The 2022 Mazda 3 Turbo Hatchback Experience: Master the Ordinary Life

You know the book Eat this, not this? Is it about swapping out different foods for healthier but still satisfying alternatives? Don’t eat the Big Kahuna’s burger, he might say, eat the McDowell double pie instead. If such a thing existed for cars, in dollars rather than calories, it might say something like, “Don’t buy an Audi A3, buy a 2022 Mazda 3 Turbo with the Premium Plus package.”

Let’s not make a fine point on this. It’s just an acknowledgment that the Mazda product team, looking to give the company an edge in a competitive market, has adopted an approach that some Audi drivers should be familiar with: impressive interiors, powerful power delivery, and a comfortably stable ride.

It says something about the team’s success: that buyers can shop both cars and not feel bothered choosing a loaded Mazda 3 Turbo Premium Plus package – with more power and torque and about 10,000 less – over the similarly equipped Audi A3 Prestige quattro. If you prefer a hatchback, this exercise becomes even more relevant: You can’t buy an A3 hatchback in North America, but you Can Get a Mazda hatch like the one I drove in Los Angeles recently.

I am not conveying any news here; The Mazda-Audi similarity is part of an ongoing story in the industry. In the end, it’s shallow, considering the A3 offers technical equipment the Mazda 3 doesn’t, and a contemporary ownership experience by well-capitalized, stock Audi dealers with every type of espresso pod. However, Mazda has found its own way to add value. To an extent, it works.

This is the top streak for the fourth generation Mazda 3 Turbo, the base car of which is now in its fourth year. Let’s take a chance, ah, go out and find out the rest of it.

Mazda 2022 Mazda 3 Turbo Hatchback AWD Specifications

  • Base price (as tested): $32,915 ($36,010)
  • drivetrain: 2.5L Quad Turbocharged | 6-speed automatic | All Wheel Drive
  • horse power: 227/250 (93 octane) @ 5000 rpm
  • torque: 310 @ 2000 rpm / 320 @ 2500 rpm (93 octane)
  • Seating capacity: 5
  • Shipment Size: 20.1 cubic feet
  • Passenger size: 92.7 cubic feet
  • curb weight: 3,383 pounds
  • maximum speed: 130 mph (limited)
  • Quick take: An attractive, comfortable and fun to drive hatchback, if not particularly sporty or sophisticated, and a luxury hatchback.
  • result: 7/10

Auto journalists talk about a condition we call the Mazda Paradox: The more people tell us to buy Mazdas, the more they buy Hondas and Toyotas (and Kias and Hyundais). It’s an ongoing joke that exposes Mazda’s uphill battle as a small car manufacturer in a high-volume market. However, the Mazda 3 Turbo is tough to handle.

First, it’s the first step in the Mazda 3 lineup, which starts with a 155-hp, 150-lb., 2.0-liter SKYACTIV four in the standard model (now only available in the sedan). All Mazda 3 hatchbacks get a 2.5-liter version, which produces 186 horsepower and 186 pound-feet in the S, which can be had with a six-speed manual in front-wheel drive. The automatic-only Mazda 3 Turbo gets the full treatment: a turbocharged 250 hp, 320 lb-ft on 93 octane (or 227 hp, 310 lb.-ft. on 91 octane).

The Turbo does some things well: there’s that attractive and well-thought-out interior, with design and materials typical of the segment. It’s a nice car to drive, although not quite as upgraded as an experience. Its chassis dynamics don’t inspire when navigating lively valley roads, although in a few conditions – higher speeds and fast corners – the Mazda 3 Turbo can cope with the excitement. We call it exciting contiguous. It’s not classically attractive, but it does have some clever turns of sheet metal, and Kodo’s design language brings out a lot of thought and attention in the studio. It looks stunning in the optional Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint, and stands out when parked on a side street laden with gray-to-black crossover SUVs.

The tech features included in the Premium Plus package are just a table stakes for industry driver assistance: Traffic Jam Assist, front and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree display, Rear Cross Traffic Alert with braking support, and Rear Crossing with Smart Brake. The latter two operate at low speeds, detect pedestrians and other vehicles, and apply the brakes automatically. In the field of driver assistance jobs, Mazda has a long way to go to catch up with industry leaders such as Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Subaru. For what it’s worth, with an overall crash rating of five stars, the passive safety makes up for the poor performance in active safety.

Still, there’s a lot to like, and the Mazda 3 Turbo shares positive traits with the company’s other models: that spartan interior with quality materials throughout, not just high touch points, and an outstanding driving feel — primarily in terms of ride quality and power delivery. – According to Consumer ReportsStrong display in reliability. In the decade since splitting from Ford Motor Company, Mazda has amassed a stable portfolio of attractive products by doing what the major automakers shouldn’t. That is, define its scope, choose a few areas to master, and then go to the higher level.

Here’s where I pointed out that the Mazda 3 Turbo isn’t what it calls a “driver’s car” like the company’s old Mazdaspeed models. You’d be excused for expecting it that way, if you came of age in the ’80s and ’90s and still equated the Mazda brand with its performance and motorsport legacy. However, this is a matter of fading realization, because it’s been so long since Mazda has been who – which automaker, who was benchmarking his sports sedans against BMWs and was banned from Le Mans because he built a prototype racing wagon that cut the field like a cruise missile and looked like a brutal buzzer. It maintains one motorsports aura in the MX-5 Miata, which has its own club racing class and is still an exciting platform.

It’s no longer the Mazda Zoom Zoom logo, but rather Feel Alive, which may be a vague concept for the brand, but assigns a more comprehensive mission to its vehicle dynamics, implying driving excitement without fully setting its standards.

With the 3 Turbo, Mazda traded in pure adrenaline for more hype. It’s a different space than the words “Mazda” and “Turbo” might have occupied in the past. The Mazda 3 Turbo may not be a pure angular sculptor, but it has a narrow series of component feel: hand and foot controls that match the power delivery, and that matches the chassis. It feels cohesive and coordinated within a defined dynamic range.

However, the engine is a point. Since my weeklong Mazda 3 Turbo took place in California with 93 octane fuel burned, I and my tank (a meager 12.7 gallons) of the 91 AKI relied on the lower power and torque numbers, although it would be absolutely fantastic. Party trick to tell the difference without a dyno. However, it’s an excellent experience engine that pairs more closely with the Tex than with a flat-rimmed hood. Power rolls smoothly and elegantly, as the Mazdaspeed was of the past—everything at the push of a button.Zoom (insert diabolical chatter). It still feels happy at over 5,000 rpm, and thanks to its “harmonic enhancer,” it registers its delight as a proper, if tacky, electronic roar through its stereo speakers.

Unfortunately, the heavy-duty six-speed automatic spoils the feel of the Mazda 3 Turbo by the way, even in Sport mode, which also adds a more aggressive throttle map. The transformations blend together as if the development engineers were competing to see who could stop an egg from sliding across the surface. When the oar is changed, the downshifts take off more quickly, and satisfactorily, however, not all is lost on valley roads.

Unhurried controls: slow, deliberate steering and idle pedaling, but in a reassuring finish, create a driving atmosphere that reads as restraint rather than idleness. Structure-wise, the Mazda 3 Turbo is right at home on high-speed B-roads, where the relaxation of long, gentle curves with luscious power spin, and full steam toward the horizon provide the best kind of driving entertainment for its tonal condition. The early-morning drive over the CA-14 into the high desert showed the hatch at its best: 6 percent intake, with confidently wide curves, and its driver arrival refreshed from the climb. Maybe a driver’s car, but with great sensitivity to get around. It prefers regular drivers in the standard operating field looking to provide long, monotonous commutes.

Mazda has ditched the previous generation of the Mazda 3’s multi-link rear suspension that was supplied by Ford in favor of a torsion beam rear axle, which it shares with the company’s CX30 crossover. The simpler setup—the beam warps, twists and flexes, providing a sort of semi-independent suspension—is responsible for handling in high G corners and stability over road deformations, but it’s lighter and can be useful for packing. It’s not an exaggeration to assume that cost reduction was a consideration, though Mazda said the setup also provides a more comfortable ride for riders, with less neck wobbles.

Unlike previous Mazda 3s, there’s no pretension to street scene here; Even the optional front air dam and rear hatch spoiler register not as sporty compacts, but as unobtrusive pieces of junk. Evolution, not flash, is Mazda’s current area of ​​business. Available look package includes rear flares, rear skirt and side sill extensions. The influence of the add-ons is visually subtle, with just a hint of tuner flair, and just a trip into the wind tunnel might get you a reading of their aerodynamic effects.

The Mazda 3’s best-in-class infotainment functions are powered by a 7-inch display and an absolute sliver of the 8.8-inch instrument cluster, which is small compared to the latest generation screen from other automakers. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are wired only, but the Bose audio system is a bright spot, made even brighter by the Mazda 3’s quiet interior.

At a sneeze price far from 40 grand, the Mazda 3 Turbo plays in a tough league, with competitors ranging from the Honda Civic Si and Volkswagen Golf GTI, on the performance side, to the tech-laden Audi A3 and BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe on the luxury side. The Mazda 3 seems to divide the difference between them, with the most power ever except for a BMW, and strong whiffs of refinement and luxury, but without the high-end gaming and chassis dynamics to match.

Indeed, let’s remember that Mazda is a small but experienced automaker that confronts OEMs with monsters the way some of us do at the Cheesecake Factory Macaroni-and-Cheese Burger: with sharp focus and a strategic plan. Mazda weighs in on its own by defining a few critical items that you should overdeliver on, and, well, overindulge.

The Mazda 3 Turbo is a daily driver designed to add a touch of excitement and some superlative luxury to your standard duty on wheels. You won’t go out of your way to find the valley’s most twisty trails or get up early to go on the automatic crossing. This Mazda 3 is all about mastering the ordinary: highways, B-roads, navigating, and cutting a funky character while doing the traditional.

Mike Spinelli has covered cars and car culture in print, online, and on family cable TV, and he’s as magical as ready-made pie dough. Send him tips, comments and story ideas at [email protected].

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