2022 Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback Review: Upscale With a Price To Match

2022 Mazda Mazda3 hatchback
The 2022 Mazda Mazda3 now features a Sport mode button for quicker throttle response. MAZDA NORTH AMERICAN OPERATIONS

Mazda vehicles have always been a little bit more fun to drive than the competing Honda Civics, Volkswagen Golfs and Toyota Corollas of the world. The 2022 Mazda Mazda3 continues that tradition, but this time with a turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive in one of the most handsome hatchbacks on the market.

The fourth-generation Mazda3 debuted in 2019, but it wasn't until the 2021 model year that the new Skyactiv-G turbocharged four-cylinder joined the lineup delivering 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque.

That new engine only comes paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The combination returns 23 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

The little turbocharged engine is impressive on the street from a standstill, getting up to expressway speeds quickly and without any drama no matter how hard you press the accelerator. The engine growl enjoyably penetrates the cabin, however, the paddle shifters don't react quickly enough so its best to leave the vehicle in automatic mode.

2022 Mazda Mazda3 hatchback
The 2022 Mazda Mazda3 hatchback offers all-wheel drive. MAZDA NORTH AMERICAN OPERATIONS

The Mazda3 does now have a Sport mode button, which makes the gas pedal more sensitive and holds transmission gears longer. The suspension and steering have only one setting, though it's a good one.

The all-wheel drive system sends some power to the rear wheels, allowing the Mazda to slide the tail out in Sport mode in the snow. The Mazda3 also features the company's trick G-Vectoring Control, which reduces power a tiny bit when the steering wheel starts to turn. That puts a little more weight on the front end, making for a more controlled corner.

The Mazda3 Premium Plus variant is the most expensive trim with a base price of $35,415, but it features almost every option available including navigation, parking sensors, adaptive front lighting, heated leather-wrapped seats and a frameless rearview mirror. For safety, the Premium Plus comes with rear cross traffic alert with braking, a 360-degree monitor, traffic jam assist, which will both steer and accelerate/decelerate with traffic, and traffic sign recognition.

The cabin looks upscale with black leather on most surfaces. The perforated leather seats feature red accents underneath, which give them a cool pattern look.

2022 Mazda Mazda3 hatchback
The 2022 Mazda Mazda3 hatchback gets leather-wrapped seats with the Premium Plus package. MAZDA NORTH AMERICAN OPERATIONS

Mazda, from its work with the Miata and elsewhere, knows how to make a snug, comfortable seat for spirited driving. The Mazda3 is no exception.

The Mazda Connect infotainment system is standard with an 8.8-inch screen, controlled by a rotary dial, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Pandora and three months of satellite radio. It has two USB ports and a 7-inch driver information cluster behind the steering wheel.

Mazda used to project its head-up display on a piece of plastic in front of the driver. The 2022 Mazda3 does not have the plastic, with the information now projected on the road ahead as is traditional in vehicles by other automakers.

The center console is clean with a rotary dial to control the infotainment and a volume knob conveniently right next to it. The dial can be spun, pushed and leaned for all sorts of controls. Apple CarPlay worked quickly and easily. Overall, this system has an easy learning curve, with just a few main controls, but redundant buttons for some important functions and modes.

2022 Mazda Mazda3 hatchback
The 2022 Mazda Mazda3 hatchback comes with a rotary dial to control the infotainment screen. MAZDA NORTH AMERICAN OPERATIONS

With two easily-installed child seats in back, the Mazda3 is a little tight with adults in front. Once the kids are bigger and the seats are gone, this car would be big enough for a family of four (just maybe not on a road trip). Adults will have no problem fitting in the back either, as both the Mazda3 sedan and hatch have the same amount of headroom.

The base 2022 Mazda Mazda3 hatchback starts at $23,765 (the sedan is $21,815), with this top specification beginning at $35,415.

The most basic 2022 Honda Civic sedan costs $23,365 and the top trim comes in a little less expensive than the Mazda at $29,965 (though the upcoming Si trim would be closer in power figures). The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI ($30,540) and Toyota Corolla hatchback ($21,940) round out its competition.

Like the rest of the Mazda lineup, the Mazda3 hatchback has moved upscale, but it still retains the "zoom-zoom" DNA. Young adults and old adults with or without kids will find something to love. Those middle-aged adults might just want to wait until the kids are grown (or gone).