Who here doesn’t like a hatchback? If you don’t, get out! Just kidding, we’ll take any and all reader. Please don’t leave. If you aren’t a fan of the hatch, let me help bring you over to the correct side. The hatchback is all things to all people, it’s not only practical, but with the right drivetrain it’s a lot of fun too. Somehow it manages to be both small and large at the same time. So, in the name of science I spent a week in the 2022 Mazda Mazda3 Hatch Turbo Premium Plus. It’s a long name to be sure, but is it any good? Let’s find out.
Mazda3 Hatch Overview
Mazda keeps their 3 sedan and hatchback in separate places on their website. Perhaps it’s because they only have a handful of cars. While there are several SUVS available, technically there are only two cars – the Mazda3 and the Miata. So, I guess I don’t blame them for listing the sedan and hatch version of the Mazda3 as two distinct cars. Both versions are great looking options in the compact car segment. The 3 has been in production since 2003 and we are now in the fourth generation (designated BP) that kicked off deliveries in 2019. So, the 3 is, well three years old at this point.
It’s available in a ton of trim levels starting at $23,100 for the base 2.5 naturally aspirated S up to the near $35,000 top spec 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus. The latter is, unsurprinsgly, the one they sent us to drive for a week. Usually is.
The regular 2.5T is actually already pretty loaded. You get standard AWD, a six-speed automatic, plus it comes with the bigger engine, a 2.5L turbo-four cylinder. Interestingly you have a choice of gas quality you put in your 3, but it’ll cost you on performance numbers. It’s got 227 hp and 310 lb-ft on the regular stuff and 250 hp and 320 lb-ft on 93 octane gas. The regular 2.5 Turbo also has upgraded 18-inch black wheels, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a heated steering wheel on top of the lower trim stuff.
Upgrade to the Premium Plus package and you’ll get even more goodness like:
- Leather seating surfaces
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Auto-dimming driver’s side mirror
- Top mounted rear spoiler
- Traffic Jam Assist (partial driving automated assistance)
- Rear automatic braking
- Surround-view camera system
- Universal garage door opener
Our tester has optional snowflake white pear paint ($395) and…well that’s it. It’s a good looking thing, let’s see how this $35K hatch does during a week of daily driving.
Mazda3 Hatch Inside & Out
Damn, seriously, this is a good looking car, just look at it up there. Mazda has been making some great looking vehicles and the proportions of the Mazda3 are just excellent. While a lot of other automakers are over-designing their cars with extra angles on every surface, the 3 looks taut and purposeful. It’s got plenty of black accents across the exterior and a sporty looking dual exhaust. People are down on black wheels these days, but I think the gloss black looks great paired with the creamy white paint.
On the inside it’s full of premium looking materials. Mazda seems to be having a hard time breaking up with “piano black” which shows every dust particle, fingerprint, and booger, but overall it’s a nice design. Mazda delivers a great driving position with great bolsters on the seats and a “just right” sized and placed steering wheel.
From a tech perspective, it’s a mixed bag. While the infotainment software isn’t bad, and you get standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, Mazda still doesn’t have a touchscreen in the Mazda3. So you have to deal with the wheel mounted behind the shifter. It’s fine, and I’m sure owners get pretty used to it, but I found myself having a hard time getting around from section to section. Thankfully there are a few hard buttons next to it for common functions.
And hey, at least it’s got a real volume button.
The overall length is 3.4 inches shorter than a comparable 2022 Civic hatch, and while front legroom and headroom are about the same, the space compromise in the 3 comes from the back half of the car. I found the rear seat to be a bit tight, well my daughter did, I didn’t need to sit back there. The sloping rear design makes getting in and out without hitting your head tricky.
Rear legroom is a couple of inches less than the Civic hatch and there are 4.4 additional cubes of space to be found in the back of the Honda. The latest Impreza hatch is closer in measurements to the Mazda3, particularly with regard to cargo space and legroom.
Also I did this on the social medias, I’m sorry.
Overall, the small foibles with the infotainment system didn’t ruin my experience in the Mazda3 hatch. It’s a gorgeous car with a solid drivetrain. Out on the highway, it had plenty of oomph and the usual zoom-zoom’y suspension is a great mix of sport and pliability. The ride is firm but it absorbed bumps quite well. That sloping rear that affects rear seat entry and exit also makes for a bit of a blind spot over your right shoulder, but it’s a decent price to pay for that pretty shape.
However, the top trim Mazda3 Premium Plus sits in a strange spot in some respects. The cheaper trim levels compete well with other hatchbacks like the Civic and Impreza from a price perspective. This top spec version is much more powerful, and much more expensive, than even the highest trim Civic and Impreza hatchbacks. So, because Honda and Subaru won’t sell you a hot hatch version of the Si and WRX, this Mazda3 Turbo looks pretty good in comparison. With standard AWD you’ve got a leg up on the 241 hp, FWD-only Golf GTI. And it’s cheaper.
So if you want a hot hatch, the Mazda3 should definitely be on your shopping list.