2021 Mazda Mazda3 2.5 Turbo Hatchback new car reviews

Photography by David S. Wallens

For many cars on the market, a new model year often brings minor changes, things like the addition of a proper volume knob or a recalibrated sensor of some sort.

That’s not the case for the 2021 Mazda3, however, as the big change for new model was the availability of a turbo.

Compared to the previous version, the Mazda3 Turbo is good for 250 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque (when filled up with 93 octane) over the 186 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft. of torque from naturally aspirated version–a healthy increase of 64 horses and 124 torques.

As well, all Turbo models come equipped from the factory with all-wheel drive.

So, does at that mean the Mazda3 Turbo is the spiritual successor to the Mazdaspeed3? You’ll have to read our driving impressions below to find out.

Other staff views

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

This one ticks so many of the boxes:

  • Turbo power.
  • All-wheel drive.
  • It looks cool.
  • It’s a hatchback.

And the interior feels upmarket–like, seriously upmarket. All of the interior surfaces feel luxurious: dash, console, door panels, seats, steering wheel. It doesn’t feel like the smallest car in someone’s lineup.

Things continue to feel upmarket once rolling along as it’s very quiet on the highway. Good power. Great manners. No torque steer. Not buzzy. Again, it feels way upmarket.

But that all comes at a price: Our stickered at $36,290 with a base MSRP of $33,750.

Price check: A new Subaru WRX starts at $27,495.

[2019 Subaru WRX Premium | New car review]

The Mazda3 makes power torque, you say. Yes, but this engine’s only available with a two-pedal setup.

Sigh.

But there’s a manual mode, right?

Yes, but I couldn’t get the thing to reach redline. And I tried. In fact, even the auto mode felt just lazy.

So, what do we have here? How about it’s a nicer, softer WRX. Or maybe it’s a sedate, commuter-friendly version of a Type R.

But it’s not a replacement for the old Mazdaspeed3. The turbo 3 just doesn’t have the snap–nor the manual box.

[2008 Mazdaspeed3 Project car]

Perhaps it takes advantage of the fact that we’re between Civic Si generations while that new Acura Integra isn’t here yet.

But, at the end of the day, would you pay about $34k for a Mazda3?

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Comments
Buck Futter
Buck Futter SuperDork
11/8/21 12:00 p.m.

Dang. Was really hoping Mazda nailed this. Sounds like it needs a trans remap, and a reduction in price by several thousand dollars. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/8/21 12:17 p.m.

Mazda interiors HAVE come a very long way.  I've been nothing but impressed with them.  And the infotainment control apparatus is one of the least frustrating out there.

 

I didn't realize the WRX was so cheap, that may be why I see so many of them nowadays.

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
11/8/21 12:25 p.m.

As good as the Mazda 3 looks and acts, it still says "economy car" aesthetically and historically. 

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
11/8/21 12:54 p.m.

I know I'm likely in the minoriy but I think these look ridiculous. Long snout, odd shaped rear hach area and short windows. Reminds me of a high top tennis shoe, and not in a good way.

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/8/21 1:08 p.m.
bobzilla said:

I know I'm likely in the minoriy but I think these look ridiculous. Long snout, odd shaped rear hach area and short windows. Reminds me of a high top tennis shoe, and not in a good way.

pump it up!

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
11/8/21 2:27 p.m.

I like the styling but that high beltline and huuuge c-pillar make this a hard no for me were I in the market for a car right now.  The price is also kind of baffling... is this much nicer than a brand new GTI?  Lack of a manual also a turn-off.  Also the last couple of Mazda's I've rented that have this radio/etc control setup seem pretty awful to me.  

Golf GTI or some flavor of new Civic over this, please.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/8/21 2:51 p.m.

In reply to pres589 (djronnebaum) :

GTI and Civic are missing three very important things, though: A driveshaft and two halfshafts.

You have to get a Golf R or a CRV to get those in a GTI or a Civic.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
11/8/21 2:55 p.m.

This is probably not going to be a widely held opinion but I don't want AWD on my car.  Don't need the weight, the cost, added potential problem points, drag, etc.  I do not see this as a positive.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
11/8/21 3:44 p.m.
pres589 (djronnebaum) said:

This is probably not going to be a widely held opinion but I don't want AWD on my car.  Don't need the weight, the cost, added potential problem points, drag, etc.  I do not see this as a positive.

i'M with you on this. More maintenance, more potential for problems and if its so bad I need AWD to go somewhere I'm staying home.

calteg
calteg Dork
11/8/21 4:10 p.m.

In reply to bobzilla :

Agreed. I love Mazdas, and I love hatches, but I don't love this.

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