The Mazda3 has long been known for being a driver-focused small car. The current version is regarded as the best looking Mazda3 yet. Styling is bold and aggressive, and the turbo model offers a lot of performance for little money. Lots of power in a small package is always a great treat that we can’t turn away, so we had to find out more about this car.

The fourth-generation Mazda3 adopts a matured Kodo design, which has received recognition around the world, most recently as the winner of the 2020 World Car Design of the Year. Taking inspiration from Japanese aesthetics, Mazda adopted a “less is more” approach when designing the Mazda3, focusing on what is essential to the car’s form. The result is clean styling that looks performance-minded without trying too hard.

Of course, just because a car is affordable does not mean that it has to look cheap, and the Mazda3 does it beautifully. The only issue with the styling is the small rear side windows and the hatch window really restrict rear visibility. This results in backing up and parking maneuvers becoming challenging.

Once you get seated inside the Mazda3, you will be greeted by a rich looking interior that would look at home in a car costing twice as much. The materials used in most of the interior are soft feeling and covered in what appears to be leather. If you look hard enough, you will find some cheap plastic in the hidden areas, but you have to realize this is not a $100,000 vehicle. The rich interior makes for a very comfortable journey and the controls all feel solid.

There are also tons of features that you do not usually see at this price point. The Mazda3 2.5 Turbo comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Mazda Connected Services, Bose 12-speaker premium audio, 8.8-inch large center display with Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio, two front USB inputs and keyless entry. You also get a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, frameless auto-dim rearview mirror, head-up display unit, power moonroof, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, leatherette seating, leather-wrapped shift knob and aluminum speaker grilles.

Under the hood of the turbo is the Skyactiv-G 2.5 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine that puts out 250 horsepower on 93 octane fuel. If you put in 87 octane fuel, it will be good for 227 horsepower. The turbo puts its power down through an all-wheel-drive system that does a great job of being invisible. The suspension uses MacPherson struts in the front, but the rear suspension is a torsion beam axle, which is not the greatest for handling.

The Turbo comes with 215-45-18 tires on 18-inch  x 7-inch wheels, which look great and provide a good amount of grip. The engine has to pull close to 3,400 pounds, and although 250 horsepower is a solid number, the Mazda3 feels like it can use more. Maybe it is because the AWD system is working too well, but with a good chassis like this, we would love to see a Mazdaspeed version with more power.

In the competitive “hot hatch” segment, you have to decide where you want to spend your development money, and the interior is definitely the best part of the Mazda3. Prices start at just $30,900 and our top-of-the-line Premium Plus package car came out to less than $34,000. That is a huge bargain when you consider what you get — and the long list of premium features.


Engine: 2.5-liter dynamic pressure turbo inline four
Horsepower: 250 @ 5,000 rpm
Torque: 320 @ 2,500 rpm
Front Suspension: McPherson strut
Rear Suspension: Torsion beam
Transmission: Skyactiv Drive 6-speed automatic
Axle Ratio: 3.58:1
Curb Weight: 3,393 lbs.
Base MSRP: $30,900
Image courtesy of Mazda

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