2021 Mazda3 Turbo first drive review: Mazdaspeed for grownups
The Mazdaspeed3 was an incredibly fun car that took a regular old sedan and gave it a great youthful kick in the powertrain. But the relentless march of time affects us all and, in Mazda’s case, the automaker has grown a lot in recent years. It’s no surprise, then, that despite some impressive figures on paper, the 2021 Mazda3 Turbo acts more like a retired hot hatch who just wants to sit on the deck and grill all day.
Maturity is the name of the game with the Mazda3 Turbo 2021, not hooliganism. Yes, its 2.5-liter turbocharged I4 delivers 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque with premium gas (227 hp and 310 pound-feet, respectively, on 87 octane), but even with that big twist, the Mazda3 doesn’t never feels like it is exploding from a corner. Instead, the tuning makes the engine feel more comfortable at low revs, delivering its torque in a much smoother way than, say, a car trying to weld its back to the seat. No matter where the tachometer needle is, the engine itself sounds great, with a hint of turbo whistle and a heavy warble.
The six-speed automatic transmission’s long gear is, uh, geared towards non-lively situations. When the going gets twisty, it takes quite a bit of time to work on each gear, and with torque arriving early, the whole thing feels like it wears out a bit at higher revs, which doesn’t really encourage. the rapid-fire shots of the paddles behind the wheel. Switching to Sport mode maintains gears when cornering and downshifts more aggressively when braking, as well as increasing throttle response. Are you looking for a manual transmission? Sorry, friend.
I find the most satisfying moments come from freeway ramps and gaps in traffic, where that ease is best appreciated, rather than throwing my tester into a tight corner and trying to squeeze every inch of the thruster for more hustle and bustle. This is arguably the best, given the Turbo’s estimated fuel consumption of 23 miles per city gallon and 31 mpg on the highway, which is only OK for a compact sedan.
While the winding two-lane forest roads don’t seem like the Mazda3 Turbo’s favorite spot, it’s clear that the car’s chassis tuning is more than ready to tackle these roads. Slightly stiffer front shocks mean lateral weight transfer doesn’t feel heavy, and the new front knuckle makes steering tight and responsive. Suitably thick Bridgestone Turanza all-season tires ensure that regular daily driving prioritizes smoothness – a pleasant departure from almost every other carmaker’s desire to wear the thinnest rubber possible, which can transform a stiff car from composure to consternation a hurry. The standard all-wheel drive of the Mazda3 Turbo also promotes a balanced response out of corners; I find no nonsense Mazdaspeed3 walking with crabs here if I accidentally do it a little too soon. Less dramatic? Sure. But do you know who likes predictability and lack of histrionics? Adults.
No matter how you drive, the 2021 Mazda3 Turbo looks absolutely bitchy in my tester’s five-door form. Equipped with the optional Premium Package, the black accents on the lower air dam, rear wing, and rear diffuser seem to just mean against the $ 495 car gray metallic paint. The optional 18-inch black BBS rims look good too. fabulous. Like every other Mazda3, it has a body generally devoid of sharp, eye-stinging angles, instead opting for a more rounded appearance that doesn’t elicit a bunch of Gundam references, which alone is proof that the Mazda3 is growing.
But no part of the Mazda3 shows maturity like the interior. Brands positioning themselves as premium may learn a thing or two. The design is simple and the lines that are there are not exaggerated. My tester’s two-tone pattern covers half of the dashboard in crimson leather which is soft and padded enough to fit the Germans. The Turbo’s 12-speaker Bose sound system breaks down the skin with some flashy aluminum covers. The steering wheel panel and center console also look expensive. Not bad for a car that falls below the average transaction price of a new car.
Technology has also grown., and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot is encased in an 8.8-inch screen running the latest version of Mazda Connect, which has a minimalist interface that’s pleasing to the eye. It takes some getting used to, as the dial on the center console is the only way to interact with the display, but owners should find it easy enough to master. I used to beat Mazda hard for its low quality backup cameras, but that too has been fixed; this Mazda3 Turbo shows what’s behind me in high definition and there’s even a surround view monitor is parking sensors thrown into the mixture. This is all very impressive considering there is no need to rack up option packs. Even the head-up display is no longer relegated to a crappy piece of flip-up plastic.
I haven’t even addressed the issue of security yet. There is also a ton of standard kit here, like automatic emergency braking (which also works in reverse), blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, lane departure warning and a new practical Traffic Jam Assist that combines ACC with steering inputs when under 40 mph.
Nobody would even have to sell the farm to pick up a 2021 Mazda3 Turbo. The sedan starts at $ 30,845 including $ 945 per destination, while the hatch’s base price is $ 31,845. Add in the Premium Plus package and the two vehicles end up costing $ 33,395 and $ 34,695 respectively. It may not be the hot little hit that Mazdaspeed enthusiasts were hoping for, but with ample torque and smooth delivery, the Mazda3 Turbo may be the right purchase for people who aren’t ready to give up yet. all the fun things in life.