It’s a well-known idiom that “time flies when you’re having fun”, and that may not be truer than when you happen to be flying down the freeway in a fun compact car like the 2023 Mazda3. In fact, it may be hard to believe, but this peppy little upstart has been with us for exactly twenty years now. In that time, the Three has battled many foes, and currently, its main competitors are also cars that have stood the test of time as well. The legendary Honda Civic, Subaru Impreza, VW Jetta, and undeniably popular Toyota Corolla all have been ironically vying for the biggest share of the compact market they can get.
The latest version of the Mazda3 keeps with the same formula that has allowed it to last so long. Mazda decided to drop the 2.0-liter inline-4 that served as the base model for 2022. In its place is a larger 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-4 that makes 191 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, and features cylinder deactivation and variable valve technology. Upgrade to the far more potent turbocharged 2.5-liter four and you’ll be treated to a thrilling 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque.
What is even more exciting than the power the 2023 Mazda3 can make is the fact that you can get it with a real six-speed manual, at least if you opt for the front-wheel drive models. If you desire the feel and added safety of all-wheel drive, then there is no choice but to accept a six-speed automatic transmission. In either case, the Mazda3 will reward you with not only excellent performance (more on that in a moment) but also impressive fuel economy. The naturally aspirated front-wheel drive version returns 28/37/31 city/highway/combined, while the thirstier all-wheel-drive model uses up 26/35/30, and the turbocharged variant checks in at 23/32/27 MPG.
At its best, the Mazda3, in its turbocharged guise is the same pocket rocket it has always been. Stomp on the gas and watch as 0-60 MPH comes and goes in just 5.6 seconds, while the quarter mile flashes by in 14.1 seconds at 99 mph. Top speed is limited to 134 mph, which is fast enough for most owners. Run around the skidpad and the Mazda3 can post 0.85 g of lateral acceleration while braking from 70-0 mph takes a respectable 169 feet.
There are a total of six trim levels available for the 2023 version of the Mazda3: Base, Select, Preferred, Carbon Edition, Premium, and Turbo Premium Plus. The lower trim models come with an 8-speaker stereo, while a Bose 12-speaker system comes standard on the more expensive versions. Bluetooth hands-free audio streaming, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, comes standard across the board, operating through an 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen.
As with most cars in its class, the price range spans a vast amount and offers potential owners the ability to have a very basic, frugal car, or a feature-laden ride that just happens to be compact in design. Available in either sedan or hatchback, the 2023 Mazda3 begins at a meager $22,550 for the Base trim. Each of the next five trim levels beyond that jumps up about $1,500 each time, topping out at the top-of-the-line Turbo Premium Plus which starts at a still-reasonable $34,000. In any of its versions, the latest Mazda 3 continues where it began two decades ago; offering up a tremendous amount of fun, personality, and speed at a very affordable price point. If you don’t believe us, just go test drive one and see how fast time can really fly while you’re having fun, flying down the road!