Mazda3 Sets the Bar

We test drove the Mazda3 Sedan and the Hatchback verson.  Both of the 2022 models were the Turbo Premium Plus variants featuring the 250-hp 2.5 Turbo engine

Mazda continues to deliver vehicles with a premium feel at an affordable price which stand out in their comparable segments for spirited drive and nimble handling.  The compact Mazda3 sedan and hatchback uphold the reputation, with the average Mazda3 still priced under $30K.

2023 saw a price increase for the Mazda3, but it’s substantiated by its more powerful base engine and a better-equipped list of standards.    The 3’s previous base engine, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, was dropped for the new model year.  The 2.5-liter four-cylinder, previously offered as an upgrade last year, is the new base engine, delivering 191 hp.  The brisk 250-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four is still available on higher trims and is standard on the Premium Plus model.

All-wheel drive is now an option for Mazda3 and standard with the turbocharged models.  The AWD drivetrains are, however, only available with automatic transmission.  Some driving enthusiasts will choose the mid-range Premium trim non-turbo hatchback with front wheel drive—the only remaining Mazda3 with a six-speed manual option.

An 8.8-inch infotainment display supporting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard on all trims. Every model also boasts standard driver-assistance technology that includes forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, automated emergency braking and automatic high-beam headlights. Trim level upgrades add a 12-speaker Bose stereo system, leather upholstery, heated front seats, power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory settings, a head-up display.

The bottom line:  Sedans and hatchbacks are now the anomaly in a sea of crossovers.  In the compact car segment, survivors among the affordably priced contenders are delivering new iterations that are more fun to drive, with Mazda setting the bar.

Read The Savvy Driver’s post to compare compact SUV choices