The promise of premium gas is that it will boost performance, but is it worth the extra cost? To find out, we put the 2023 Mazda CX-50 2.5 Turbo to the test with our year-long test SUV, whose turbocharged engine is rated at 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque on regular gas. Filling up with 93 octane boosts horsepower to 256, and torque jumps to 320 lb-ft. We took the CX-50 to the track to see if the 0-60-mph acceleration improved, and we were surprised by the results.

Why Does the Power Increase with Higher Octane?

The engine is fitted with a turbocharger, which is programmed to increase the boost and spark advance until the engine senses knock (which indicates harmful predetonation). Higher-octane fuels resist knock better, allowing more boost and/or advance and hence more power and torque.

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How Did We Test Mazda CX-50?

We tested the CX-50 in California, where 91 octane is the maximum. However, Mazda rates the engine at 256 hp and 320 lb-ft on 93 octane. In MotorTrend’s track testing of our CX-50 2.5 Turbo on 91 octane, the Mazda hit 60 mph in just 6.6 seconds, a 0.4-second improvement over the same SUV tested with 87-octane fuel.

Is Premium Gas Worth the Extra Cost?

The improvement in acceleration is not worth the extra cost for some people, especially considering the CX-50’s average fuel economy. However, for those who want the best acceleration, premium gas is worth it. Mazda says you shouldn’t expect noticeably different fuel economy with one type of gas over the other, though the CX-50 driver who spends more on premium gas may find themselves pressing farther into the accelerator pedal’s travel than the driver who chooses 87.

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How Much Will It Cost?

If you drive 12,000 miles a year and spend 55 percent of your time in city driving and the rest on highways, you’ll spend $389 more every year on gas for premium over regular. These numbers are based on the average gas prices in the U.S. at the time of writing, which is $3.44 for regular and $4.25 for premium.

Conclusion The improvement in acceleration with premium gas is noticeable, but whether it’s worth the extra cost depends on the individual. For some, the difference in performance is negligible, while others might appreciate the boost in horsepower and torque. In any case, it’s nice to know that the CX-50 2.5 Turbo gives you the option to choose between decent acceleration with savings on fuel or better acceleration for those who want the best.

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