July 1, 2022

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Mazda3 Hatchback’s turbo engine takes the fun quotient up a notch

6 min read

Just last year, the Mazda3 compact arrived with two new features: the optional 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder engine and intelligent all-wheel drive.
This long-running, popular compact line entered its fourth generation for 2019 with sedan and hatchback body styles, and now the turbo is available in both versions.
Our tester for this report was the 2022 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo Hatchback, in the Premium Plus version (base price $34,400, plus $1,015 freight).

As is usual with Mazda-designed vehicles, the Mazda3 Turbo hatchback provides just as much driving fun as it does pure practicality and impressive fuel economy.

It’s also quite comfortable, at least in the front bucket seats, even on long highway trips.
As for fuel economy, which is quite important now with the high cost of gasoline, the Mazda3 with the turbo engine has EPA ratings of 23 mpg city/31 highway/26 combined.
During our recent test, we averaged 27.8 mpg during a week of mixed local and highway driving.
The turbo engine is connected to a very smooth-shifting six-speed automatic sport transmission, with all-wheel drive that kept the car firmly planted even on some unpaved park roads.

Spooling up the turbo power was quick and effortless, allowing us to handle passing, hill-climbing, and freeway on-ramps with ease.
The Mazda3’s Skyactiv-G turbo engine cranks out up to 237 horsepower and 310 foot-pounds of torque when driving on regular unleaded gasoline (87 octane); or 250 horsepower and 320 foot-pounds of torque when running on premium (93 octane) fuel.
We didn’t try the high-octane gas, but even on regular gas, this engine always gave us as much power as we needed.
The Mazda3 Hatchback and the new Mazda CX-30 crossover are built on the same architecture and are close in size. But the hatchback is a bit lower, like a sedan, while the CX-30 has a higher SUV-type profile.
CX-30 does offer the same drivetrain, with the turbo engine and six-speed automatic.
From the driver’s seat, the Mazda3 has the feel of a sport coupe, with tight, predictable steering, and a suspension stiff enough to hold the vehicle in place during sporty driving on twisty roads.

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The automatic all-wheel drive adds to the experience by making sure there is good traction on all four corners at any given moment. This isn’t just something that helps keep the car going on slippery roads – it’s a great performance feature that ensures that this car is fully connected to the road at all times.
Mazda says the new i-Activ AWD system can send significant torque to the rear wheels – three times more than the previous all-wheel drive – to improve cornering. Without all-wheel drive, the Mazda3 is normally a front-wheel-drive car.
The turbo models also come with a driver-selectable Sport mode (activated by a rocker switch on the center console) that includes Mazda’s enhanced “G-Vectoring Control Plus.”

It allows the car to downshift automatically under braking, and to avoid “unnecessary shifting mid-corner to help provide a more-dynamic and natural feeling in and out of corners,” Mazda says.

There is also a re-tuned front suspension that includes stiffer springs and enhanced damping, while still maintaining decent ride comfort.
Our test vehicle came with the Premium Plus package (included in the base price), which added leather upholstery, an auto-dimming driver’s door mirror, front air dam, gloss black rear hatch spoiler, frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, front and rear parking sensors, the Mazda Navigation System, Smart City Brake Support-Reverse, Rear Cross-Traffic Braking, 360-degree around-view monitor, Traffic Jam Assist, and Traffic Sign Recognition.

Among standard features on the Turbo Hatchback are 18-inch alloy wheels, power-sliding glass moon roof, rear privacy glass, dual-zone automatic climate control, Mazda’s advanced keyless entry/exit system with pushbutton start, leather shift knob, and eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support.

 There are two bucket seats up front and a three-person rear bench seat with a 60/40 split-folding seatback. The cargo area behind the rear seat has 20.1 cubic feet of storage space, which expands to nearly double that with the rear seatback folded.
The tires are P215/55 R18, and there is a temporary spare tire. LED daytime running lights are standard, along with the automatic on/off LED headlights.

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Our test vehicle came with the Polymetal Gray Metallic premium exterior color ($395 extra), and with a red leather interior.
The exterior mirrors were gloss black and foldable, with built-in turn signals and reverse tilt. They are heated, and their positions are included in the memory system for the driver’s seat position.
Other standard amenities include rain-sensing windshield wipers, gloss black front grille, 12-volt power outlet, center console armrest with covered storage compartments, and dual front map lights.

Radar cruise control is standard, with illuminated steering wheel-mounted controls. 
Also included are an automatic electronic parking brake, automatic (speed sensitive) power door locks, door storage pockets/bottle holders, front seatback map pocket (passenger side), vinyl-covered sun visors with extensions, rear center pull-down armrest with cupholders, front overhead console with sunglasses holder, illuminated vanity mirror, frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a cargo cover.
The Bose audio system has 12 speakers. There is Bluetooth hands free phone and audio connectivity; a trip computer showing current and average fuel economy and distance to empty, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay hookups.
The Mazda Connect system includes the 8.8-inch large center display, with HD Radio, infotainment system voice command, Pandora internet radio integration, and two USB audio inputs.

Standard safety gear includes advanced dual front air bags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake-assist, front and rear seat-mounted side air bags and roof-mounted air curtain bags, front knee air bags, electronic stability control with traction control, and child-safety rear door locks.
Also included is the Driver Attention Alert system, designed to detect driver fatigue or decreased attentiveness and activate a warning sound and dashboard notice.

Safety technology includes the Lane Departure Warning System with Lane-Keep Assist; rearview camera; Smart Brake Support; Tire Pressure Monitoring; and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
There is sufficient room for two people in the rear outboard seating positions. The center rear seat is best left to kids, and there are connections for child safety seats.

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The ride was mostly comfortable, but not cushy, as this vehicle is designed more for sporty driving. That gives it the better road handling and precise steering, but at the expense of a softer ride.
The base Turbo Hatchback model starts at $30,550. The Premium Plus model we drove is the only other choice in the turbo line. Regular Mazda3 Hatchbacks with the non-turbo 2.5-liter engine begin at $22,750.
Other than the premium paint, there were no options on our test vehicle. Total sticker price for our 2022 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo Hatchback Premium Plus was $35,810, including freight.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Express-News since 2000. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @gchambers3.
 
2022 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo Hatchback AWD

The package: Compact, five-passenger, five-door, all-wheel-drive, turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline-powered hatchback.
Highlights: Mazda’s compact hatchback offers a turbocharged engine option for 2021. This vehicle has a long list of standard and optional amenities. It’s stylish, comfortable and quite fun to drive – a hallmark of Mazda vehicles.
Negatives: Back seat can be a tight fit for larger people.
Engine: 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder, turbocharged.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Power/torque: 250 HP./320 foot-pounds (with premium fuel); 227 HP./310 foot-pounds (with regular gasoline).
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.
Length: 175.6 inches.
Curb weight: 3,383 pounds.
Cargo volume: 20.1 cubic feet behind rear seat. 
Towing capacity: Not provided.
EPA fuel economy: 23 mpg city/31 highway/26 combined.
Fuel capacity/type: 12.7 gallons (premium recommended for best performance, but not required).
Base price range: $30,550-$34,400, plus $1,015 freight.
Price as tested: $35,810, including freight and premium paint (2022 AWD Turbo Hatchback Premium Plus).
On the Road rating: 9.3 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.

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