The fourth generation of the popular Mazda 3 small car will launch in Australia in March with a clear upmarket shift. The 2019 Mazda 3 is the first vehicle from the Japanese brand adopt a new philosophy dubbed Mazda Premium, bringing a higher level of specification and technology while prices rise commensurately by around $3,500 over the outgoing vehicle, with the new range commencing from $24,990 list (driveaway prices not yet available).
The two familiar body styles return – both a hatch and sedan will be offered, with no cost difference, as do 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol four-cylinder engines, but there’s a new naming structure for the range.
Commendably, a six-speed manual gearbox will continue to be offered on every variant, while the six-speed automatic that accounts for 90% of sales is now a $1,000 upgrade.
The familiar Neo and Maxx name plates have been dropped at the lower end of the range, and the Neo concept – a low-$20,000s entry model with minimal equipment – has not been renewed. Like the Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, the Mazda 3 range no longer sports a traditional base model.
That’s a move that the brand argues makes plenty of sense. Until the early 2010s, the base model accounted for over half of Mazda 3 sales before that figure fell off a veritable cliff in 2013. Last year, the 3’s Neo Sport base grade accounted for just a tenth of sales.
The G20 and G25 engines are largely carried over from the outgoing vehicle. The 2.0-litre G20 produces 114kW/200Nm while the 2.5-litre G25 makes 139kW/252Nm.
Later, a supercharged petrol engine dubbed the Skyactiv-X will arrive with world-first spark controlled compression ignition technology. This engine will be both the most economical and the ‘warmest’ choice in the lineup when it arrives closer to Christmas. Chasing Cars predicts the Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X will produce around 130kW.
The new entry car is the G20 Pure ($24,990 manual, $25,990 automatic) – G20 meaning a Skyactiv-G high compression petrol engine, with two litres of capacity. The Pure is essentially a ‘tier two’ car, or what would previously have been regarded as a Maxx Sport.
In order to meet demanding ANCAP crash avoidance technology standards, and thus be in a position to potentially receive a five star crash rating, even the Pure is heavily stacked with safety tech. Rangewide standard fare includes forward and reverse AEB, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane keep assist, driver attention monitoring, traffic sign recognition, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
Sixteen-inch alloy wheels are fitted to the Pure, along with automatic LED headlights – plus auto wipers. Inside, there’s an entirely new infotainment system with an 8.8-inch central screen with navigation, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The driver has the use of both a 7-inch digital display and a windscreen-projected head-up display: a feature Mazda are particularly proud of.
There’s cloth on the Pure’s seats and perhaps the only elements we’ll need to be convinced about is the fact the entry car – despite being a $25k+ proposition – does not receive a leather steering wheel or gear shifter, nor rear air vents.
From the Pure, it’s a $1,700 jump to the G20 Evolve ($26,690 manual, $27,690 auto). That spend looks to be money well spent, with the Evolve picking up the aforementioned omissions – leather on the wheel and shifter, plus rear vents – along with 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, paddle shifters, a flip-down rear armrest and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.
The final two-litre trim is the G20 Touring ($28,990 manual, $29,990 auto), which is a $2,300 uncharge over the Evolve. The Touring swaps out the cloth seats for black leather pews with 10-way power adjustment for the driver with lumbar and two-position memory, and you get full keyless entry.
From the G20 Touring it’s a $500 upgrade to the G25 Evolve ($29,490 manual, $30,490 auto)…which means a step back in trim, but an extra half a litre of displacement for outputs of 139kW/252Nm. The G25 Evolve does pick up full keyless entry plus 10-way power adjustment for the driver’s seat, but on cloth trim.
At this point you start getting into the luxe end of the Mazda 3 lineup. The G25 GT ($33,490 manual, $34,490 auto) brings back a familiar badge and adds black leather back in, plus heated front seats and a warmed steering wheel, a 12-speaker Bose stereo, and illuminated vanity mirrors.
Finally, the flagship is the G25 Astina ($36,990 manual, $37,990 auto) which has unique 18-inch wheels, a choice of leather colours (black or burgundy on the hatch, black or pure white on the sedan), a sunroof, 360-degree parking camera, semi-autonomous cruising, front cross traffic alert, full infrared-based driver monitoring, plus AEB support for the rear cross traffic detection system.
The Astina’s additional suite of safety technology can be optioned in to any lower variant for a fixed $1,500 fee by ticking the Vision Technology package. The only additional uncharge is $495 for any of the three premium paints – Soul Red Crystal, Machine Grey, and the exclusive-to-hatch Polymetal Grey. In these photographs, you’re seeing Soul Red Crystal and Polymetal Grey Astina hatchbacks.
The hatchback is arriving in Australia ahead of the sedan and we will only be driving the five-door variant at the new 3’s launch next month.
Mazda Australia expect the hatch to represent 60% of sales with the sedan bringing up the rear with 40%. The two-litre engine should account for two-thirds of volume.
Speaking of volume, in line with the new 3’s move to slightly more upmarket territory, Mazda Australia expect sales to dip from their current level to around 20,000 units per year, or around 1,700 per month. Managing director Vinesh Bhindi says that buyers who would otherwise have looked for a circa-$20,000 Neo grade may well be suited by a CX-3 or Mazda 2.
A crash rating has not yet been awarded to the 2019 Mazda 3, but the brand are hoping for a five-star result, especially after incurring substantial costs to equip the entire range with a comprehensive suite of technologies.
Servicing pricing is not yet available for the new-generation vehicles but Chasing Cars understands that scheduled maintenance intervals remain the first of either a year or 10,000 kilometres.
We’ll be at the new Mazda 3’s launch in country New South Wales in a month’s time, when we will have comprehensive opinions on the driving dynamics and interior fit-out.
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