I’m a huge fan of the second-generation Mazdaspeed3. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the Mazdaspeed3 was the turbocharged version of the 2010-2013 Mazda3. It had a force-fed 2.3-liter engine that pumped out 263 hp and scooted the car to 60 mph from a standstill in just 5.3 seconds.
It was fast and fun to drive, but it was fairly unrefined. Its suspension was stiff, and there was a ton of torque steer when accelerating hard off the line. The turbo kicked in midway through the RPM range, and there was a visceral feeling of speed every time you mashed the throttle.
The 2022 Mazda3 Turbo that I currently have for the week is the antithesis of that car. It’s refined, comfortable, and fast enough for just about everyone. Here are my thoughts after driving it for a few days.
The 2022 Mazda3 Turbo is quick, but it feels muted
The 2022 Mazda3 Turbo is essentially the next evolution of the Mazdaspeed3 in that it’s a quick hatchback, but it’s far more grown up. If the Mazdaspeed3 was an angsty teenager filled with hormonal rage, then the Mazda3 Turbo is the well-dressed accountant that does yoga to shake off the stress of the day. It’s calm and serene in comparison, and after driving the Mazda3 Turbo for some time, I can tell that it caters more to the masses.
After all, what young professional would want to get into a honey badger of a car after working a tough 9-5 shift in the office? Don’t get me wrong, the Mazda3 Turbo is still quick. Under its hood is a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine that generates 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. According to Car and Driver’s testing, it can get up to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, which is on par with its Sonic-the-Hedgehog predecessor. Fortunately, the torque steer is gone, thanks to the car’s AWD setup.
But performance-wise, the car still feels muted. Like you’re cut off from the rest of the world when driving. Maybe it’s the sound deadening or the fact that it only comes with a six-speed automatic transmission (The Speed3 only came with a manual). I’m not sure, but I kind of like it. Maybe it’s because I’m a young professional.
The Mazda3 Turbo is comfortable and stylish
Sitting inside the Mazda3 Turbo, it’s clear that the Japanese automaker spent a lot of time crafting the interior. The dashboard has a simply sophisticated design that looks like it belongs on an art piece, and the two-toned red and black theme is unique. I especially liked the metallic Bose tweeters on the door panels that give the car’s interior a high-end feel. The devil is in the details, after all.
Speaking of the details, the front seats are comfortable and supportive, even when sitting in traffic for an hour. Also, there’s plenty of room in the rear seat area for passengers shorter than 6 feet, 2 inches.
My only gripe is the 8.8-inch infotainment display is not a touchscreen. Instead, you have to control it with a rotary dial on the center console, which is annoying. It also caused me to take my eyes off the road for longer than I would like. After a day or so, I used Apple Carplay instead for my entertainment and navigation needs.
However, I will say that the Bose 12-speaker premium audio system is sublime. There’s a lot of clear sound coming out of those speakers.
There’s a lot of good safety tech built-in
In addition to the infotainment and overall comfort of the Mazda3 Turbo, I felt very safe in it. The car comes with a rear cross-traffic alert that saved me on more than one occasion when pulling out of a parking spot. There’s also a lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitors, and parking sensors to keep you from hitting things when parking. If you need more help, a 360-degree camera is onboard as well.
The Mazda3 Turbo gets decent fuel economy
According to the EPA, the 2022 Mazda3 Turbo can get up to 23 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 26 mpg combined. My real-world average, which consisted of mainly street driving, came out to 24.3 mpg.
Is the Mazda3 Turbo worth buying over the non-turbo models?
Yes, the added power the Mazda3 Turbo puts out is worth the money. However, don’t buy it if you’re looking for a real hot hatchback because it’s no Volkswagen GTI or Honda Civic Type R. Instead, buy the 2022 Mazda3 Turbo if you’re looking for a fun time between points A and B but need to maintain your quiet and clean look when you make it to the office.
But if you don’t care about looking sophisticated, just buy a used Mazdaspeed3 and turn up the fun dial to 11. Your inner angsty teenager will thank you.