to drive.

          If you buy one used, be sure to have a mechanic look it over – these are expensive to fix. I’d recommend buying a warranty, and since these aren’t cheap to maintain, check with an Audi dealer to see if the previous owner bought a service plan, which is transferable (mine did, and that saved me quite a bit of money).

          In my neck of the woods, ’18s with the 2.0T and quattro are going for high-twenties. Mine was $19,000 with 29,000 miles, loaded up with the B&O sound system, nav, Audi sport wheels, etc.

          Folks around here like to complain about the CUV craze, but it’s made lightly used sport sedans a steal.

    • 0 avatar
      MorrisGray

      thalter…. Is the Mazda3 interior more spacious in general? Or in the front or rear specifically? Do you know if the A3 runs on 87 octane gas or does it require premium? Which one drives better?

      T.Morris / 2006 Mazda3 5sp 2.0L sedan
      looking for replacement

  • avatar
    Mnemic

    Since Ford dropped them they have had to charger higher transaction prices, which now has them competing in a different market. They thought they could compete against the CLA with this, didn’t happen. Yeah, the 3 is nicer than it use to be, but people expect to pay Mazda econo-box money for it.

    Its funny because I saw one of them yesterday and thought “wow, I’ve never seen one of those new 3’s before, they use to be everywhere”

  • avatar
    JMII

    Nobody buys hot hatches anymore. Raise it up a few inches, slap on plastic cladding, call it a crossover and they would move way more. As mentioned by others more expensive and fancier is NOT what this segment is interested in. Small = cheap in the minds of consumers. Plus the days of selling cars based on “fun to drive” (zoom zoom) is also gone. Most just sit in traffic playing with their phone. Mazda would be better served by putting a bigger touch screen in then adding AWD or a different engine.

  • avatar
    jmo

    “Between its 2012 peak (incidentally, the last time Mazda cleared out an outgoing generation of the 3) ”

    Just keep in mind there is volume and there are profits and they aren’t always the same thing. Selling 100k units at a loss is worse than selling 50k units at a profit.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I don’t know what it is about Mazda. Over the years I’ve owned several Nissans, Toyotas, and Hondas. But somehow Mazda never makes it to the final buy.

    A few months ago I had an interest in a manual transmission 2014 Mazda 6 but it wasn’t available for a test drive since it was being used as a loaner car.

    The problem with Mazda – from my armchair perspective – is they don’t offer enough power for the class, or anything (other than good looks) that makes them special. A Honda 2.0T or a Toyota 3.5L V6 would be my first choice before the Mazda 6.

    Mazda has to set themselves apart some way. For example, you may quibble about this and that with the Infiniti Q50, but the new 3.0T engines offer a lot of performance for the buck, moreso than the base 2.0T in the BMW 3-series. Plus good (I hope) reliability over the German competition.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike Beranek

      “Mazda has to set themselves apart some way”
      Yeah, check the dash-to-axel ratio, it’s closer to a RWD profile. This is what gives the Mazdas their good looks, but it eats up a lot of room in the rear seat and trunk. Take a look at the profile of the 3 and you’ll see what I mean.
      Maybe this design tilt away from practicality is what’s killing sales.

      • 0 avatar

        I am one of few who do not like long hood and prefer cab forward design from Chrysler. I find Mazda design rather clumsy and unnatural than elegant. Audi is an example of how FWD luxury car should look like. If Mazda wants its cars to look premium they have to get rid of “origami” aspects of their design. They look too “Asian” for my taste. Same applies to Lincoln sedans but in this case they look like FWD blobs.

        • 0 avatar
          Daniel J

          Completely disagree. I think the new S60 and S90 pull it off better, but my Mazda 6 looks better than the frumpy Accord, Camry, and Sonata. I like the Optima, but couldn’t find one with the 2.0T. I also like the new Nissan, but I wasn’t having any of the CVT.

          Interestingly enough, I have more driver legroom in the Mazda than I do with all the mainstream sedans except the Sonata. I just couldn’t get the seats far enough back in the Accord and Camry.

          • 0 avatar
            MorrisGray

            DJ… How tall are you? Referring to can’t get the seats back far enough is why I ask.

            I am shopping for a new car myself and currently drive a 2006 Mazda3 5sp sedan. Bought it new and still like the car and the way it drives. Makes me understand “zoom’zoom” concept. I know it isn’t really fast but it feels fast. I am not young by age , maybe by heart. I just enjoy driving my car due to the feel and engagement. I have owned all kinds of cars, go fast and family luxury. My Mazda3 was one of the best purchases I have ever made for an automobile. I don’t like hatchbacks though and Mazda quit offering the manual in their sedans so I am looking elsewhere because otherwise without the manual I don’t think Mazda is what I want. Nissan has some of the best looking cars IMO but I will not buy their product with a CVT. The Optima looks great but it needs to be offered with the 3.8L v6, kind of like the Stinger but it needs a manual offering with the 3.8L also. Camry is coming out with the new TRD edition and may be interesting to see in person but I have heard that the Toyota v6 autos do not shift as well as the Lexus offerings and Lexus is more than I want to spend on a car. I kind of like the way the Accord looks but it is said that their 6sp manual is rubbery and doesn’t provide any enjoyment to drive. My other consideration is the VW GLI with manual but I don’t know about VW reliability. I hear the new 2019 GTI, same motor as the GLI, has unsolved stalling issues. Since I don’t actually need a car I may just wait but I will continue my research.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I really think that MotorWeek is losing the plot.

        I saw a video of a road test of that gawdawful hatchback, in Premium AWD trim, and not one thing about the visibility that, to my eyes, makes a modern Alpha Camaro look like a 1991 Honda Accord in comparison. (No braking tests, either.) You could probably hide an average single-trailer semi in that blind spot, if not a 747!

        Also, the slalom portion looked like a wallowing mess! Pass!

        • 0 avatar

          All those tests are just bias conformation. Real tests should be done by real people not actors. Like it was done in TTAC when it was still real TTAC.

        • 0 avatar
          Fred Orlando

          I own a new 3 Hatchback. It has customizable blind spot monitoring. But even that effective system is unnecessary if we can ever get away from sideview mirror positions that include views of the the sides of our vehicles. Even though that’s the way it was once taught, there’s clearly a better way. Adjust mirrors to give those views with your head against the driver’s window for that side, and head inline with rearview mirror for passenger side. Then between all 3 mirrors, there really aren’t blindspots. It’s a method that’s been described for many years, but is slow to catch on.
          As far as styling goes I applaud Mazda for foregoing the trend toward the multiple angled plastic panelled boy racer look. Could it be more racy under the hood? Yes. The product is good. The market timing is terrible. I hope Mazda can swim against the current and continue to improve the 3.

        • 0 avatar
          Daniel J

          MorrisGray,

          I’m 6’2 – 280lbs so I’m also a big guy. The 2018 Accord’s seat would not go back far enough. My right knee was jammed into the the dash just under the push button start. Part of this is that the dash sweeps kind of low on the new accord.

          I had no difficulty getting the seat back far enough in a 2018 Sonata or the Camry. The Camry was off my list due to lack of Android Auto. The Regal Sportback also had plenty of room, but was more expensive and lacked certain options that the Mazda 6 had (cooled seats for starters).

          • 0 avatar
            MorrisGray

            Thanks DJ… I do like the looks of the Mazda sedans but I either need a manual or a v6 to want to buy one of their sedans and I don’t like the hatchback at all. How did the Camry drive? Was it a v6 or did you drive one at all? Did you consider the 2019 VW Jetta GLI?

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    We. Told. You. So.

    Also: I hope this makes a lot of marketing departments take notice, all of that positive press didn’t mean a thing for sales. In fact, if a few more people had published more critical reviews it would have been healthier for Mazda because they wouldn’t be caught in the positive feedback bubble that they get from auto-journos.

    Case in point: RCR’s YT review of the previous Mazda3. A lot of the commenter’s on their channel were perplexed that he didn’t like it whilest all of the other reviews before it were glowing. It was a bit contrarian, but he had a valid point of view because he was reviewing it as a regular car (per the channel name) and not as a guy on a press junker.

    • 0 avatar
      3800FAN

      100% you nailed it. Ive been saying the same thing since I test drove the 2014 6 five years ago. I was shocked to find a car that drove like a 90s gm n body,,,not a budget bmw. Mazda got hooked on the journo dillisionment and ignored what their customers wanted. Now theyre paying the price.

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    The 3 sedan is bland and the hatch is just odd looking. Not exactly sure what Mazda was aiming for but they simply missed the target.

    The Civic and Corolla may be somewhat polarizing but both have moved the bar forward in respect to performance and design while it could be argued the 3 has taken a step back.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    Mazda’s awful advertising can’t be helping. I see what they’re trying to do (go up-market), but their ads come off as satire of high-end advertising.

    Everything from the font used in ads that comes straight of out 1989 (which they started using for the actual vehicles’ badges on the new Mazda3! No!), the tone, the weird remix of The Cranberries’ “Dreams,” the cheesy and empty “Feel Alive” tagline, etc.

    The last TV ad I saw showed a young woman in a red Mazda3 going into a tunnel following a red balloon…or something like that? I thought it was a tie-in for the movie “It.” But it wasn’t.

    Mazda’s previous ad campaign — the forgotten “Driving Matters” campaign — with the annoying Aaron Paul voiceovers was bad, but “Feel Alive” is even worse.

    I don’t think going back to “Zoom Zoom” is the solution, but the advertising is actually probably hurting more than helping at this stage.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Mazda isn’t known for putting much cash on the hood to move cars. By the time a prospective buyer has the equipment they want, the 3 is quickly pushing compact CUV territory. It might mean settling for a RAV4 that’s one trim level down, but its crossover status carries its own premium.

  • avatar
    la834

    My take on what’s holding back the 3:

    – the hatchback is ugly
    – also, you can barely see out the back of the hatchback
    – the view out the front isn’t good either – high beltline and cowl, both body styles
    – the rear seat is clautrophobic
    – meh engine
    – less fun to drive than previous model. Ditching the IRS probably didn’t help
    – significantly more expensive than a Corolla or Civic
    – Mazda dealers don’t coddle you enough for it to be a Audi/Lexus competitor
    – and there aren’t enough dealers. I know of at least one sale lost because of this; nobody wants to drive 30 miles to get warranty service when other brands just down the street
    – also, resale value not yet reflecting “premium” realignment

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      I think you nailed all or most of them. The 3 was a great car and good buy in 2014. In 2019, I think it slightly misses the mark.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      But everyone here is so hypocritical. For years everyone on this very site and others complained about NVH and interior quality. So they fix that and now its “too expensive” and not “fun to drive”.

      I get why the mainsteam customer wouldn’t buy this over something else, but everyone here can just “shut it” IMHO. The same kinda whining happened when they made the Mazda 6 larger for the second generation. Most mainstream people felt the first gen was smaller than the competition, so they made it larger for the second gen. Then everyone complained on this very site that they should have kept it smaller and “more fun”.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        @Daniel J, I think there’s just always a certain subset of people in any community who aren’t happy unless they’re unhappy.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        DanielJ – by the time Mazda fixed the NVH and interiors, others had moved the goalposts – Mazda waited far too long and matched what should have been corrected years before.

        • 0 avatar
          Daniel J

          bullnuke,

          What goal posts? My 2010 Mazda 6 was quieter than the same year Accord and was only slightly worse than the same year Camry. Our 2008 Mazda 3 was light years quieter than the 2008 Civic we test drove.

          My 2018 Mazda 6, to my ears, was quieter at highway and city speeds than the Accord Sport, Maxima, and Regal Sportback I had test driven. The Camry was right there and the Sonata had better wind noise but worse road noise. So what goal posts?

          The only Mazda I have ever driven that had worse NVH than its competitors a the time was the first Gen Mazda 6.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    Self-proclaimed Mazda fanboy, here.
    I had a 2008 Mazda3 hatchback all through my college years (2009 to 2012) and beyond. I traded it for a 2016 Mazda6 in October 2015. I still have the 6.

    We bought my wife a 2013 CX-5 in December 2012, and we just recently replaced it with…a 2019 Toyota Highlander. Why? The CX-9, compared to the Highlander, was less roomy but just as expensive. And its resale value was nowhere near the Toyota’s. Visibility was terrible for my wife and I both.

    It made me sad to leave the brand, but I had to do what I had to do. I imagine a lot of other Mazda fans will be doing the same in the future. I just paid off my 6, and now I’m wondering if I’ll be left with an orphan car someday like Suzuki owners were. My 6 is a great car – reliable, roomy, good looking, and economical. But, it has its shortcomings. Getting my toddler son in and out of the back is very difficult thanks to the low, slope roofline. Ingress and egress for the driver aren’t picnics, either, due to the seating position and the roofline.

    I can get in and out of a Camry or an Accord way easier. Should I have been boring and gone that route in 2015? Probably.

    The problems we had with the CX-9 and what we have with the 6 are the same issues the 3 has. Visibility, ergonomics, etc. And, the dealers don’t help. Our local Mazda dealer also sells Fords, and they had 2 CX-9s compared to around 40 Explorers. Our salesman knew NOTHING about the CX-9, either. And when we went to test drive it, it was out of gas.

    When it comes time to replace my 6, I doubt I’ll be looking Mazda’s way. If they’re still in the U.S. market by then.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Off topic, but what is it with dealers not having gas in a car? Do they really think it’s going to sit on the lot so long that the gas goes bad? Any reputable dealership will fill the car up prior to handing it over.

      At least the battery wasn’t dead. I’ve run into that scenario too.

      • 0 avatar
        zoomzoomfan

        I wish I knew. This CX-9 literally said “Distance to empty: 0 miles.” We had to stop and get gas (the salesman put two gallons in) just to be able to test drive it.

      • 0 avatar
        James2

        Running out of gas probably saved me from buying a new (in 2016) Mazda 6. I was taking my 2007 6 in for service and I’m checking out the new 6. The sales guy says “want a test drive?” Sure. One mile later (if not less) the light starts flashing. I say “Oops, out of gas” and drive back to the dealer. Had the test drive been longer, I might have pulled the trigger. I knew all about the car’s lack of power, but it looks really nice and the interior was a clear upgrade over mine.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        the factory only puts in a gallon or two.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Probably the manufacturer’s charming way of shifting cost onto the dealerships – the vehicles have to be gassed up at the factory so they can be driven out the door, and of course the manufacturer has to buy the gas. The less gas they buy, the more they save.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          The manufacturer generally reimburses the dealer for the customer’s first fill-up, so this is not necessarily a cost-shifting thing.

          Putting in less fuel at the plant can save on shipping costs – even to the point of allowing more vehicles per carrier (if the load is ‘weighing out’ before it ‘cubes out’).

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I wonder how many potential buyers simply switched to CX-3s.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    The 3 is better than the Corolla, Civic (especially with Honda’s prolific oil-fuel dilution issues affecting the 1.5 liter turbo motor, along with funky styling), Elantra, Focus, Cruise or just about any other compact car, but –

    1) That’s not saying a whole lot given how milquetoast the whole compact segment is.

    2) The Mazda 3 is ridiculously overpriced based on MSRP and especially in terms of real world ATPs (a Honda Accord Sport that has more standard equipment by far, and is much larger, more powerful, better finished inside, with an Audi-like interior/gauges is available for around 23k plus TTL if one knows how to bargain, and an Accord LX is about two grand less).

    3) Mazda’s North American Dealership Network is terrible in terms of the lack of even a reasonably adequate footprint (dealerships are few and far between and poorly staffed), and hit-or-miss good customer service (in past, I’ve experience customer service ranging from excellent to atrocious when I owned two Mazda vehicles).

    4) Mazda needs to shed its schizophrenia; is it an all-in sports/sporty vehicle maker, catering to a an ever shrinking pool of enthusiasts, or does it want to sell more vehicles to those buyers in the fattest portion of the buyer curve (if so, soften the suspensions, add much more sound-deadening foam/insulation, put out a longer powertrain and b2b warranty than Honda or Toyota – maybe even match Hyundai/KIA, and add dealerships in heavily populated metro areas, along with a much larger inventory on dealer lots, while retraining sales and service staff to do the Lexus-light customer
    treatment as an added comparative advantage to Honda, Toyota, etc.)?

    Mazda makes a better quality, more reliable vehicle, segment to segment matchup, for the most part, than Honda or Toyota (although Accord is better than 6, CX5 is best small CUV, 3 is near top of compact car class, CX-9 is pretty competitive, but too pricey) with better interiors and styling (Accord excepted), also. They lack the infrastructure that Honda and especially Toyota, or even Hyundai, KIA, or Nissan have in terms of footprint/sales/service.

    Mazda has an identity crisis. If they want to truly move upscale, and be a less expensive alternative to Audi, yet beat VW, they need to soften their suspensions, quiet their interiors, and greatly enhance both their dealership experience and increase their number of dealerships, while improving their warranty AND UNVEIL MORE MODELS FOR a much greater selection of product to choose from.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Mazda makes a better quality, more reliable vehicle, segment to segment matchup, for the most part, than Honda or Toyota”

      What is your rationale on this exactly?

      “They lack the infrastructure that Honda and especially Toyota, or even Hyundai, KIA, or Nissan have in terms of footprint/sales/service.”

      Agreed.

      “Mazda has an identity crisis. If they want to truly move upscale, and be a less expensive alternative to Audi, yet beat VW, they need to soften their suspensions, quiet their interiors, and greatly enhance both their dealership experience and increase their number of dealerships, while improving their warranty AND UNVEIL MORE MODELS FOR a much greater selection of product to choose from.”

      I agree with all this but I also pose the question, why does Mazda need to exist? I mean I’ve always asked that question but especially in the here and now. Several of the comments of previous Mazda owners espouse how the brand is no longer building a driver’s car… so what is Mazda supposed to be exactly?

    • 0 avatar
      johnds

      DeadWeight is the Norm of Mazda! Always spewing erroneous and misleading facts about reliability and whats better based solely on being a Mazda salesman, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Yeah, Jon, not only do I not work in the auto space, but I SOUND LIKE A HUGE MAZDA FANBOY WRITING THE FOLLOWING:

        “but –

        1) That’s not saying a whole lot given how milquetoast the whole compact segment is.

        2) The Mazda 3 is ridiculously overpriced based on MSRP and especially in terms of real world ATPs (a Honda Accord Sport that has more standard equipment by far, and is much larger, more powerful, better finished inside, with an Audi-like interior/gauges is available for around 23k plus TTL if one knows how to bargain, and an Accord LX is about two grand less).

        3) Mazda’s North American Dealership Network is terrible in terms of the lack of even a reasonably adequate footprint (dealerships are few and far between and poorly staffed), and hit-or-miss good customer service (in past, I’ve experience customer service ranging from excellent to atrocious when I owned two Mazda vehicles).

        4) Mazda needs to shed its schizophrenia; is it an all-in sports/sporty vehicle maker, catering to a an ever shrinking pool of enthusiasts, or does it want to sell more vehicles to those buyers in the fattest portion of the buyer curve…

        YOU FAIL READING COMPREHENSION 101.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The Mazda band keeps playing the rotary tune while the ship is sinking.

    They need to copy a page from the recent Mitsubishi playbook – offer a couple unique things that hit ’em where they ain’t. Only internet drivers want “zoom zoom” anymore.

  • avatar
    stuki

    In general, I can’t think of a more unforgiving position to be in, than having to compete with Toyota and Honda in what those two consider a core market.

    It doesn’t help if you are trying to stand out at least partially by way of sophisticated design. Americans are slobs. I’m a slob, and I’m not that weird. I almost feel bad getting a nicely designed, “luxuriously appointed” car. Especially if it is more expensive than alternatives. As that would almost make me feel compelled to, like, shower, and, like, shave and stuff. And wear something other than short gay running shorts, a wife beater and no shoes.

    And, again, most Americans are similar (well, maybe not the gay shorts….Yet. But that will no doubt change as well, as gayshorts are simultaneously comfortable and, by virtue of being small, extend the duration between when you have to bother doing laundry….) Even many who like to think of themselves as spiffy dressers in their Brionis and Tom Fords, don’t seem to be aware that such a thing as a pressing iron even exists. America is just not a market where sophisticated design is even understood. Much less appreciated.

    Middle aged Kardashians; falling out of pimptrucks, lipstick-stained white-leather Rolls Royce interiors (and their too-tight clothes); is “luxury” in America. How will arch-Japanese Mazda ever compete with that?

  • avatar
    James2

    Someone in my condo bought a new 3 sedan. (What, not a CUV? Must be a commie..) I’m a Mazda fanboy, having owned 4 in the past, my current is a 2007 6. I want to like the new 3, but… I can’t.
    1) it’s as big as my 6 –and my little brain can’t wrap itself around that fact.
    2) no power. I want a V6. I will settle for the CX-5’s turbo four, however.
    3) Mazda went backwards replacing IRS with a beam axle.
    4) it’s not the car’s fault, but I hate the pretentious ads.
    5) I think the old 3 actually looks better, it has more character. May not be as “refined” but I’ve never had a problem dealing with road noise.

    • 0 avatar
      madferret9

      Definitely agree on this. I have a 2007 Mazda 3, 12 years old original owner. Last year when I was car shopping, I was ready to love the new Mazda 3, but I hated it. The visibility was horrendous, road noise was not improved, the interior felt more cramped and claustrophobic, and it just wasn’t fun to drive. Skyactive engine was anemic despite having 31 more HP on paper. Outdated infotainment system and the price has gone up significantly. I also think they should’ve stuck with Zoom Zoom instead of their boring “Feel alive” or “Driving Matters” whatever it is now. Stop trying to be “premium” Mazda.. you are homogenizing your brand. Their commercials are so cringey and generic now.

  • avatar
    jtk

    I bought a new 3i Grand Touring in 2012. I paid just over $23,000, which I don’t think was a great deal, and now 7 years and 83,000 miles later, it’s worth about $4000. I can’t imagine paying even more and trying to fool myself into imagining that it’s a premium car.

    Another problem they have (at least in my area) is the dealers. They are truly bottom of the barrel. They call me and leave messages about “wanting to get me trade in my car” and they sold my info to numerous extended warranty shysters (to be fair, so did Honda, and I still get offers for that even though my Accord was a 2004 and I got ride of it in 2006).

    Another issue I’m struggling with is the fast that my parents can’t get into my Mazda, and they getting to the age where they don’t want to drive at night, in traffic, etc. It’s only a matter of time until they don’t really drive at all. How could I possibly buy a car that still doesn’t have any back seat room? Unfortunately I see a crossover in my future… a mom with 2 knee replacements and a dad with a bad back aren’t going to appreciate a sporty ride.

    (also, fwiw, when I test drove a 3 in 2012, the range said it had 8 miles until empty. Must be a corporate policy)

  • avatar
    donatolla

    That decline roughly coincides with when Mazda started to lose what made them unique.

    They’re good at making great cars that drive well and are relatively well-priced.

    Well, the latest 3 is slower and not as much fun to drive as the older ones, AND it’s more expensive, so why would I buy it? Because it has a fab interior? It’s not just the 3. The new 6 with the turbo isn’t a better driver than the previous one without the turbo. Who ever is responsible for that debacle should be forced to drive a 90’s Malibu as punishment.

    Mazda has just lost their way. They’re small, and correctly felt they needed to differentiate themselves to make sedans succeed. I just don’t understand why they didn’t realize that they were already differentiated. The sales numbers and reviews backed that up too. Zoom Zoom works. Fancy (expensive) interior doesn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      They spent $200 per unit on better interiors and materials and then decided they were more “upmarket” in order to raise pricing 10%+. This strategy only works in the mind of the business or marketing major.

  • avatar
    finch204

    I am a Mazda fan, having owned a 2010 Mazda3 as my first car. My current daily driver is a 2013 Mazdaspeed3. My wife drives a 2016 CX-5. Here are my thoughts on why the new Mazda3 is not selling.

    – The 2.5L SkyActiv engine, while great years ago, is now mediocre compared to the Civic’s 1.5T engine. It would be okay if it was slow but was competitive or better on fuel mileage, but it is not. Really the main reason to get a Mazda3 over the Civic would be if you hate CVTs.

    – And second, if you are a current Mazda3 owner, there is no upgrade path for you. There’s no Civic Si or Type R to upgrade to. In my case, there’s still no viable upgrade for my Mazdaspeed3 in the current Mazda lineup. (The turbo Mazda6 is the closest one, but they forgot to give it AWD, which would have been fine if they at least gave it a LSD.)

    I had doubts about their move to premium. I’ve always viewed them as a manufacturer of affordable, fun to drive, “bang for the buck” vehicles. Whether or not this move to premium really works out for them I don’t know. I mean, a 2016 Grand Touring CX-5 is luxurious enough for me, all it needed was a faster engine. Did they really need to make all their other cars even more luxurious? This move to premium is making their vehicles heavier, and slower, and consequently less fun to drive.

  • avatar
    goacom

    The solution is obvious and is staring at everyone’s faces. Replace the anemic gas engine with their new Skyactive Diesel – basically the same one they just introduced in the CX-5. Diesels are hot at the moment (look at its impact on the sales numbers of the CX-5) and it will do wonders for the 3 as well. Sure it will add maybe $2-3K to the base price, but that will only add to its premium allure. But then, this premium product is not aimed at the general consumer, but rather the prosumer.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      That’s why the Cruze diesel did so well right?

      Diesel powered small cars do not have a premium image in this country outside of a tiny group of enthusiasts online who don’t buy new cars in the real world. The average consumer or even “prosumer” sees them as a hassle, with higher up front costs, higher per gallon fuel prices, higher maintenance costs, and the dreaded DEF.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’m curious about the straight 6 Mazda are developing. I currently have a 2017 Mazda6 and am leaning more and more toward keeping it. Mom currently has an auto 2018 Mazda3 iSport that does pretty well by her.

    Of course the 2.0 Accord Sport 6MT is still on my radar.

  • avatar
    TheOtherGoose

    I bought a Mazda 3 sedan (Preferred, FWD) and wound up getting rid of it after three months. My problem was when the active braking system stabbed the brakes on the highway — when there was no obstruction present. Since the active braking system wasn’t user-defeatable on the Mazda, I dumped it. I now drive a really basic, cheapo car that doesn’t have active braking.

    Apart from such silly active safety systems (which are now common), the Mazda 3 isn’t THAT bad. For around $25K the 3 provided a reasonable level of luxury and performance at a reasonable price. In normal daily driving, I had no problem with the simpler rear suspension or the engine. For reference, I have previously owned a 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 among other performace cars.

    One thing the 3 offers that most others don’t is a conventional auto transimission. I can’t stand the clunky behavior of most dual-clutch autos. Don’t start me on CVT’s…

    Compared to the cost of the competitive cars, I thought the Mazda 3 offered the best combination of looks, features, styling and driving dynamics. Life ain’t a car magazine review — the subtle differences in cars are lost on the average driver anyways.

    I think the Mazda 3 is tanking due to a limited number of retailers and the ignorance of the average American car buyer.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      There must have been something seriously wrong with the active braking in your car. I have it on my car and it has quite literally never activated and I only remember the car is so equipped when I get the notification that the system has shut itself off, usually when the temperatures are too low and ice could be an issue.

      Of course the systems could have changed in 2 model years and the current system is buggy.

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    The Mazda 3 hatch’s poor sales could be somewhat rectified by creating a lifted version with bigger wheels on it ala Subaru Crosstek. Then again, the CX-30 is essentially that and as soon as it hits the showroom floor and starts flying into customer’s driveways, the Mazda 3 hatch will probably be discontinued in the U.S. market.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Shrinking greenhouse results in shrinking sales.

    (Don’t believe me? Last two restyles were 2013 and 2018 – note the volume drops vs. 2012 and 2017.)

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    In fairness, in the presented image it looks pretty nice. Then I get to that CX-5? rear end where visibility enters a black hole and suddenly it becomes a fail.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Man i gotta read all the earlier comments gut gonna add mine before the mind forgets.

    This comes as a genuine Mazda person. I’ve personally owned 3 since 1999. Extended family another 3. Aunts and uncles with 626s back in the 90s. I believe the Miata is the best drivers care possibly ever built.

    – in my area we used to have 4 Mazda dealers within about 45 minutes drive. There is now 1.

    – the last few times I’d gone in it wasn’t anything special. It wasn’t trash but it was clear that the VW, Subaru, Hyundai, stores sharing the same lot/dealer ownership had more focused dealers and more of an aura to them. The Mazda dealer just kinda felt like the box where you buy a Mazda if you already know you want to buy a Mazda.

    – the new 3 is WAY WAY WAY too expensive. I was really pretty excited about this new one. And then I found out if I want a manual I gotta spend $28,000 or more. Um no thanks. I can get more comfort and room and power for way less at brand that deal more. I’ll settle for an automatic but when I can walk out the door with a Camry or Fusion etc for less out the door for a Mazda 3 even I, a Mazda person and a person who likes driving would still choose the Camry or Fusion over a 3.

    – Mazda doesn’t deal. Maybe sticker is competitive. Maybe people like their cars. But when Ford or Chevrolet or Toyota or Honda or Nissan or VW is willing to bury that hood in cash or subsidized leases, Mazda is gonna lose with the general public that doesn’t care enough about driving dynamics or a nice interior and just wants a decent car at a good price.

    – I’m not sure I buy the power thing. Most people buy base engines and in that aspect Mazda is more than competitive. And their real world mpg is excellent. The number of lost sales due to people wanting more power isn’t much. On the other hand if you’re trying to be more premium than a civic, engine power is part of a premium experience.

    Hmmmm. What else. I’m not sure. Car heavy lineup in a CUV world?

    And I’ll just add that while i don’t like seeing companies abandoning the car market I will admit that so far it’s looking pretty smart.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I’m an old guy, and not interested in something, or anything like a Mazda 3, but just looking at it, and the other recent Mazda stuff makes me think, “WTF is with the schnozz on that thing?”. I wonder how much of the non sales are simply due to people like me, who think it’s ugly as hell?

    • 0 avatar
      madferret9

      “WTF is with the schnozz on that thing?”
      Totally in agreement. It looks like an ant-eater in person, it’s just hideous. The proportions of the front grill are all wrong but I guess that’s “Kodo 2.0”. The sedan looks great from the side, always has. The back looks bad now too, the way the top of the trunk lip juts out, the ugly black plastic under the Mazda emblem sticking out. The forgettable new font choice.

  • avatar
    Acd

    Mazda is having the same problem they’ve had for the past 25+ years: not enough incentives and uncompetitive leases compared to the competition.

    • 0 avatar
      Jerome10

      You know, I suspect you’ve probably actually hit 90% right here.

      Other companies throw cash. Mazda has higher MSRP and doesn’t.

      Americans are broke. They need a “deal” or it doesn’t happen.

      Civic for $199/mo or Mazda for $250? And the Civic wins every time.

  • avatar
    MorrisGray

    Well I was ready to go buy a new Mazda this year to replace the last one I bought new in 2006, a Mazda3 5 speed manual sedan. And not cause I really need to but because I just wanted to get a new one. Maybe even move up to the Mazda6 but there is no manual offered this year in either sedan and I don’t like the hatchback. So I am shopping for something else now but finding it hard to find something else that I like as much as my old Mazda3. I don’t want a turbo motor or a CVT. I could live with an automatic if the car had a v6 or online 6 maybe. But if I get a 4 cylinder it needs to be a manual transmission. I am afraid to buy a BMW or an Audi because I fear long term ownership expense and reliability. My 06 Mazda3 has been a real joy to drive and still is even though it just has the 2.0L motor with about 150hp or so.

    • 0 avatar
      3800FAN

      Get a 2.0 Honda civic. Naturally aspirated i4 and manual transmission. Simple.

      I loved the gen1 3 when it was new, the 6 back then was great as well. Since then mazdas have just become more dull and artifical feeling. Not the spirited fun to drive everyman cars they marketed themselves to be. Now theyre pushing upmarket and while their products are premium now theyre not what most small cars shoppers want to spend that kind of $$$ on. Im not gonna spend accord $$$ on a 3. Or audi $$$ on a mazda at all.

    • 0 avatar
      madferret9

      wow are we the same person? I went through the exact same thing when trying to find a replacement for my 2007 Mazda 3, which I kept for 12 years because I love this car. The old 3 is just better handling + visibility, and fun to drive. Tested an Audi A3, liked it but couldn’t swallow the price ($43k). Ended up with a Subaru Legacy which is a boring car and the CVT sucks, but I live in Maine so AWD is a bonus. I didn’t fall in love with anything I tested, including the new 3, 6, Civic, Accord, CX-5, Camry. Would’ve kept the old Mazda 3 but it’s literally rotting from rust.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      Don’t dismiss the new Corolla with the 2.0 and 6 speed manual without at least a test drive. It is quite a good drive. I was pleasently suprised myself… (coming from someone who has owned 2 Mazdas… and also someone who recalls the Corolla of 2 generations ago being one of the worst cars I have ever driven).

      • 0 avatar
        thejohnnycanuck

        We just bought a manual hatch for the missus in that cool Smoked Paprika colour with the 18 inch wheels and yes, it’s hard to believe it’s a Corolla.

        My biggest complaint is that I rarely get to drive it.

      • 0 avatar
        MorrisGray

        Prado … “Don’t dismiss the new Corolla with the 2.0 and 6 speed manual”

        …. I do have my eye on this vehicle. It does look nice, relatively inexpensive, manual transmission +++, should be reliable, and has a naturally aspirated motor with enough HP on paper. What color looks good on it?

        So did you drive the hatchback or the sedan and how does it drive?
        T.Morris / 2006 Mazda3 2.0 5sp owner

  • avatar
    redav

    Looking at sales numbers is less informative than looking at market share. Plotting the Mazda3’s share of the compact segment per year eliminates highs/lows in overall market and the market’s preferences for SUVs versus cars. It will tell you whether its decline is due mostly to shifting preferences or if it’s due to the car itself being bad.

    IMO, the hatch is a fail. I’m a hatch guy, and I can’t buy this new one. The visibility is a atrocious. The back end is just wrong–the sedan has larger rear windows, and there’s no excuse for not putting the exact same ones in the hatch.

    As for the shift in market price, again, sales numbers are the wrong metric. What matters to companies is profit. If they can increase their margin more than they lose sales, then increasing price is a good move.

    Without the right data, my guess is that the main problem is the collapse of the car market, and the second problem is the hatch styling. After that is price.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      It appears the Mazda3 has been ~4% of the compact car segment for the last several years. So far in 2019, it is closer to 3.5%. But in 2017 it was also 3.5%. It’s low, but not unprecedentedly low.

      Yes, it appears they are losing in the compact car segment, but most of the actual sales losses are due to the drop in the market.

  • avatar
    Alasdair

    Mazda dropping the multi-link rear suspension used by the previous 3 and opting for a cheaper torsion beam setup does not help this new generation, either.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      The rear suspension has had zero impact on sales. No one actually cares. Just like manual transmissions.

      • 0 avatar
        MorrisGray

        ReDav…. I really care about the manual and I really care about the naturally aspirated motor and I really care about the driving enjoyment of the car I am going to purchase. If I am going to buy a 4 cyl I really want a manual transmission otherwise I will lean towards a N/A v6 in something like the Camry, Avalon or ES350, GS350, IS350, or ??? I realize that I am not the normal car buyer because I care about long term ownership. I currently own three vehicles and bought them all new 2002 Silverado LS ext cab, 2006 Mazda3 5sp sedan, 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan 3.8L N/A motor. I still like driving every one of these vehicles and they have all been relatively trouble free. They all run on regular octane gas and have been reliable and I would buy each one of them again for their intended purposes. I may be open to buying a turbo assisted motor but would rather not. I will not buy a car with a CVT. I would really rather have a sedan but will consider a hatchback if it appeals to me.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          “I realize that I am not the normal car buyer”
          “I currently own three vehicles and bought them all new 2002 … 2006 … 2012”
          ___________

          In other words, catering to you will net them zero sales. You aren’t going to buy one because you already have your long-term cars. And there are so few people like you that even the ones that are ready to buy new won’t show up in the sales figures.

          No change in the sales figures is the definition of “no one.”

          And I don’t believe 95% of drivers can tell IRS versus this one’s torsion beam. In fact, if switching to the torsion beam increases cargo volume, the switch will INCREASE sales because their last 3 was kind of a stinker in that dept, and more people care about that than rear suspension.

    • 0 avatar
      3800FAN

      Agreed. An irs you notice with every bump. People dont know if its an irs or not but they do notice if the rides harsh or floaty boaty and with a torson beam rear end its one or the other…which results in an inferior ride compared to an irs which the competition has.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’m sure price of entry is a barrier in the market as it sits today. Mazda might have been better to add a few features here and there to justify a slightly higher price while not scaring people off.

    On the other hand I find it fascinating that there are people who will bemoan the loss of sedans, but will say that I’d have bought one of X Y or Z if there were incentives. Why should the manufacturer incentivize you to buy it if you like it? I know it’s more complicated, but manufacturers have placed their eggs in the crossover basket because they can make the money.

    The way MSRPs are calculated is a mystery to me and I’m not sure how much the eventual incentives are baked onto the leading price. For instance, right now GM is running their $14k off a Silverado special. We’re they expecting to get that all along and just inflated the price to see how many buyers would walk in and tell them to take all their money?

    With that said, the generation is a year old and pent up demand (if there was any) has been satisfied so the incentives will be coming. The new shinies aren’t going to get the same blowout prices as product that has been around awhile.

    I’m waiting to see how the CX-30 is packaged and if it’s offered in a way I would like. At that point I might be ready to pull the trigger, but for now I’m holding tight.

  • avatar
    joc6812

    As has been said, I think most of their problem is a really crappy dealer network. Usually the dumpiest facility and the sleaziest staff in town. Trying to go up-market with their infrastructure is a cruel joke. No matter how good their cars are, that dog won’t hunt. They also offer almost no incentives (unlike everybody else) for lease or buy. The new 3 is the wrong car at the wrong time. Maybe if they bag the new 3 and focus on the new cx 30 and the rest of the cx line, they might survive.

  • avatar
    rotorhead87

    Just went in to look at a new 3 hatch. Can confirm that the dealership was pretty dumpy and the sales person was very uninspiring. Surprisingly, they actually knocked several thousand off the MSRP while they were trying to make a deal. In the end, the car just didn’t do it for me. The hatch has awful rear visibility, handling isn’t where it used to be, and frankly its just too expensive.

    I ended up going to the nearby Nissan dealer (owned by the same people) where they had a low mileage 2017 3 (which I ultimately ended up getting). The salesperson was way more attentive, in fact everyone there was better. The dealership itself wasn’t even comparable, better in every way.

    I’ve read that Mazda is trying to move their dealerships more upscale, but there’s pushback from the actual dealers due to cost. They really do need to fix their dealerships, but its going to be a hard sell.

    Side note: I was trading in a high mileage 2014 3 hatch. The Mazda dealership was going to give me 2k for it. Really? They eventually brought it up to 2.5k, which was still pretty bad. At the Nissan dealership (again, the same company, just down the road) gave me 4k for it right off the bat.

  • avatar
    shortycool

    Mazda decided to abandon their core market by changing the design and style of their vehicles for the 2010 models and making them look like every other high-end luxury vehicle out there. Now there is little stylistic and performance differentiation between their vehicles and every other manufacturer’s vehicle out there; they are now paying the price that decision.

    If you are going to be a leader in your segment of the market, then you have to lead, not do what everyone else does. I originally choose my ’08 Mazda3 for its sporty, aggressive-looking design and precise handling at a reasonable price. There weren’t so many other similar vehicles on the market back then. They took the “Zoom-zoom” out of the experience for me.

  • avatar
    Prado

    There are things I don’t like about the current generation but overall I still consider it a good car. It just is a poor value. I can’t imaging paying so much for a car in this class. Honda and Toyota have also significantly upped thier game with the current versions of Civic and Corolla. The Mazda is no longer class leading in any way other than a nicer interior. Pricing makes little sense too, when you consider the 3 is built in Mexico. There is nothing to justify its pricing in the market.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I think the situation with the Mazda 3 only highlights the problems companies who cannot pivot quickly enough will have trying to shift sedans and hatches in an SUV market. Bigger companies like Toyota, Hyundai and GM will be able to adapt to market conditions. Others will struggle trying to sell in this market. Maybe abandoning sedans works in this market (although I personally think it’s folly), because trying to sell into a shrinking market is highly difficult. Mazda doesn’t seem to have their own finance arm, spotty distribution and were late to the Mexican-assembly party. I hope it works out for them.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    Interesting. All this doom and gloom over Mazda yet they are joining up with Toyota for a 1.6B plant here in Huntsville, AL. I’m certain that the majority of the ownership and output will be Toyota, but why would Mazda bother?

  • avatar
    IBx1

    No turbo (or some high-power variant) and no manual, no sale.

  • avatar
    MorrisGray

    Mazda would also be unique if they offered the manual in the Mazda6 sedan and all trims of the Mazda3. Even if it is a special order. I am willing to order what I want and wait six or eight weeks to get it. But I need that choice to remain with Mazda. I would prefer that they make all the luxury safety features options to add on and not in a general package that increases the price and I have to pay for. I don’t want all of the newest stuff like cylinder deactivation, stop and go start, lane departure assistance, adaptive cruise control and emergency braking whatever it is called. I don’t need all of the parking sensors and cameras offered either.

  • avatar
    MorrisGray

    Has anyone considered or looked at the new Toyota Corolla 2.0L sedan with manual transmission or the VW Jetta GLI with manual transmission?

    They both have my interest since Mazda doesn’t offer the manual in a sedan this year.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I wasn’t targeting a manual but I compared the Golf, Corolla, Civic, and Corolla IM last fall and took home the IM for its JDM assembly (is actually the foreign market Auris), standard motor (multiport FI, timing chain etc), and other standard features (pw, pl, pm). I realize you said sedan, but the IM is now called Corolla Hatchback but is still available in a manual and is still the JDM Auris with federalization. If you can stomach a hatchback it may be worth a look.

      • 0 avatar
        MorrisGray

        28-C-L ….. So you bought the 2018/2019 Corolla hatchback or “IM”?
        Automatic? what are you getting in mpg?

        Actually the Corolla hatch is one of the best looking hatch designs IMO. SO I may consider it but will also look at the sedan version which as I understand provides more back seat room.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I bought the “IM” with auto which is the previous platform (E180) which came here to USDM as a Scion in 2016 but was actually released in 2012. The MY19 Corolla Hatchback (aka Auris) is the E210. I think it is important to note the current Corolla sedan is on the same platform as the Hatchback, but this was not the case with the IM.

          My mileage until very recently has been returning 29.2 mpg with the CVT, in the last week it has dropped to 29 even. When I first bought the car it was more like 26 and change but around 4-5K miles it started to go up.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Auris

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    More expensive my….

    Just looking at an impreza limited after adding moonroof and the cross traffic alert package which is STANDARD on the mazda 3 premium trim comes to over 29K.

    Has anyone on this forum actually checked the prices of compact sedans and hatches lately? Added all the packages to make them similar to what the Mazda 3 is offering?

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    A decidedly higher base price helps Mazda on its quest to stand out as a more premium brand. But it doesn’t appear to be doing the brand any favors when it comes time to sell cars.

    LOL. Yes, because raising the price of some supremely ugly product makes it a premium brand.

    “Mazda. Premium Because We Say So. Zoom Zoom”.

    Flush goes the toilet.


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