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Hatchbacks are practical, efficient, and in the case of hot hatches, a lot of fun. However, many loveable little hatches fail to offer all-wheel drive (AWD). Your options are limited, not nonexistent, though. The Mazda3 is one of the best AWD hatchbacks on the market, along with the Volkswagen Golf R and Subaru Impreza. 

  • Mazda3
  • Volkswagen Golf R
  • Subaru Impreza

Is it worth buying a Mazda3?

The Mazda3 offers a sporty hatchback to car shoppers who want an alternative to some of the more mundane vehicles in the segment. However, with a starting price of $22,215, TrueCar bills the Mazda3 as a bit too pricey for the hatchback market. Still, the Mazda3 is a sharp hatchback without dipping into hot hatchback territory like the Volkswagen Golf R. However, with 227 horsepower from the upper-tier 2.5L turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine, it’s no slouch. 

The Mazda3 hatchback offers AWD and hatchback practicality.
Mazda3 | Mazda

Better yet, the Mazda3 hatchback is available in every trim but the base 2.0 and with AWD. Also, with a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it’s a literal safe choice for one of the best AWD hatchbacks. 

Is the Volkswagen Golf R one of the best AWD hatchbacks?

The Volkswagen Golf R is a serious hot hatch. Not just a hot hatch, it’s one of the sharpest, quickest vehicles in the segment. Car and Driver tested the nimble little Golf R and returned a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.9 seconds. That makes the little Volkswagen quicker than a 2022 Ford Mustang GT

Part of the Golf R’s success is its capable AWD system. The Volkswagen Golf R is not only sure-footed with standard AWD; it uses its four-wheeled power for lightning-fast launches and agile handling. Also, with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and a 315-horsepower turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine, it’s a proper hot hatch, unlike the Mazda3.  

Is the Subaru Impreza AWD?

No surprises here; the Subaru Impreza hatchback offers AWD and practicality. At the lower end, the 2.0i Sport hatchback offers a modest 152-horsepower flat four-cylinder engine. It certainly isn’t going to keep up with the Volkswagen Golf R, but it’s a practical alternative to a Mazda3 if you want an AWD hatchback with room for five. Furthermore, the higher trim Impreza 2.0i Limited hatchback has the same 2.0L engine, but it squeezes an extra six mpg in both city and highway fuel economy. 

The Subaru Impreza, like the Mazda3 hatchback, offers AWD and hatchback practicality.
Subaru Impreza | Robert Hradil, Getty Images

Also, with as much as 20.8 cubic feet of storage, the Impreza delivers hatchback practicality. Finally, with a starting price of $25,015, the 2023 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport is similarly priced to the sportier Mazda3. 

Should you buy the Mazda3 or one of the other best AWD hatchbacks?

The Mazda3 is a solid choice for any car shopper who wants a dynamic hatchback with AWD for inclement weather. However, the Volkswagen Golf R is difficult to beat if you want a sharp, hot hatchback. It marries practicality with engineering and track day pedigree. However, with a starting price of $45,185, the Golf R is a far cry from the sensible Mazda hatchback. 

Scroll down to the following article to read more about hot hatchbacks!


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