2020 Mazda3 Premium Hatchback: All You Really Need

Cars are far from rational choices. What you need and what you want rarely line up, and when you look at the state of just how many options there are on the market, that’s not exactly surprising. From sedans to SUVs, luxury vehicles to non-luxury cars, front-wheel drive to four-wheel drive, everything is available. 

If you’re honest with yourself, you really don’t need much. Maybe something that looks halfway decent, has OK performance, is quiet, can seat five people in comfort, and has things like Apple CarPlay. Put your realistic hat on, and you’ll see that you truly don’t need much more than the 2020 Mazda3 Hatchback. Plus, the Mazda3 Hatch goes above and beyond.

Exterior

Regardless of whether I have my glasses on or off, I think the Mazda3 Hatchback has to be one of the prettiest cars on the market. The front is modern Mazda, while the back is devastatingly handsome. This hatchback has enough curves to make Cardi B jealous, which would, undoubtedly lead to another interesting song.

While I’m not alone in thinking the Mazda3 Hatch is incredibly gorgeous, some, gasp, think that the design isn’t good looking. One friend I spoke with claimed the hatchback looked like a dog doing its business. Harsh. Overly harsh. But hey, that’s the thing with choices – everyone has something that works for them. She’s wrong, but I appreciate her view.

Interior

I’m a sucker for Mazda’s interiors. The Japanese automaker makes some of the best interiors outside of the luxury class. Despite being a compact hatchback that competes against things like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, the Mazda3 Hatchback comes with an interior that completely wipes them out.

Beyond sharing the iconic minimalism approach as other Mazdas, everything in the Mazda3 Hatchback looks and feels upscale. The dials in the instrument cluster are crisp and clear, the infotainment and HVAC dials feel like they’re made out of metal, and the way the infotainment screen sits in the dashboard makes it seem like some has put a lot of thought into it. That’s the thing about Mazda, it really feels and seems like the automaker puts thought into things.

The interior is decently comfortable, too. Two people will fit fine in the back, three might be a squeeze, but that’s something you’ll run into with nearly every vehicle in the compact class. Where you start to run into problems with the Mazda3 hatch is when it comes to usability and drivability. 

Those gorgeous curves create some massive blind spots at the back. If you plan on doing a lot of parallel parking or reverse into a spot regularly, like I do, it’s certainly a tricky task in the hatchback. Additionally, those sweeping lines eat into cargo space. The all-wheel-drive hatchback, which we tested, has 47.1 cubic feet of cargo space compared to the Volkswagen Golf that offers up to 53.7 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s not a big difference and it certainly won’t matter at Whole Foods, but that’s the difference between hoarding another bundle of toilet paper and running out during the next lockdown.

Performance

Mazda’s going to turbocharge the majority of its lineup, but when we tested the Mazda3 Hatchback, there was only one engine available: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Power is rated at 186 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is available, but that’s only offered with one trim and front-wheel drive, so good look finding one on a dealer lot. Instead, most people will get a Mazda3 like the one we tested – with all-wheel drive and the six-speed automatic.

For the most part, this is a good powertrain. It’s got more than enough power for regular use, though it might not excite in the way Mazdas of old used to. “Sport” mode won’t radically change the vehicle either, though it will ensure the transmission holds gears longer and the throttle pedal is a little touchier. Instead of blowing your socks off around corners, the Mazda3 is about being comfortable and quiet.

If you’re really looking for power, we recommend waiting for the turbo engine. Sure you’ll pay more for it and you’ll most definitely pay more for gas, but it’s going to have a pocket-rocket quality to it, while the regular 2.5-liter is more of an everyday kind of thing. Fuel economy isn’t bad at 27 mpg, but it’s certainly not anything to brag about. Without any water or inclement weather during our time with the hatchback, we hardly felt all-wheel drive working.

If you’re an enthusiast, it’s hard not to see the potential in a possible MazdaSpeed3. Mazda wouldn’t have to touch the chassis, but the suspension could be stiffer, gripper tires could be added, and a more powerful turbocharged engine, which is already coming, would result in a true rival to the GTI. Mazda’s already said this isn’t happening, but it’s hard to ignore when the starting point has so much potential.

Final Thoughts

Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW don’t sell luxury hatchbacks in the U.S. Since American consumers love SUVs so much, they’ve all decided to bring tiny SUVs instead of offering hatchback. That decision makes the Mazda3 Hatchback the most luxurious one on the market. It won’t be as popular as the Honda Civic or the Toyota Corolla, which is something I don’t understand.

After a week with the Mazda3 Hatchback, the question of what more one could need continuously came up. It has all-wheel drive, a spacious cargo area, loads of tech features, a perfectly adequate powertrain, and that gorgeous design. For anyone looking for a hatchback that won’t see any track use, there’s little reason to go elsewhere. The one and only thing that would stop me from recommending one is the turbocharged engine that’s going to be available soon. Beyond that, as it sits, the Mazda3 Hatchback is the perfect vehicle for the majority of consumers.

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