With its all-wheel drive, top-shelf cabin, and powerful 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the 2022 Mazda3 Sport GT Turbo moves the compact hatchback experience upscale, delivering a premium experience that pits it against the pricier Europeans offerings, albeit with Mazda’s flair for style.
Mazda knows how to make pretty vehicles, and this slick hatchback is certainly one of its better efforts, having won numerous world design awards since its launch.
Finished in the brand’s signature red paint, the 2022 Mazda3 Sport GT Turbo garnered plenty of appreciative glances on my watch thanks to its intriguingly minimalist design and 18-inch black wheels.
All Mazda3 models come standard with the brand’s safety suite that consists of adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assistance, automatic high-beam control, and rain-sensing wipers. This range-topping GT Turbo adds a comprehensive head-up display, surround-view monitoring, and road sign recognition.
Also included is a two-year subscription to Mazda’s connected services that includes remote engine start and door locks, as well as navigation services, vehicle status, and roadside assistance.
Hatchbacks are inherently practical with their yawning rear ends and folding back seats, but the Mazda3 falls behind rivals like the five-door Honda Civic when it comes to ultimate cargo space. The Mazda’s load floor is high due to its all-wheel drive layout, its rear opening isn’t that large, and the back seats can’t be folded from the cargo area. Nonetheless, I had no trouble hauling a couple of bass amps and other musical gear inside – something I’d never be able to do in a sedan.
Up front the Mazda3 Sport offers a long, wide tray that handles most personal effects and the small cubby to the left of the steering wheel.
It’s relatively easy to get familiar with this Mazda thanks to its clear, simple gauge cluster and generally sensible ergonomics. The HVAC system is managed by a control panel in the centre console that features a pair of rotary controllers for temperature, plus an array of hard buttons for mode, fan speed, seat heat and ventilation, defrost, and the like.
Gears are selected by a straightforward mechanical P-R-N-D shift lever that sits just ahead of the rotary controller and accompanying array of buttons for accessing the infotainment system. The system is streamlined and intuitive, but it could really use a rethink for radio access, which is frustrating at the best of times. Thankfully, the Mazda responds well to voice commands. The single twist/push/nudge rotary knob allows for an elegant and uncluttered dash, and with the exception of the complex radio access, it works well for other functions.
The only other issue of note is rearward visibility that’s compromised due to the hatchback’s thick C-pillars and small rear window.
With an as-tested price pushing close to $40,000, a generous feature count is along for the ride. On top of the advanced safety systems and driver aids, the 2022 Mazda3 Sport GT Turbo gets leather upholstery (black or red), a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat for driver, 12-speaker stereo, front and rear parking sensors, and a sunroof. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also supported.
Speccing the $2,400 2.5L turbocharged engine option – which also requires a $2,000 all-wheel drive upgrade – nets a smooth and eager 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque on regular fuel. If you wish to pony up for premium-grade stuff, output nudges to 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque.
This engine is only available with the six-speed automatic transmission, and it blesses the GT with a linear and refined turn of speed. It’s not a high-revving unit, eschewing hot-hatch aspirations for lag-free midrange thrust.
The premium interior appointments and structural solidity lend this hatch a cosseting ambience, although rear-seat shoulder- and legroom are tight for the segment. The stylish-but-thick C-pillars require rear-seat passengers to duck to get in, and make for a claustrophobic feel.
The ride quality is on the firm side, yet there’s a decent ride/handling balance. The Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla deliver more compliant drives but lack the punchy power and all-wheel traction offered here.
Driving Feel: 8.5/10
Those thinking this sleek Mazda3 with all-wheel drive and a potent turbocharged four might be a wolf in chic clothing will have their hopes dashed. Apex clipping and hooliganism is not in the Mazda3 Sport GT Turbo’s playbook, even though the specs might suggest otherwise.
None of this is a criticism, however. The handling is pleasant and predictable, and while not particularly exciting, it makes for a competent and swift cruiser that will also happily tackle a back road at a brisk pace.
Fuel Economy: 7/10
In the world of compact hatchbacks, official fuel economy numbers of 10.1 L/100 km in the city, 7.5 on the highway, and 8.9 combined are not terribly impressive, but then this top-trim model brags all-wheel drive and a turbocharged engine – items none of its immediate rivals can offer. My week of mixed driving (on regular fuel) netted 8.2 L/100 km combined.
With an as-tested sticker of $38,500 before taxes, this 2022 Mazda3 Sport GT Turbo is well placed to duke it out with the competition. The redesigned Honda Civic in top Sport Touring trim will cost about the same. Yes, the Honda is roomier and more fuel efficient; but the Mazda has all-wheel drive and will show the Civic its stylish hindquarters at every opportunity.
Mazda’s unfettered focus on style, quality, and driving dynamics make this Japanese automaker’s products uniquely appealing. Yes, the Mazda3 hatchback compromises a bit on rear passenger space and cargo capacity, but this is balanced by effortless pace, a delightfully elegant cabin, and all-wheel drive. If all this floats your boat, there is only one 2022 Mazda3 Sport GT Turbo.
|Engine Cylinders||Turbo I4|
|Peak Horsepower||250 hp @ 5,000 rpm (227 with 87 octane fuel)|
|Peak Torque||320 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm (310 with 87 octane fuel)|
|Fuel Economy||10.1 / 7.5 / 8.9 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||569 / 1,334 L seats up/down|
|Model Tested||2022 Mazda3 Sport GT Turbo|
|Price as Tested||$38,600|
$6,150 – Six-speed automatic transmission, $1,300; all-wheel drive, $2,000; 2.5L turbo, $2,400; Soul Red Crystal metallic paint, $450