In the wide world of small cars, the Mazda 3 has always felt especially… special. Its sharp styling certainly plays a part. With a hatchback option that adds a funky, bulbous backside that might compromise visibility a little, but looks great. The interior looks and feels upscale and expensive. Especially in top trim models. An important element that has never failed to impress. Nimble handling, strong acceleration, plenty of safety features, great tech, useful driving aides, and the list goes on. All at a price that will leave you thinking an accounting error was made.
Good as its been, 2023 ushers in some exciting changes that will serve to only make the Mazda 3 better. Biggest and baddest of these changes is the retiring of the 2.0-liter four-cylinder for base models. Now even the $23,615.00 entry-level Mazda 3 gets the more powerful 2.5L engine. The mid-range Carbon Edition model has the option for all-wheel drive in 2023 modes, if one should feel so inclined. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard on all trims as well.
For those looking for something truly special, the turbocharged, premium plus package I was lucky enough to get behind the wheel of, is worth every extra dollar you’ll spend. Mazda Speed versions of these cars may be a thing of the past, but the Premium Plus package is basically doing the same thing. Adding a little forced-induction, in the form of a turbocharger, lets the 2.5L engine spool out 227 hp and a whopping 310 lb ft of torque. All that power will take you from 0-60 in just 5.6 seconds. The all-wheel drive set-up eliminates any dangerous torque-steer, letting the Mazda 3 remain composed in a straight line. Thankfully, it’s also retained its toss-able, fun-to-drive nature. With tight body control, strong brakes, steering that feels connected and natural, and a firm ride that doesn’t punish your butt and back on rough roads.
To further set apart the Premium Plus package, several exterior enhancements have been effectively implemented. A black aero rear roof spoiler, black front air damn and air guides match the polished black 18” aluminum allow wheels perfectly. On the inside, an almost all black color scheme looks great. All the more when accented by aluminum speaker grilles, housing a premium 12-speaker Bose system.
The Mazda 3 Sedan as been a favorite for some time now. 2023 delivers the more powerful 2.5L engine for even the most cost-conscious out there. But for those really looking to capture all the frills and fun this hot-hatch has to offer, the Premium Plus delivers plenty of power and polish, at a still surprisingly reasonable price.
Price as tested: $37,095.00