2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo: Low-Key Looks, High-Power Fun

2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo

Competes with: Honda Civic Si, Hyundai Veloster Turbo, Subaru WRX, Volkswagen Golf GTI

Looks like: A run-of-the-mill Mazda3 sedan or hatchback … with a secret identity

Powertrain: Turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 250 horsepower and 320 pounds-feet of torque (using 93-octane gasoline) or 227 hp and 310 pounds-feet (87 octane); standard six-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Late 2020

Like its mild-mannered alter-ego, the all-new-for-2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo is available as either a sedan or hatchback. At a glance, you might not notice the Turbo model is all that different from a standard Mazda3 — but, then again, that was Clark Kent’s hustle, too, before a quick change in a phone booth.

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Exterior

This isn’t a car that immediately shouts out that it has a sportier side to it. Like the Honda Civic Si and Volkswagen Golf GTI, the overall design is sporty but not overly aggressive. Subtle physical differences include 18-inch black-alloy wheels, a gloss-black front grille, gloss-black heated side mirrors, larger exhaust tips and “Turbo” badging at the rear. Of the two body types, the Mazda3 sedan is more conservatively styled, while the hatch’s curvaceous tail might not be to everyone’s taste. (The latter design also negatively impacts the driver’s view due to wide rear pillars and a small rear window.)

Ordering the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo with the Premium Plus Package adds items like a small black rear spoiler, located either on the trunk lid (sedan) or on the roof (hatchback).

Interior 

The Mazda3 interior already has a premium feel to it thanks to the use of high-quality trim and its user-friendly layout. Because of its even longer lineup of standard comfort and tech features, the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo reinforces the message that you’re not behind the wheel of a humdrum economy car. Standard equipment on the Turbo includes leatherette seating surfaces (leather is optional), a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, dual-zone climate control, power moonroof, and chrome trim around the push-button start and on the glovebox. Like non-Turbo versions, the 2.5 Turbo sedan features a conventional trunk with about 13 cubic feet of cargo space, while the hatchback offers a roomier 20.1 cubic feet.

In terms of tech, the Turbo comes with an 8.8-inch display for the infotainment system, along with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hot spot (six-month or 2-gigabyte free trial period), Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio operation, two front USB ports, keyless entry and a 12-speaker Bose stereo. While the cabin is classy, there are some negatives: The infotainment system relies on a console-mounted controller, not a touchscreen, and rear legroom trails some direct rivals — so you might want to check to make certain any long-limbed friends and family members will be comfortable back there.

Engine and Transmission

The Mazda3 2.5 Turbo is motivated by a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive; this drivetrain is used on both the Turbo sedan and hatchback. Total output when running on premium gasoline is 250 horsepower and 320 pounds-feet of torque; numbers dip to 227 hp and 310 pounds-feet of torque when the Turbo is fed a diet of regular gas. For context, front-wheel-drive rivals like the 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI and Honda Civic Si offer 228 and 205 hp, respectively. The Subaru WRX has a slight lead with 268 hp and, like the Mazda3, it comes standard with all-wheel drive.

Safety

All versions of the Mazda3 come with an impressive amount of active safety features fitted as standard. These include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, driver attention alert, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection and a rearview camera. To this the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo adds rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitor and adaptive headlights. On the Premium Plus Package, Mazda’s Traffic Jam Assist feature works in cooperation with the adaptive cruise control and provides steering inputs at speeds below 40 mph.

Pricing

Mazda has not yet revealed pricing details, but for some reference, a 2020 Mazda3 hatchback in the highest trim has a base price of approximately $29,000; a Mazda3 sedan in the same trim level is around $1,000 less (including destination fee). The 2021 Mazda3 Turbo is slated to go on sale by the end of 2020.

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