2021 Mazda3 Hatchback review: Stylish and fun, no turbo required

Soul red is an intense and deep color.

Emme Hall / Roadshow

The big problem for the 2021 Mazda3 is the addition of a new turbo engine. Andrew Krok from the roadshow recently tested the 2021 Mazda3 and it sounds pretty good, but not everyone is looking for a big turbo punch. Thankfully, even without a modicum of power, the Mazda3 is still really, really good.

Like it

  • Great fun to drive
  • Sophisticated style
  • Manual transmission still offered
  • All-wheel drive available

I do not like

  • Lacky infotainment
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Poor rear visibility

You can buy the 2021 Mazda3 as a sedan or hatchback, with basic S, Select, Preferred or Premium finishes. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available for an additional $ 1,400.

No matter how you cut it, the Mazda3 looks good. I prefer the swoopy lines and bulbous kick of the sedan to the more serious form of the sedan, but even in the basic form, this car looks 100% better than a Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra or Toyota Corolla. Of course, the sloping roofline and thick C-pillars mean the sedan doesn’t have the best rear sight lines and cargo space is also less than Mazda’s competitors. The 2021 Mazda3 hatch has just over 20 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up, but the Honda Civic fares great with 25.7 cubic feet.

Inside, the design is lean and clean. My tester comes with a black interior – a little gray, not my favorite – but “greige” or dark red color schemes are also available. The materials are all of excellent quality and the driver’s seat cradles my hindquarters in a lumbar softness. Overall, the Mazda3 feels significantly more refined than its competitors.

Unfortunately, the Mazda Connect infotainment system is a bit of a pain. There is an 8.8-inch screen, but it doesn’t respond to touch. All inputs must be made using a dial on the center console or by voice. To enter an address in the integrated navigation system I have to click the wheel on each individual number and letter or say aloud where I want to go. Sounds easy enough, but if I use my voice, the system issues a few options and I have to wait for Ms. Mazda to read the entire address before I accept or decline. I can’t use the dial to say yes and move on with my life. In other words, once they are in voice command, they are in voice command for the whole process, which makes using the system extremely slow. The good news is that Apple CarPlay is Android Auto they are standard, so you don’t have to use the native system. Additionally, Google Maps and Waze are generally better than an automaker’s built-in system.

The black interior is a bit gray.

Emme Hall / Roadshow

The 2021 Mazda3 sedan has a new 2.0-liter base engine with 155 horsepower, but hatchback models only come with the updated 2.5-liter I4. This engine produces 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque, and while most Mazda3s use a six-speed automatic transmission, a six-speed manual is available, but only on the top trim and with front-wheel drive only. Mazda’s i-Activesense suite of driving aids is standard on the sedan, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, lane departure warning, blind angle monitoring and automatic high beam.

Mazda always prioritizes the driver’s commitment over many other things, and the Mazda3 definitely holds its own on a winding road. This is not a fast car, but it is a car that you can safely push on public roads without reaching insane speeds. The throttle provides quick response to inputs and the transmission is happy to stay at the top of the rev range to make the most of the naturally aspirated engine. Mazda does a great job of setting up the electric power steering as well. The weight is perfect, the response is immediate, and it offers more feedback than any other car at this price.

G-Vectoring Control Plus is standard on all Mazda3 sedans and is a subtle touch of engineering that makes a big difference in how the car performs. The Mazda3’s engine slightly reduces cornering power, shifting weight forward and increasing traction on the wheels turning in front. In all-wheel drive models, the rear axle is disconnected at the same time. Then on the way out, the Mazda3 brakes the outer front wheel and pushes the power back to the rear for a tidier line. It sounds complicated, but it all happens in the background. All I hear is the car carving back roads with serious composure and I can really keep my momentum on winding roads.

The hatchback looks big but isn’t as spacious as a Honda Civic.

Emme Hall / Roadshow

The Mazda3 all-wheel drive hatch returns an EPA-estimated combined fuel consumption of 27 miles per gallon, which places it near the bottom of the class, though it’s worth noting that most other compact hatches don’t have all-wheel drive . The Toyota Corolla hatchback with automatic transmission returns 35 mpg combined and the Honda Civic hatch can go up to 34 mpg combined depending on the engine and transmission choices. But again, those cars are just FWD.

For my money, I’d splurge on the loaded front-wheel drive Premium because this car is so, so good with a manual transmission, even if it costs $ 32,000. If I didn’t care that much about a third pedal, the preferred upholstery looks the best deal, with its heated front seats and 12-speaker Bose sound system. I’d leave all-wheel drive on the table, personally, but that’s a really nice feature for people who live in snowy climates. Add in the beautiful paint called soul red and that gets me out the door for $ 26,890, including $ 945 for the destination.

Yes, the 2021 Mazda3 is more expensive than a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, but it is much more beautiful to look at and even more beautiful to drive. Plus, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on turbo power to get a Mazda3 that drives great. The turbo version might be a little sophisticated, but the standard Mazda3 is super fun too.

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