2023 Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus AWD new car reviews

Photography by David S. Wallens

How well does the turbocharged, all-wheel-drive Mazda3 stack up against the Mazdaspeed3 of yore?

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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Remember the Mazdaspeed3? We do. It was an angry five-door hatchback that announced its presence as soon as it awoke. It was like a modern take on the old Omni GLH-S, complete with the torque steer. Of course, we added one to the fleet.

The Mazda3 2.5 Turbo, though, isn’t a second take at the old Speed3. Sorry to dash any hopes.

The basics are similar, we admit: five doors, front-drive architecture, turbo power and a Mazda badge. The new car even adds in all-wheel-drive grip.

The Mazda3, though, just lacks the urgency, the edge and the presence. No manual box is offered, with the standard six-speed automatic just feeling a bit lifeless. It simply lacks the snap of, say, the Hyundai Elantra N.

The Mazda3 does look terrific, however, especially in what Mazda calls Machine Gray Metallic. It pairs nicely with the red interior–which, by the way, feels very high-end.

Where the old Mazdaspeed3 still reminded you of its economy car roots, this one delivers a very premium feel regarding soft touchpoints and fine details.

The wheel is thick and comfortable. You get clear analog gauges. Think less NA Miata and closer to, perhaps, an Audi.

You’ll find buttons and knobs where you’d want them. The seats are supportive.

It’s still a small car. I couldn’t sit behind myself.

The power is there, but the drivetrain just feels a bit lifeless. Choosing the Sport mode adds some spark, but we just didn’t feel the urge to track this one.

So, what is it? If you’re looking for a small, very comfortable daily that offers all-wheel-drive security and has no trouble merging with traffic–all for close to $40,000–this could be your droid.

It’s a small, high-end car, but will those looking for one think of Mazda?

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