2022 Mazda 3 continues to be the anti-boring commuter car
Ever since it came out in 2003, the Mazda 3 seems to be somewhat of a cult-favorite.
Sporty-looking, practical, fun-to-drive and inexpensive, the Mazda 3 hits all the high
notes for what is needed to be a great car. A few years ago, we saw the fourth generation
Mazda 3 make its debut, and found that it still carries the same tune. Then last year, the
little Mazda received a new engine, making the 3 even better – and bringing back
memories of the much-loved hot-rod version of the 3- the MazdaSpeed3.
2022 is a quiet year for the Mazda 3 as the only change is the addition of a new
appearance trim level called the Carbon Edition.
As it has always been, the Mazda 3 is available in both sedan and hatchback body styles.
Personally, I have a fondness for the hatchback, but this week’s Mazda 3 arrived as the
sedan. The one advantage the hatchback holds is that it is the only body style that can still
be had with a six-speed manual gearbox. With the sedan, the sole transmission offered is
a six-speed automatic. To be fair, even in hatchback form, most 3s will be automatics –
but I think it’s great to know Mazda still offers the six-speed for those that prefer to
change gears on their own.
The base Mazda 3 sedan is powered by a 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine that makes 155
horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. A midlevel engine is also available – a 2.5-liter
Skyactiv four-cylinder that makes 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. If you want class-
leading performance, the 3 can be had with a 2.5 liter turbocharged four that makes 227
hp and 310 lb-ft of torque (both those numbers go up to slightly when using 93 octane
gasoline). As a bonus, the Mazda 3 is available with all-wheel drive for those who live in
cold climates – or if you simply want a better handling vehicle.
With the turbocharged engine, the Mazda 3 can turn in some impressive numbers. 0 – 60
mph in just 5.6 seconds and can hit the 1/4 mile is just 14.1 seconds. Yet on top that, it
can still bring in a combined EPA rating of 27 mpg (23 mpg city, 32 highway). Mighty
Engines and numbers aside, the Mazda 3 continues as it did last year. Its interior uses an
intuitive, driver-oriented dashboard and console that not only makes the 3 feel sporty and
more expensive than its price tag would lead you to believe, but it’s well thought out –
with every control, switch and dial within easy reach and all are simple to use. And it’s all
done in a clean, uncluttered fashion, which adds a sense of elegance to the cabin. My
tester was equipped with Mazda’s Commander dial-button control interface. While at first
it may look like a version of BMW’s iDrive, it’s far easier to use.
But my favorite feature of the Mazda 3 has always been how enjoyable it is to drive – and
with the turbocharged engine, it makes it especially fun. The Mazda 3 has always been a
good handling car – with precise steering and a firm – but not jarring – suspension, it’s a
real joy to take into turns. And now with all-wheel drive and more power from the
turbocharged engine, it’s even better. The power is great (it’s very linear, without the
surge that might be expected in a turbocharged car) and the engine note has a little snarl
to it, something I’ve always found Mazda’s to lack. The automatic can be a little slow to
shift at times, but shift paddles do help solve that.
The 3 with its base engine continues to compete with the likes of the Honda Civic, the
Toyota Corolla and the Hyundai Elantra. But the injection of the zoom-zoom factor from
the turbocharged engine means the Mazda 3 can compete with the likes of the Civic Si
and the Elantra N.
With the price of everything going up these days, cars included, the MSRP of my fully
loaded Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo with all-wheel drive comes in at $34,710. For a handsome,
athletic, and nicely equipped vehicle, the Mazda 3 sedan gives drivers a lot of car for the
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2022 Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus
Base Price: $33,100.00
Price as Tested: $34,710.00
Layout: front-engine / all-wheel drive
Engine: Skyactiv 2.5 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Horsepower: 227 hp
Torque: 310 ft/lb
EPA Fuel Economy: 23 city / 32 highway mpg
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