Mazda vehicles have always been a bit more fun to drive than the world’s competing Honda Civic, Volkswagen Golf and Toyota Corolla. The 2022 Mazda Mazda3 continues that tradition, but this time with a turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive in one of the best-looking hatchbacks on the market.
The fourth-generation Mazda3 debuted in 2019, but it wasn’t until the 2021 model year that the new Skyactiv-G turbocharged four-cylinder joined the lineup, delivering 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft ( lb-ft) of torque.
This new engine is only paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The combination returns 23 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.
The small turbocharged engine is impressive on the street from a standstill, reaching highway speeds quickly and without drama no matter how hard you press the accelerator. The engine growl permeates the cabin nicely, however, the paddle shifters don’t react quickly enough, so it’s best to leave the vehicle in automatic mode.
The Mazda3 now has a Sport mode button, which makes the accelerator pedal more sensitive and holds transmission gears for longer. The suspension and steering only have one setting, although it’s good.
The all-wheel-drive system sends power to the rear wheels, allowing the Mazda to tail-drag in Sport mode through the snow. The Mazda3 also features the company’s G-Vectoring Control trick, which reduces power just a tiny bit when the steering wheel begins to spin. This puts a bit more weight on the front, which allows for more controlled cornering.
The Mazda3 Premium Plus variant is the most expensive version with a base price of $35,415, but it comes with nearly every option available, including navigation, parking sensors, adaptive front lighting, wrapped heated seats leather and a frameless mirror. For safety, the Premium Plus comes with rear cross-traffic alert with braking, 360-degree monitor, traffic jam assist, which both steers and accelerates/decelerates with traffic, and traffic sign recognition .
The cabin looks premium with black leather on most surfaces. The perforated leather seats feature red accents underneath, giving them a cool look.
Mazda, from its work with the Miata and elsewhere, knows how to craft a comfortable, comfortable seat for a spirited ride. The Mazda3 is no exception.
The Mazda Connect infotainment system is standard with an 8.8-inch screen, controlled by a rotary dial, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Pandora and three months of satellite radio. It has two USB ports and a 7-inch driver information cluster behind the steering wheel.
Mazda used to project its head-up display onto a piece of plastic in front of the driver. The 2022 Mazda3 lacks the plastic, with the information now projected onto the road as is traditional in vehicles from other automakers.
The center console is clean with a rotary dial to control the infotainment and a volume knob right next to it. The dial can be turned, pushed and tilted for all sorts of commands. Apple CarPlay worked quickly and easily. Overall, this system has an easy learning curve, with only a few main controls, but redundant buttons for some important functions and modes.
With two easy-to-install child seats in the back, the Mazda3 is a bit cramped with adults up front. Once the kids are older and the seats are gone, this car would be big enough for a family of four (but maybe not traveling). Grown-ups won’t have any trouble getting a seat in the back either, as the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback have the same headroom.
The base 2022 Mazda Mazda3 hatchback starts at $23,765 (the sedan is $21,815), with this top spec starting at $35,415.
The most basic 2022 Honda Civic sedan costs $23,365, and the top trim is a bit cheaper than the Mazda at $29,965 (though the upcoming Si trim will be closer in power). The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI ($30,540) and Toyota Corolla hatchback ($21,940) round out its competition.
Like the rest of the Mazda lineup, the Mazda3 sedan has moved upmarket, but it still retains the “zoom-zoom” DNA. Young adults and seniors with or without children will find something to love. Those middle-aged adults might just want to wait until the kids are grown up (or gone).