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Great Little Car: The 2024 Mazda 3 2.5T Premium Plus Hatchback AWD

2024 Mazda 3 2.5T Hatchback front 3/4 view

Okay, yes---there's a sly (sorta) reference to the Mazda 3's roots in that headline.

If you peel back the layers, the Mazda 3 is a direct descendant of the Mazda 323 (1986-1989) and the Mazda Protegé' (1990-2003). In the 20 years it's been known as the Mazda 3, it's gone through some changes, nearly all of them for the better.

2024 Mazda 3 2.5T Hatchback rar 3/4 view

I've been writing good things about the latest-generation Mazda 3 Hatchback for a while now, and the good news is very little has changed.

2024 Mazda 3 2.5 T Hatchback hood up

2024 Mazda 3 2.5T Hatchback engine

None of those changes take place in the engine room, where the 2.5-liter turbo four continues to pump out 227 horsepower, 250 if you feed it premium gas. Power gets to the ground via a six-speed automatic transmission with sport mode, and in Carbon Edition or Premium Plus models like our tester, it gets there through all four wheels.

Performance is rock-solid---zero to 60 in six seconds flat, and fuel economy is good for that level of performance. An EPA-estimated 26 mpg combined city/highway.

2024 Mazda 3 2.5T Hatchback rear hatch open

2024 Mazda 3 2.5T Hatchback rear seat

2024 Mazda 3 2.5T Hatchback front seats

2023 Mazda 3 2.5T Hatchback front seat detail

2024 Mazda 3 2.5T Hatchback instrument panel

The only real news apart from the new Carbon Turbo trim is a slightly larger infotainment screen---10.25 inches---still set back from the edge of the dash, still not a touchscreen, still controlled by a knob on the center console, but now compatible with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and (in our one-week experience), much smoother and less glitch-prone.

Base price for our test vehicle, the 2024 Mazda 3 2.5 T Premium Plus Hatchback AWD, is $37,715---a $3,315 price bump over the last one we drove, a 2022. Not only is that a chunk---it's the difference between a premium sport compact priced under $35k and one threatening to bump up against 40 grand. Upside---very nearly everything comes standard at that price---leather-trimmed seats, front and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree view monitor, cruising and traffic support, auto-dimming driver's side mirror, navigation with traffic sign recognition, rear smart brake support, rear cross-traffic with braking, a black rear hatch spoiler, a three-year subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio, 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and taillights, a power sliding moonroof, adaptive front lighting, rain-sensing wipers, with a wiper de-icer, driver seat memory, heated front seats, keyless entry and pushbutton start, a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a full suite of active safety features, wireless phone charging and a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system.

2024 Mazda 3 2.5T Hatchback steering wheel and instrument cluster

2024 Mazda 3 2.5T Hatchback center console

2024 Mazda 3 2.5T Hatchback center stack

And when I say nearly everything comes standard---there's only one extra-cost option on this car---the Soul Red Crystal metallic paint ($595), so the bottom line of the window sticker ends up at $38,410.

2024 Mazda 3 2.5T Hatchback front view

2024 Mazda 3 2.5T Hatchback side view

2024 Mazda 3 2.5T Hatchback rear view

The only issue I have is price. In two years, the Mazda 3 2.5T Hatchback has gone from being almost as quick as a Volkswagen Golf GTI for two or three grand less to being almost as quick as a GTI for roughly the same money. Head to head, I'm not sure being a great little (fast) car is quite enough.


It'd be better if they had an AWD turbo manual edition.

Replying to

Jake, totally agree! The Miata six-speed in this car would be terrific.

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