Japanese automaker Mazda’s compact car, the Mazda3, has been a fixture in the segment since arriving for the 2004 model year. A successor to the Protegé and a fierce rival of the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Volkswagen Jetta, the Mazda3 delivers the zippy handling drivers expect from Mazda.
The latest model is in its fourth generation, following an update in 2019. And the range-topping 2022 Mazda3 Turbo packs plenty of power and options into a compact sedan. MotorTrend reviewers recently tested one to see if it can come close to its luxury competition.
How does the 2022 Mazda3 Turbo drive?
The Mazda3 Turbo packs a 2.5-liter inline-four engine harnessing 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque with premium gas. Those are among the higher specs you’ll find in the compact sedan segment. The model MotorTrend tested also had all-wheel drive.
Its 0–60-mph split was 6.4 seconds, a full 1.7 seconds faster than the non-turbo Mazda3. Stopping, too, was better — reviewers said 60–0 took 120 feet in the turbo, compared to 122 feet for the normally aspirated model. However, they noted that number was off from the 2022 Honda Civic Si at 110 feet.
MT reviewers also noted the driving experience exceeded their expectations from a car in this class. The early peak torque helped the automatic transmission push on, and the vibrations you might expect from a more powerful engine weren’t noticeable. The AWD system got the power out easily, and reviewers liked that they could turn the traction control system off for a bit more fun.
But even with that extra power, Mazda says the 2022 Mazda3 Turbo gets a combined 27 mpg. That’s lower than the standard Mazda3’s 31 mpg, but it’s close.
Can the turbo compete with luxury rivals?
The 2022 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo offers two trim options: the base model and the Premium Plus. The latter’s upgrades include the Mazda Navigation System, black or white leather instead of two leatherette options, and added driver assists such as traffic sign recognition and traffic jam assist.
Whichever trim level you choose, the 8.8-inch-screen infotainment system controlled by a dial makes finding what you need easy. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard on both trims as well. The system reminded MotorTrend reviewers of older versions of BMW iDrive, and you can easily select what you need while keeping your eyes on the road.
Whether the upholstery is leather or leatherette, the interior design is simple but not cheap. Adjustable and heated sports seats, a heated steering wheel, and a 12-speaker Bose audio system come standard in either trim. MotorTrend notes the ergonomics are excellent except for the cupholders, which can struggle with taller drinks.
Unfortunately for taller passengers, the second-row seating is less spacious than some competitors. There’s slightly less headroom and legroom than the Corolla and more than an inch less than the Civic. But overall, the Mazda3 is one of the most comfortable compact cars.
Furthermore, MotorTrend calls the 2022 Mazda3 Turbo a “stepping stone to luxury.”
2022 Mazda3 Turbo price
The 2.0-liter Mazda3 sedan base model starts at $20,800. Bumping up to the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo sees the price jump to $30,550. And upgrading to the Premium Plus package for more amenities and driver assists brings the MSRP to $33,100.
That’s a nearly 60% price increase over the standard trim. However, it still comes in below a luxury sedan such as a BMW 2 Series, which costs at least $3,500 more for less power.
Overall, MotorTrend testers say they’d take the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo over the BMW 2 Series “in a heartbeat.”