The Mazda 3 has always been good. With a 2.5L turbo engine, its become really good. Finally, in hatchback form, it’s not just good, but quirky as well. All big positives in my opinion. Who wants to be just another punchy sport compact after all. It’s no secret that there’s always been a lot to love about the Mazda 3. Adding to its long, lovable list for 2022, is a blacked-out Carbon Edition. Aside from this new package, and a Platinum Quartz Metallic paint option, the Mazda 3 rolls into the new year virtually unchanged from 2021.
As was the case before, three different engine options are available to choose from. My hatchback came with the most desirable. A 2.5L turbo with 227 hp and an astonishing 310 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is on the menu if one should opt for the purist of experiences, but it must be paired to a front-wheel drive set up. All-wheel drive mandates an automatic transmission. Not to worry though, a feisty Sport mode keeps the gears moving and the rpm’s climbing. Acceleration is strong all the way up to redline. Perfectly complimenting the sporty chassis that really put the Mazda 3 on the map. Especially when engine options were far less powerful. Nimble and light on its feet. A fun-to-drive experience from start to finish. With tight body control, responsive brakes and steering that provides natural feedback. The ride is firm enough to cut through the corners, without punishing occupants to the point where you need to keep a stash of Tylenol in the glove compartment.
On the inside, the same thoughtful arrangement of premium materials will surely impress. Designed smart, with plenty of desirable features aboard. Sharp, ergonomic and pleasing to the senses. Everything wrapped in black, silver aluminum and an attractive dark red. The Premium Plus package will include every conceivable driving aide, safety and security feature, and bit of tech around. Everything is heated, power adjustable, retractable, leather-wrapped, nicely illuminated and more. Each inch studied out in an effort to improve the experience. With one of the easiest to navigate and edited down infotainment systems out there.
Though its big, bulbous backside may limit visibility out the rear, the hatchback brings so much unique character and visual playfulness, that it’s hard to pass up. Its distinct design ensures that nothing else will look quite like it. Also helping the Mazda 3 not get lost in the crowd are 18” black alloy wheels and matching front grille, against Snowflake White pearl paint. It rides low and aggressive, with sharp, slitted LED headlights glaring out at the road ahead.
Yes, there’s plenty of great things to be discovered with the Mazda 3. It’s a car that shows us tremendous value at every turn. That value can be tailored even further to fit a wide range of budgets thanks to different engine, drivetrain, trim and tech options. If you choose to just go all in, loaded to the hilt, you’ll find the final price is still way below European rivals like Audi or BMW. All without feeling like you had to sacrifice a single thing.
Price as tested: $35,810.00