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What we're driving: Mazda3 hatchback

2019 Mazda3 hatchback
Mazda3 hatchback. Photo: Mazda

This week I'm driving the 2019 Mazda3 hatchback, which starts at $23,600, but with the premium all-wheel-drive package, sells for $28,900.

What's new: The hatchback's Polymetal Gray is a newly developed exterior paint option that fuses the hard appearance of metal with the glossy smoothness of plastic for a unique look.

  • Inside, the red and black interior's soft-touch materials gives this compact car a real premium feel.
  • It's available with a manual transmission, but my test vehicle had an automatic mated to the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine.

Overall impressions: Like all Mazdas, it's fun to drive and high quality, but the back seat is cramped, rear visibility is limited and the infotainment system is difficult to use, with many tasks requiring at least two steps.

Advanced safety stuff: Mazda's i-ActiveSense suite of advanced safety features is standard on most versions, including a driver attention alert, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic warning.

  • Yes, but: The base Mazda3 doesn't even come with standard automatic emergency braking, which, through a voluntary industry agreement, should be standard in virtually all cars by 2022.

The bottom line: I've always been a Mazda fan, and the Mazda3 is excellent, but a handful of disappointments, like the clunky infotainment system, could cause me to choose another model.