2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus Hatchback - Review by Bruce Hotchkiss +VIDEO
It adds up to being a very good deal
By Bruce Hotchkiss*
West Coast Bureau
The Auto Channel
First impressions are important, they stick with you. So my first impression of the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus Hatchback was, "Wow that paint is gorgeous!" The color is called Soul Red Crystal Metallic, I thought it was almost Candy Apple Red.
The Mazda3 was a nice size for me (with one exception). It will seat four fairly comfortably (although it will seat five in a pinch) and the rear hatch gives easy access to the 20.1 cubic feet of storage (a sedan is available; it has 13.2 cubic feet of storage). The exception is something that affects many of us older folks – the seats are low so getting in and out is a task (creaky knees and such).
The rear seat is adequate for two adults as long as the driver and front seat passenger aren't too tall. Mazda says there is almost a yard of legroom in the back but I suspect that is with the front seat scooted all the way forward. The Mazda3 is no different in this aspect than most small cars.
I'm sure there will be some who will complain that there is no manual transmission available. Well get used to it, I have. The new breed of auto transmissions are more efficient than most manuals (because the A/T can deliver the best gear all the time and generally shift faster), and they can allow manual operation if you feel the need. The Mazda3 2.5 Turbo uses a 6-speed automatic, and comes standard with All-Wheel-Drive. Generally I left the automatic transmission program in its normal program. When in Sport mode the shifts are a bit crisper, and the gears are held longer.
Under the hood is the 2.5-liter, SKYACTIVE-G Turbo, four-cylinder that puts out up to 250 hp. I say up to because the output is dependent on the octane rating of the gasoline you use. The max horsepower is with 93 octane, the lowest horsepower rating is 227 with regular fuel.
One odd thing about the engine was the sound, at least inside the car. I swear it sounded like a Subaru flat-four. It had me scratching my head.
There used to be a time when every car review included a picture of the engine. Now not so much. You really can't see the engine in many cars, just some big plastic cover.
I didn't do any street racing in the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo, although I did get into it now and then. Magazines that do instrumented testing say it is capable of 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds or less. Not bad.
I found visibility to the rear was somewhat restricted because of the slope of the roof and the wide C-pillar. Judicious use of the mirrors helps.
Way back in 1988 Mazda made a turbocharged, AWD, 2-door hatch, the 323 GTX. New it cost $12,749 according to NADA. Calculating inflation that would be $28,344 today. A base 2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo sedan starts at $30,050, not that far off. And the 2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo is more a Gran Tourer than a pocket rocket.
The test Mazda3 2.5 Turbo Premium lists at $33,750 plus $595 for the gorgeous paint, $125 for a rear bumper guard, and $945 delivery fee for a grand total of $35,415. Personally I don’t think that’s bad for a car this nice, this quick, and one that can return decent (23-mpg city and 31-mpg highway) fuel economy.
*Author's Note: I have been writing car reviews since 1984. I am a Certified Automotive Technician although I no longer ply that trade. I worked for twenty years for the California Department of Consumer Affairs & Bureau of Automotive Repair. I sat on three legislative advisory committees. I wrote an automotive column for the Tracy Press, and before that the Pacifica Tribune. I was a member of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada and am a member of the Western Automotive Journalists.