There seem to be plenty of hatchbacks on the road these days; always a handy combination of pizzazz, spunk and space.

Included are the likes of Chevy Sonic, Chevy Cruze Hatch, Ford Focus, VW Golf GTI (a favorite), Hyundai Veloster, Kia Forte5, Buick Regal Sportback, Audi A3 Sportback 3-tron, Honda Fit, and BMW3, to name a few. Pricing varies as does the image one wants to portray. Our hatchback from the fleet was the 2019 Mazda3, with the Premium Package in the Polymetal Gray Mica with red interior. A different kind of gray, the Polymetal stands out, making its own statement rather than blending in with today’s popular gray and silver paints.

For the most part, we enjoyed driving the Mazda3 hatchback, except when first attempting to go somewhere. We found it necessary to pull out the manual to figure out how to undo the automatic parking brake: Start car…buckle seatbelt…put car in gear and tap accelerator. Doesn’t seem that hard, but it was frustrating. Not all vehicles today automatically throw on the parking brake. The need for it, we’re not just sure, unless you’re parking on a hill.

The other irritating feature was the sound system, operated from the center console (Multi-functional Commander Control), much like Lexus’ system. There were two preset stations (one religious, the other Far Right talk radio: neither one to our liking) we couldn’t get beyond. Never did I figure out how to find other available stations, how to set them or even find something else to listen to. I’m sure it’s much simpler than assumed, but I lost the patience needed, apparently, to get it right.

Somewhat modest, yet comfortable, the Mazda3 interior is small, but accommodating for 4-5. Not much legroom between the rear seats and the front seats for long-legged passengers. The remaining cargo space, with rear seats up, is limited. Nothing about the dash or interior of the Mazda3 stands out. Simple and functional, but nothing worth noting. Standard equipment is as usual including A/C, alloy wheels, AM/FM/Radio Bose (12 speakers), automatic headlights, cargo area light, cruise, daytime running lights, driver/front passenger climate controls, electric steering, interval wipers (we liked this), leather steering wheels, power adjustable exterior mirror, power door locks, power windows, rear window defogger, rear wiper, remote lock, speed sensing locks, steering mounted controls, telescoping steering tilt steering and tire inflation/pressure monitor. Front seats were heated, and sound system includes the Bose 12-speaker and 8.8 inch color display screen.

Options on our test Mazda3 hatchback included cargo mat ($90), floor mats, all-weather ($125), illuminated door sill trim plates ($425), frameless auto-dim mirror ($275), navigation so card ($450), and the Premium Package, including Active Driving Display (windshield), Adaptive front Lighting System, leather seats, black finish alloy wheels, front LED signature illumination, Rear LED Signature Illumination, Power sliding glass moonroof, and paddle shifters. Safety features include anti-theft engine immobilizer, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rearview backup mirror, advanced smart city brake support. Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control, Driver Attention Alert, ABS w/brake assist, front-side impact airbags, Advanced Dual front airbags, side impact and front/rear airbags, along with Lane Departure Warning System and Lane Keep Assist. We had to get used to the Smart Brake Support which let us know with a chime that both brake pedal and accelerator pedal were being applied simultaneously.

Mazda suffered an unexpected fall in sales of its core Mazda3 compact sedans and hatchback. Due to a remodel of their cars and revamped engines aiming to compete with premium European brands like BMW. However, the price increases that accompanied the changes backfired as U.S. drivers continue to prefer SUV’s and larger vehicles.

The Mazda3 is a fun car to drive and agile around turns. Rated by Popular Mechanics to be one of the best Hatch’s on the road, the Mazda hatch’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with 186 horse is spunky and enough for the size and weight of the hatchback. Don’t expect to be overpowered. It’s peppy and might be able to compete with the VW GTI. What you will get though, is the Mazda promise of traditional “fun,” even if the price tag is a tad higher than choices like Kia Soul, Chevy Sonic, etc.



MSRP: $28,900; total vehicle price $31,460, delivery $920, total $31,460, 5 seats

Engine: 2.5-liter, DOHC 4-cylinder, 186 hp, 186 lb. ft. torque.

Transmission: 6-speed automatic, FWD

Tires: 215/45/R18

Wheels: 18-inch alloy

EPA Fuel Economy: 24/32 mpg., up to 26/35

EPA fuel tank capacity: 13.2 gal.

Wheelbase:107.3 in.

Height: 56.70 in.

Width: 70.70 in.

Length: 175.60 in.

Weight: 3,082 lbs.

Cargo volume: 20, 1 cu.ft.

Trimlevels: AT4-door, SKYACTIV ($21,000), Select AT4-dr. SKYACTIV ($22,600), Select AT 4-Door SKYACTIV AWD ($24,000), Preferred AT 4-Door, SKYACTIV ($24,200),2.5 AT 5-Door SKYACTIV AWD ($25,000), Preferred 2.5 AT 5-Door SKYACTIV ($25,200), Preferred AT 4-Door SKYACTIVE AWD ($25,600), Premium AT 4-Door SKYACTIV ($26,500), Preferred 2.5 AT 5-Door SKYACTIV AWD ($26,600), Premium AT 5-Door, SKYACTIV ($27,500), Premium MT 5-Door SKYACTIV ($27,500), Premium AT 4-Door SKYACTIV AWD ($27,900), Premium 2.5 AT 5-Door SKYACTIV AWD ($28,900).

Warranty: 60 mth/60,000-mile powertrain, 36 mth/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper, 24-hour roadside assisstance