Once upon a time the favoured choice of consumers in the market for a bit of sportiness in a category of reasonable cars, the Mazda3 has – like many others – taken a beating in the stampede of motorists to the utility-vehicle segments over the past ten years.
Sales of the beloved little car have fallen alarmingly, in fact. What will happen to this compact car, so nimble, responsive and reliable, if no one buys it anymore? OK but before we all panic, let’s be clear that we’re not there yet, and Mazda has no intention – at least not yet – of killing its 3, especially since it’s just given the model a comprehensive overhaul for 2019.
I had the opportunity to test drive a GT version of the sedan, just after doing the same with an equally well-equipped Mazda3 Sport. The only difference between them really is the latter’s all-wheel-drive system, new for 2019. The sedan, for its part, is based on the same proven recipe that Mazda’s bene using for years, that is to say it’s a sedan with front-wheel drive managed by a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Compact format, really?
Like so many vehicles in so many categories, the Mazda3 has grown in size over the years. To the point where a few people who ventured to talk to me about the car I was driving for the week couldn’t get over the fact this is a 3. Even I, so used to driving the latest overgrown editions of cars, found myself thinking I was at the wheel of a modernized version of the first-gen Mazda6. But not so: In fact, a bit of research revealed that the new Mazda3 is wider and taller and has a longer wheelbase that the 6 sedan of the 2000s! Only in terms of total length is the new ‘compact’ smaller than the first ‘mid-size’ 6. Tells you a lot about the way vehicles are becoming ever-larger.