I am a millennial. At least, I think I am. I have been told so by many people (mostly older) and therefor I take it to be true. Being a millennial, all hope nearly seems lost. High college debt, unaffordable housing, and overall being looked at as ‘lazy’ makes a lot of things seem bleak. But one industry in specific is starting to move towards and cater our generation. That would be the automotive industry.
The automotive industry is ever changing and conforming to better meet the needs of a more youthful society. More affordable lease deals, more technology and safety features, and best of all, black rims. When handed the keys to a 2019 Mazda 3 Hatchback I was rather indifferent. I have ridden in older generation Mazda 3’s and found them to be fine but nothing over the top. I then proceeded to walk out to the car, find the unlock button on the gloss black rectangular key fob and hop in the drivers seat. My mind had instantly changed on my perception of what Mazda is as a brand.
Interior Goodies… And There’s Lot’s of Them
Before hopping right into the tech of the car, I instantly noticed the extremely sophisticated interior design and the overall build quality of the cabin. The first thing you notice is the steering wheel. The cold, tightly wrapped leather on the steering wheel is something I had only felt in higher end luxury cars, not small, commuter Mazda’s. I inspect the steering wheel a tad more and notice the brushed aluminum buttons that control things like hands free calling and cruise control. The horn/airbag/central hub on the wheel is also following a new design trend. Many brands have decreased the size of that bit in the past few years to give the driver more access to certain buttons and more visibility out the top of the wheel. It gives the wheel a very sporty and modern look without losing any safety features.
Moving to the rest of the interior, the dashboard on the passenger side flows very well. A long piece of plastic chrome runs along the whole dashboard and gives the interior a sense symmetry. The interior is very reminiscent of classic Datsun’s from the 80s. Both have small rectangular vents and very straight forward and sharp dashboards.
The central controls are very user friendly and do not distract from driving. 2 small chrome dials are used to control the dual climate temperature controls. The rest of the user interface is controlled by a bigger round dial on the center console. This controls the 7-inch LCD display screen centered directly to the right of the driver. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both integrated into the car and can be connected to via bluetooth.
Styling for the Future
There is not a whole lot of exterior chrome and that is a good thing. Instead of adding tons of chrome, they decided to make it a gorgeous gloss black. This gloss black is heavily noticed on the front grill and the piece under the headlight. The front grill is immaculate. When looked at at first glance, it appears to be a honeycomb of sorts, but when examined up close, the pieces are in the shape of an arrow, and each arrow individually juts out of the front end of the car. The other most noticeable aspect of the car is the popping red paint. Known to Mazda as Soul Red Crystal, this paint will run you some extra money, but the sheer beauty of it alone should be enough to justify the expenditure. Its subtle in the dark but pops in the light with the extra metallic flake.
The overall car has the same general body shape of many other hatchbacks, nothing too crazy but it flows very well. The part where the car gets interesting yet again is towards the rear end. An aggressive, long black spoiler sits just above the rear window giving the car a very sporty and sleeked back look. The taillights have also been designed amazingly. There is no rounded taillight housing. Instead, you can see and feel all of the curves and flow of the taillights. The exhaust looks menacing coming out of both sides of the car. The chrome style tips add a lot to the rear end and make the car look even that much cooler. The bottom of the rear end is also a gloss black, setting a good contrast between the red and black.
The best thing about the exterior styling of the car is that there is no plastic bits to be found except for a small part on the front end. Painted side skirts and front and rear bumpers don’t leave any room for plastic and it greatly enhances the car. The rim design is rather generic but compliments the styling of the car well. Although I would prefer to have gloss black rims, the factory dark grey does look quite sharp.
Fitting for Any Adventure
I was surprised to hear that this car was all wheel drive. Normally when I think of small hatchbacks I instantly think of front wheel drive so I was excited to see what the difference would be. Starting my drive, I hop on the freeway and can instantly tell that the engine is rather peppy. The 2.5L 4-cylinder pushes out 186 horsepower which is more than plenty for a car this size. Gas mileage comes in at 24 City and 32 Highway which is about what is expected, nothing over the top but it will do. When merging off of the freeway, I instantly notice how tight the handling feel is. It reacts properly and is not sloppy. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of under steer largely due to the all wheel drive system. Being it is summer, I cannot fully say how amazing the all wheel drive system is in winter time conditions, but I assume it handles spectacularly.
While on the topic of driving, this car is very versatile. Being a hatchback it has quite the trunk space and would be perfect to take on any camping or skiing trip especially with the added all wheel drive system. The rear seats also fold down to give the user even more space.
As I was driving along, I noticed a little dial that said the word ‘Sport’ on it. Without hesitation, I instantly flicked the switch and, unlike most cars, it actually made a difference. While in sport mode, the car holds you in gear longer, letting you rev out farther and letting you accelerate quicker. Sport mode also makes a noticeable difference in engine noise. For the most part, the engine just sounds more audible but by no means too loud.
Driving at slower speeds is also very enjoyable due to the comfort of the suspension. When in the ‘Normal’ driving mode, the car is quiet and content. It feels great and is all around very enjoyable. As I went through some twisty back roads at roughly 25mph, the car felt great. It gives you the sense of speed when in fact you are going under the speed limit.
A Final Word
When I initially hopped in behind the wheel, I thought the car must be the highest end ‘Premium Package’. To my surprise, the car was a very base spec. I had never seen a car to this level and be a base spec for its shockingly affordable price, it does not seem possible. The price of $25,000 gets you one very decked out car. The quality and amount of detail packed in the interior and exterior was not how I remembered Mazda. Mazda has made drastic changes to its brand to better conform to a target market of millennial’s; and that’s not such a bad thing. They even decided to keep the manual transmission around for this car and kudos for that, but all in all, this is the car catered towards the millennial. Mazda has moved its company forward and other brands will soon follow in their footsteps.