2019 Mazda3 All-Wheel Drive: Superb handling and performance

By Autoreviewman

For 2019, the Mazda3 is revamped. Much loved for its sporty looks, and sprightly performance, the new 3 arrives as either a hatchback or a sedan with even sleeker sheet metal and a host of improvements. The new platform is both stiffer and lighter than before for better handling, and there is a new interior with improved technology. Powertrains offering include the latest version of Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter I-4 with cylinder deactivation making 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque, or the 2.0 liter four cylinder Skyactiv offering 155hp and 150lb-ft torque. There is the option of either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. Also of note is the availability of the Mazda3 Sport   with the option of All Wheel Drive via an i-Activ AWD system for the first time. This is a significant development. Previously there has been little choice in this sector of sedans. Now you can order the All-Wheel Drive option on Sport GS and GT grades on both the sedan and the hatch.   We tested a 2019 Mazda3 Sport GT AWD in Mazda’s wonderful Polymetal Grey  metallic that came with such standard features as: SKYACTIV-G 2.5 engine with Cylinder Deactivation; offering 186 horsepower with the Skyactiv-Drive 6-speed manual  transmission with manual shift mode and drive selection  with paddle shifters, G-Vectoring Control Plus, 18″ alloy wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights, LED rear combination tail lights, signature lighting on front and rear lights, automatic on/off headlights,  and much more

Options included the Premium Package ($2,500)  that includes: Leather trimmed upholstery, power adjustable driver’s seat (10-way, includes lumbar support), driver’s seat memory function, Smart Brake Support Rear, Smart Brake Support, Rear Crossing , rear parking sensors, SiriusXM® Satellite Radio advanced keyless entry (proximity and ignition), navigation system, Traffic Sign Recognition System (TSR), front wiper de-icer, HomeLink® wireless control system, auto-dimming exterior mirrors with memory seat link.

 And now to the meat! Mazda’s new i-ACTIV all-wheel drive system sends torque where it’s most needed and works with G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC+) to maintain traction. Advanced Computers and sensors ensure precise torque distribution for maximum grip in both dry and slippery wet/snow conditions. Overall GVC improves overall dynamics and car control. There are now significant changes to the 2.5-liter engine or the transmission for all-wheel drive model, although there is a weight penalty due to the extra driveline mechanicals

Interior wise, the fabrics, textile and plastics are all premium quality. The dash instrumentation is well designed with a nice heft and feel to all the controls. The 12-speaker Bose surround sound system is excellent with near audiophile quality while the latest generation of the Mazda Connect interface is also a joy to use.

Also on the safety front there was also Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring, and Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go function, windshield-projected colour Active Driving Display, and host of other equipment. The cabin’s new design is a step up from the previous model. Fit and finish is extraordinary with premium materials and thoughtful design throughout the dash features an 8.8-inch infotainment display situated higher up and set angled towards the driver. The new “Commander” control knob on the center console, for the infotainment system is now simpler to use and quicker in reaction.

On rough road or the rain we had the all-wheel-drive system and GVC+ kept the Mazda3 sure-footed in the slush by reducing engine torque ever so slightly and applying small amounts of braking to shift weight and power around to keep the car stable. Transmission upshifts are quick. Sport mode offers quicker rev-matched downshifts and holds gears longer. The front-drive Mazda3 hatchback with the six-speed manual would no doubt be a real hoot to drive, but the auto is still good. There is a differences in driving the all-wheel drive and front-drive 3 Mazda 3. Both versions have the same engine and interior features but all-wheel drive adds 173 pounds of mechanicals, bringing the hatchback’s weight to 3,255 pounds. So the AWD is just a tad slower- While, well controlled body motions keep the Mazda3 neutral, and the sharp, communicative steering tells you exactly what the front wheels are doing. The Mazda3’s superbly engineered chassis soaks up bumps and pot holes All-wheel drive should make the 2019 Mazda3 more appealing to consumers living in in all of Canadas snow- prone provinces. The Four-wheel drive along with GVC+ also improves the Mazda3’s driving characteristics on road.   When combined with its elegant interior, the Mazda3 is a compact entry-level luxury car that won’t disappoint.

2019 Mazda3 All-Wheel Drive Base price:  $27,000 Price as tested with options, Freight and PDE: $33,295

Website: www.mazda.ca