A lot of times, things are not always what they seem. Fireflies aren’t flies; they’re beetles. Boston Cream Pie is actually cake. White chocolate doesn’t have cocoa solids, which is what makes chocolate, chocolate. And the redesigned 2022 Mazda3 sedan and hatchback are not luxury cars, even though you could be fooled into thinking that it is. For the best Mazdas exude a refined, well-honed élan that reflects an attitude far beyond their class, so you might easily mistake them for more expensive goods.
Little has changed on the 2022 Mazda3, and that’s a good thing. Offered as a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback, it comes with a choice of 4-cylinder engines. Yes, a 6-speed manual is available, but only on front-wheel-drive models; all-wheel drive requires the 6-speed slushbox. But they all prove to be endearingly fun to drive, and designed with a panache that endows it with the ambience of an entry-level luxury car.
New for 2022, Mazda3 buyers can opt for the Carbon Edition package, with Polymetal Gray paint, red leather seats, and the usual assortment of murdered-out exterior trim pieces.
It’s offered as a four-door sedan in Base, S and Turbo trim, and as a hatchback in S and Turbo trim.
Whereas some Asian rivals offer cars with fascias that resemble kabuki masks, the Mazda3 is far more attractive. Despite similar exterior designs, the hatchback is positioned as the more luxurious vehicle, being $1,000 more expensive than the comparable sedan model despite being 7.9 inches shorter overall and its dramatically different attire.
With an eccentric shape and angle that give it a premium attitude, the Mazda3 Hatchback sports an unusual appearance behind its rear door. The sedan seems much more traditional in comparison. No matter the model, the Mazda3 has a fluidity to its look that might be mistaken for something more expensive; this impression is confirmed once you go inside because this is where Mazda has invested money and it is evident.
As with the best new vehicles, soft touch accents abound in all the right places, including an instrument panel wrapped in a pleasing leather-like material and topped by an 8.8-inch screen that’s easy to see while driving.
Despite its upscale allure, there are some ergonomic issues, such as cup holders are placed far forward in the center console under the instrument panel, which limits the height of the bottle you can place there.
Despite minor quibbles, the front seats are supportive and comfortable, with more than enough head and leg room. Legroom in the back seat isn’t as roomy, but it does fold down to augment the already-spacious 20-cubic-foot cargo hold.
If you can, opt for the Hatchback’s $950 Premium Package, which adds the sort of options that make this car feel so much more posh, including adaptive front lighting, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, LED headlights, leather seats, paddle shifters and heated front seats.
As you might expect of the Mazda3, it’s offered with three different versions of a 4-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. The base sedan gets a 2.0-liter 4 that generates 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque through the front wheels. Moving up to the S nets you a larger 2.5-liter 4 that produces 186 hp, with available all-wheel drive. The top dog is the turbocharged 2.5-liter model that produces 250 hp. You can get a 6-speed manual, but only with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive models get the 6-speed automatic.
Safety and technology
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not crash tested the Mazda3. But the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Hatchback a 2022 Top Safety Pick+, its best rating.
Driver assistance systems include Radar Cruise Control with stop and go function, Smart Brake Support, Lane Departure Warning with Lane-Keep Assist, Driver Attention Alert, and High Beam Control. Mazda Connected Services is complementary for three years.
When it comes to tech, Mazda’s 8.8-inch infotainment screen is perched at the top center of the instrument panel, but it’s controlled by a rotary knob on the center console. Predictably, doing something as basic as switching radio stations requires way too many steps and proves far more time consuming to use than a touchscreen system. And the amount of information displayed on each screen is fairly minimal.
All but the base models get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A Wi-Fi hotspot is standard and comes with a three-month/2 GB trial.
This five-door automotive dumpling is a sheer blast to drive. Lively and responsive, it feels far more refined than it should considering its price. Its smooth, agile ride quality ably absorbs bumps despite the relatively firm ride. It remains composed in corners, and displays a nimbleness that makes more fun to drive than almost any other compact cars.
The 2.5-liter engine has the power you’ll need thanks to a 6-speed automatic that obediently shifts without the hesitation so typical in this class. Couple it with agile handling and a stiff body, and you’ll find the Mazda3 to always be composed, inspiring confidence in all situations, particularly with all-wheel drive.
2022 Mazda3 2.5 S AWD Hatchback Specifications
|Dimension||L: 175.6 inches/W: 70.7 inches/H: 56.9 inches/Wheelbase: 107.3 inches|
|Powertrain||2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive|
|Fuel Economy||25 mpg city/31 mpg highway/27 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||186 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Price: Base price: $28,750; As tested: $29,750 including $1,000 destination charge.|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Always fun to play with, the Mazda3 S AWD Hatchback will put a smile on your face every time you drive it, tricking you into thinking you’re driving something fancier despite some distinctly antiquated features, like its 6-speed automatic transmission. With prices starting at $20,800 for the base sedan, the Mazda3 is almost caviar on a beer budget.
2022 Mazda3 Hatchback — Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Mazda3 a good car?
The Mazda3 is known as being one of the most reliable compact sedans on the market according to Vehicle History.com. Consumer Reports recommends it, rating its reliability as average.
Is Mazda3 a girl car?
The Mazda3 was named 2019 Women’s World Car of the Year by a panel of female judges.
Do Mazda3 have transmission problems?
The latest generation of the Mazda3 is not known to have many transmission problems, according to VehicleHistory.com. The 2010 model year has the highest number of reported transmission problems and they all tend to be related to clutch failure.