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  • Writer's pictureMitchell Weitzman

2024 Mazda3 Hatchback review: Disappointing returns

Updated: Apr 5

My love for the Mazda3 has waned with this 2024 model's surprising faults

2024 Mazda3 hatchback turbo review | The Road Beat

2024 Mazda3 Hatchback review by The Road Beat

Words and pictures: Mitchell Weitzman


What is it?


It's no secret I have a love for Mazda products, being everyday vehicles that have a real sense of fun as well as upscale interiors that outshine rivals. The 3 sedan and hatchbacks have been no different in past experience, but this 2024 model has me scratching my head as to what has gone wrong. Did I get a bad test unit? I hope so.


Buy it for..


With a window sticker for this fully-equipped AWD turbo model reaching a steep $38,410, the quality better be there for this compact hatch, but Mazda delivers again on this front, furnishing this 3 with a bona find luxury interior that matches some German offerings. Seating features comfortable leather, but what's more impressive is the lush, soft-touch materials covering the doors and dash. It's tightly wrapped and styled in a simplistic yet swooping architecture that says more about class rather than solely a visual stimulant. Switchgear impresses, too, and it's after spending just a minute in this 3 Turbo Premium Plus that you realize just how much nicer of a car on the inside it is than any competing compact car from either Honda or Toyota. Then again, it also costs quite a bit more than either, but this is also equipped with luxuries like a panoramic sunroof and 360-degree parking cameras, items you will not find available on a Civic or Corolla. Overall, for a mainstream and still-affordable car, this is an elevated luxury experience.


2024 Mazda3 interior review

Mazda has outfitted this turbo model with their familiar 2.5-liter inline-four that's good for 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque on regular 87 gasoline. If you have access to 93, those numbers will swell to 250 and 320. Even on lowly 87, this Skyactiv engine scoots this svelte hatchback from 0-60 MPH in just under 6 seconds. What's more is this four-banger is uncharacteristically smooth and has a decent if artificial growl, without much of the harshness commonly associated with this cylinder configuration. The transmission might only feature six forward gears, but it's transparent in operation and perfectly serviceable due to the strong and wide powerband.


Skip because...


This hurts to write, but while Mazda has typically produced the best-driving vehicles one each of their respective classes, this particular example had appalling steering. A hallmark trait of Mazdas before, the steering in this AWD hatchback had zero feel and a dead spot in the middle that made for wandering at speed. Slight adjustments were met with skepticism as the wheel provides no feedback, but what's worse is the dead spot then quickly builds up weight like a tensioned spring, resulting in a lack of confidence. I've driven this exact same configuration of Mazda3 before and it was brilliant in this regard, so I'm uncertain what's wrong besides a possible alarming alignment issue. Trust me, I'm not enjoying writing these negatives, and I do sincerely hope the car was out of whack.


2024 mazda3 hatchback soul red

Mazda has successfully taken the crown now for the most annoying beeps and bongs in the industry, with not the standard five beeps upon entry, but now eight, and by default they are set to bullhorn volume levels. Luckily, these can be adjusted, but there are beeps constantly each time you get in and exit the car. I also had numerous audible warnings for leaving things in the back seat, except there was never anything actually left behind. Even more annoying was that I would get the same warning when I entered the car. What? And still, nothing - the seats were empty. I also encountered, on each and every drive, a warning that the rear safety sensors had problems, always after about 10 minutes into a drive, so that's worrying.


The electronic parking brake randomly decides to automatically disable itself when you select drive, and other times it stays on. Again, with zero consistence or pattern to follow, I can't trust it. Either it turns off automatically every time, or never at all; intermittently is not acceptable today.


2024 mazda 3 hatchback review

For a small car, fuel mileage isn't all that great, returning 24 MPG over the course of a week. 24 might not sound bad, but a Golf R, an AWD pocket rocket with 90 more horsepower got better mileage during my test. A BMW 330i with AWD and similar power also achieves better mileage. In fact, until I drove the 3 on a longer freeway drive to Sacramento and back, I was averaging a paltry 23 in mixed driving. Shoot, even a manual transmission and 382-horsepower Toyota GR Supra averaged over 26 MPG in the same conditions; its just a bit of a thirsty four-cylinder in this Mazda. And also, even with big horsepower and torque numbers, the 3 Turbo just never feels all that quick. It's not slow by any means, but for those expecting a proper hot hatch will be disappointed. I o reckon an eight-speed transmission would help both performance and fuel mileage.


And, to further my suspicion about this 3 being a problematic example, there was a low-frequency and cyclical rumble at speed. Honestly, it sounded like a subwoofer on the freeway, with each one second interval having a roaring boom coming from somewhere in the car. I turned the radio off, climate off, and still this noise persisted, and it's not quiet either. I pointed it out to passengers and they immediately became aware of it. This is a problem that would result in me taking the car straight back to the dealership. And it couldn't have been tires, because again, it would only happen about every second, of which tires spin much faster.


I'm so confused


When I saw a Mazda3 turbo hatchback on my list of upcoming test cars, I was excited. However, after just the first drive in this handsome hatch, I knew something was up. "What happened?" I thought, and then the rumbling sound, safety system warnings, the beeps and fake you-left-your-belongings notifications, all had me shaking my head in a shock disappointment. Despite the horsepower rating, it also just never feels that quick, as a VW GTI (rated for 241 horsepower) is miles quicker in the real world. A hot hatch this is not, leaving me with sadness. Hope to try another one and see if it improves upon this Soul Red example.


2024 Mazda3 Hatchback Turbo Premium Plus

As-tested price: $38,410












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