We've already talked about the subtle design changes in the redesigned fourth-generation 2019 Mazda3 sedan (more size) and hatchback (more style), but your reaction might change when you see them in person or against the competition. In simple terms, think of the sedan getting more elegant and the hatchback more attitude.
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From the outside, the sedan still offers the subtle angles and curved surfaces in the doors. I worry that some buyers in this class might think this is less about great elegance that instead makes it boring, but we'll leave that up to your personal taste. I do, however, like the updated grille, headlight slit, and the wider and smoothed hood that definitely makes the vehicle appear more substantial.
The hatchback also benefits from the new front styling, but it offers the most interesting detail changes at the back: a slightly narrowed rear window line moving out to the wheel wells. A look at the profile shows the pronounced C-pillar change. The overall look of the new rear gives it a more planted, wider stance, with an integrated bottom faceplate designed to accent the dual tailpipe; that's my favorite styling addition.
On the inside of the sedan — Mazda only allowed us into the sedan during the press conference — the automaker uses new faux leather upholstery with special accent stitching that provides not only a griplike surface, but also more comfortable padding. No doubt some of this has to do with the newly formed front seats. On the dashboard, Mazda designers continue their quest for a simplified look with an even more pronounced split-level set of horizontal lines running the length of the dash, with a newly styled screen (not a touchscreen) between passenger and driver.
In the rear, even with the extra length and size of the sedan, you'll have to be careful about who drives and who sits in back. Children will be fine, but an average adult in front could cramp an adult's rear legroom. Improvements have been made in the width of the rear door openings and footwells, with a deeper cut for seatback positioning; I found it quite easy to enter and exit the backseat.
The key factors of success for Mazda seem to be pretty well mapped out with this new pair and will live or die on how they can match up to the big players in the segment like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Jetta. Still, if Mazda can keep providing buyers with more flavors and differentiation between the sedan and hatchback, that recipe should be enough to keep this new model near the top of your shopping list.
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