Mazda’s next-generation 3 sedan and hatch heads to dealers in March, where buyers can kiss the idea of a “base” engine goodbye — at least until the innovative Skyactiv-X motor shows up. Until then, the 2019 3 fields just one power source: the 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G four-cylinder, which makes 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque.
While the new 3 doesn’t afford buyers any choice in the engine department, its drive wheels are another matter.
Mazda’s i-Activ all-wheel drive system appears as an option package offered on sedan and hatch models, enlivening the rear wheels for buyers who aren’t in the mood for a crossover. New standard tech also appears for 2019, concurrent with the disappearance of a manual transmission in all but one hatch trim level. Look elsewhere, and you’ll only find a six-speed automatic.
Bearing updated KODO design language, Mazda’s 2019 3 packs on extra cost, with the model range starting at $21,895, after destination, for a base 3 sedan. That’s $2,905 more than last year’s base manual sedan. Moving up to the Select package brings the sticker to $23,495, while the Preferred package sedan rings in at $25,095. Going Premium will cost you $27,395 after destination.
Interested in more compact car grip? The cheapest AWD sedan carries the Select package and retails for $24,895, but moving up through Preferred and Premium brings the range to a high point of $28,795.
On the hatchback side, the year-over-year price gap grows. At $24,495 after destination, a base front-drive hatch warrants an additional $4,455 outlay over the 2018 model. Of course, there’s no base 2.0-liter on board, nor is there a manual tranny, which carried a $1,050 premium in 2018.
It’s in the hatchback line where you’ll find the most variation. Mazda plans to offer a front-drive, manual transmission hatch with Premium package for the relatively lofty sum of $28,395. There’s also a base-model AWD hatch for $25,895. The rest of the AWD hatch line runs up the pricing ladder until you hit $29,795 for a Premium model.
The current model year also brings cylinder deactivation to the 2.5-liter, but only for hatch models, Premium package sedans, and AWD sedans. Elsewhere, new gear abounds. Mazda added a new suspension to its 2019 3 and dropped an 8.8-inch infotainment screen into the cabin. An eight-speaker audio system comes standard, as does LED headlamps and taillights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, remote entry, among other niceties.
While sedans start out with 16-inch wheels, hatchbacks gain 18-inchers on the bottom end. Leatherette seating is another standard hatchback perk. Also, while sedan buyers need to move up to the Select package to gain a host of driver-assist features, the hatch further defends its price gain by offering that package’s features as standard.
The i-ActiveSense suite of safety features includes Driver Attention Alert to prod drowsy drivers back into coherence, Smart City Brake Support, Smart Brake Support, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning with Lane-Keep Assist, High Beam Control, and Mazda Radar Cruise Control. Asking for more means shelling out for a loftier trim.
While Mazda hasn’t said when to expect the Skyactiv-X engine, a mill that blends the features of a gasoline and diesel engine for high-compression efficiency, it’s likely we’ll hear something this week. There’s a Mazda 3 first drive event taking place in California right now, and you can bet that question will be on everyone’s lips.