Oh what fun it is to ride in a turbocharged Mazda! This week I bring you the new for 2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo sedan (it’s also available as a hatchback) - and I’ll cut to the chase here. It’s quite simply the leading vehicle in its segment if you’re looking for a fast, fun to drive compact sedan with a near premium, refined interior packaged up in a sleek and stylish exterior.
The Mazda3 is a great-looking, sophisticated sedan in Machine Gray Metallic paint ($495) with a gloss black front grille. It’s outfitted with LED headlights with adaptive front lighting, along with LED fog lights and tail lamps. Other features include black dual power side mirrors, a black rear spoiler, and a shark fin antenna. It rides on18-inch black aluminum alloy wheels. The whole look is polished and upmarket.
The Mazda3 2.5-Turbo is FAST and wowed me with its off-the-line acceleration. Note you’ll need to use premium fuel to get its optimum performance numbers: 250-horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque, which is what I experienced. (Regular fuel bumps you down to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft.) The new Skyactive-G 2.5-Turbo engine sounds great. It’s mated to a 6 speed automatic and ideally, Mazda will upgrade to a 7- or 8-speed to improve fuel economy.
Also key is Mazda’s i-Active All-wheel drive system and G Vectoring Control plus which is standard on the Turbo models.
A note about the P215/45R18 all-season tires. It would be nice to see the Mazda3 Turbo upgraded with bigger, wider tires than those offered on the 2.5 S model. They’d add more grip to elevate handling even more.
The Mazda3 sedan interior wins you over with its premium materials and minimalist design. You just won’t find another like it in its class. This Premium Plus model sports a white leather interior with soft-touch materials throughout the cabin. The driver’s seat is 8-way power adjustable with lumbar support. The seat cushions are slightly bolstered, so not super flat, and extend out just the right length.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel sports very slim paddle shifters that are almost hidden. I’d put larger ones that are positioned a bit higher on my wish list. A minimalist glossy black center console sports a leather-wrapped gear shift knob along with a normal/sport drive mode toggle, and controls for the brake auto hold and electronic parking brake, the latter of which is one of the more robust I’ve experienced. You can really feel it when you disengage.
The 2.5 Turbo comes with a terrific 12-speaker Bose sound system with aluminum speakers.
The back seat receives the same attention as the front seat does and passengers back there get their own drop down armrest. I found legroom ok in there for two, but the middle seat passenger will have a high hump in the floorboard to contend with. In the trunk you’ll get 13.2 cubic-inches of cargo space. A really nice detail is a grab handle inside the trunk lid that makes it easy to close.
The 2.5 Turbo is outfitted with an 8.8-inch display that’s not a touchscreen. It’s set up in the dash and runs Mazda CONNECT. Typically I don’t take issue with Mazda’s rotary controller, but this week I struggled to navigate to stations, and resorted to using voice command which works ok. The system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity along with Bluetooth and HD Radio.
Though there is a digital info display between analog dials, the entire gauge area could use a tech update. It would be nice to see the display change colors or animate in sport mode.
Mazda has some of my favorite high resolution cameras out there. The Premium Plus trim adds a 3D birds eye view, and a color head-up display. But I lamented the lack of a standard wireless charger, which is offered as a $275 accessory.
Ride and Drive
The Mazda3 delivers a sporty yet comfortable ride and it’s very smooth on the highway. It has a really great steering feel making you feel connected to the road. Handling is great while navigating a curved 2-lane road. Acceleration, again, feels amazing.
Overall I didn’t find the cabin as quiet as Mazda’s SUVs in highway driving. However, it’s lower to the ground with just 5.5-inches of ground clearance, which I suppose equals more road noise.
Premium Plus Features
Premium Plus features include the black rear spoiler, frameless auto dimming rearview mirror, leather seats, Mazda navigation, front and rear parking sensors, and a 360 degree view monitor.
Standard driver assistance features include Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Radar Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Driver Attention Alert, Brake Assist and High Beams. The Premium Plus adds Rear Cross Traffic, Rear Smart City Brake Support, Traffic Jam Assist and Traffic Sign Recognition.
The Mazda3 2.5 Turbo is an impressive compact sedan and you will not find a better looking, more fun to drive vehicle with this much near-luxury for under $35,000.
2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus
- What I liked most: Fantastic acceleration, fun to drive handling, exceptional interior.
- What I would change: Infotainment system. Bigger, wider tires for more grip. Add standard Wireless Charging.
- MSRP: Base price $32,450, as equipped $33,890 with transportation.
- Fuel Economy: Rated at 23 city/33 highway/27 combined.
- Official Color: Machine Gray Metallic. ($495)
- Odometer reading when tested: 7,550 miles.
- Weight: 3,379 pounds.
- Spare Tire: Temporary spare.
- RWD, AWD: All-Wheel Drive
- Length-Width-Height: 183.5” long/ 70.7” wide/ 56.9” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 12.7 gallons with the filler on the driver’s side.
- Towing Capacity: N/A.
- 2021 Mazda3 Turbo 2.5 in a few words: An engaging and fun to drive compact sedan that is right at home in the valet lane.
- Warranty: 3-year, 36,000-mile overall warranty; 5-year, 60,000-mile powertrain protection.
- Final Assembly Location: Hofu, Japan.
- Manufacturers website: Mazda