Mazda has made it no secret that it sees itself as a more premium offering than its more mainstream rivals, like Honda and Toyota. Mazda’s sales only represent a small blip in each of its segments, compared to it rivals, but that’s where the good starts. Rather than trying to appeal to the masses, Mazda has found success by positioning itself more as an entry-level luxury brand without the cache of a luxury badge.
In every segment that it competes in, Mazda sets itself apart from the masses with its more premium look and feel. This is easily exemplified in the Mazda 3. From its birth, the Mazda 3 has exceeded what you expect from a compact and affordable sedan/ hatchback. When the current generation Mazda 3 debuted, it was hard to ignore its sophisticated styling and first class interior.
Now Mazda is showing how well it can exceed your expectations of a compact model with the turbocharged version that offers more punch than you get with the Civic and Corolla. Its optional 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder generates 227 horsepower (250 hp on premium octane) and 310 pound-feet of torque. Those specs are higher than anything in its class, as long as you leave out high-performance models, like the Civic Type R, GR Corolla or Subaru WRX.
With that much power on tap, the Mazda3 turbo is s and out with its easily accessible power and refined feel. The Mazda 3 turbo also sends its power to the ground via a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The transmission is short a few gears, but it does what it needs to do. With that much torque, the Mazda3 packs quite the punch from a stop, making you forget all about those other compact models with their anemic engines.
The Mazda 3 Turbo is rated at 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined if you opt for the hatchback, while the sedan is slightly more efficient at 23/32/27 mpg.
The overall driving experience feels more like a luxury car than an affordable compact with its nicely weighted steering and slightly firmer suspension. The ride quality is a bit firmer than some of its rivals, but that pays dividends when you’re plowing through a corner, since body roll is kept in check.
Although the Mazda 3 is designed as a front-wheel drive model, it’s styling with its long dash-to-axle ratio make it look sportier. Good luck finding another vehicle in the compact segment that looks this luxurious. It even looks more luxurious than some entry-level compact luxury models, like the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe.
Inside the Mazda 3 features a minimalistic interior that’s wrapped in high quality materials to give it that near luxury look and feel. Everything looks a class above, which means that you could easily swap out that Mazda badge on the steering wheel with something from a luxury brand and your friends probably wouldn’t even notice.
While we have mostly high praises for the Mazda 3’s interior, there are a few areas for improvement. Starting with the 8.8-inch infotainment system. It looks great, but it’s frustrating that you have to use a rotary controller to operate, instead of a touchscreen. It takes too many twists and pulls on the controller to select what you’re looking for. A simple touchscreen would be a huge improvement here, no one wants a touchpad or dial to operate an infotainment system.
The other issue is space. We’re used to most Mazda models offering a more snug interior than its rivals, but we can’t ignore it. The Mazda3’s interior is less spacious than you get with the Civic hatchback, especially in the rear seats and cargo area. Our six-feet tall friends will likely throw shade out you for making them squeeze into the back.
The pricing for the 2022 Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo starts at $31,915 for the sedan and $32,915 for the hatchback.
At the end of the day, the Mazda 3 Turbo is a stylish, premium feeling compact sedan and hatchback that feels a class above rivals, like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. With its turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive, the Mazda 3 Turbo is also easily rivals some compact German models, like the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe.