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2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo - Review by Larry Nutson

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Refined: yes, Restrained: no

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau

Mazda North American Operations just reported total August 2021 sales of 27,262 vehicles, an increase of 4.6 percent compared to August 2020. Year-to-date sales totaled 249,168 vehicles; an increase of 39.2 percent compared to the same time last year. And Mazda3 sales for the year are up 23.8 percent.

As a point of reference, the Mazda3 was redesigned for 2019 with new refined and premium styling and features. It was the winner of the 2020 World Car Design of the Year. The Mazda3 also became available with all-wheel drive for the first time. Missing was more go power.

You can read about my drive of the new 2019 Mazda3 right here.

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A number of months ago Mazda together with the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) hosted a virtual presentation to share news about the 2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo. Kingsley Iduma, Mazda’s Vehicle Line Planning Manager, led the Zoom meeting to share primary highlights.

Following this I recently spent time driving the new 2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo to experience for myself its elevated performance. The 5-passenger subcompact is available as a sedan or hatchback. The new 2.5-L turbo is rated at 250-hp and 320 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive is standard.

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Note that the 250-hp is with premium (93 octane) fuel. Engine output is 227-hp on 87 octane regular. EPA fuel economy ratings for the hatchback are 26 mpg combined with 23 city mpg and 31 highway mpg. The sedan is rated one mpg higher in the highway test. Fuel mileage is not affected by fuel octane.

Mazda3 2.5 Turbo pricing starts at $29,900 for the sedan and $30,900 for the hatchback. Equipped with the Premium Plus package pricing is $32,450 and $33,750, respectively. Shipping and delivery fee is $945. Mazda vehicles are among the best handling small cars and are known for their sporty and yet comfortable driving dynamics. The Mazda3 2.5 Turbo has a retuned suspension with stiffer springs and damping and a stiffer front knuckle that helps provide more direct steering response. Driving is refined along with excellent ride and handling when pushed to the limit.  The i-Activ AWD uses data from the car’s g-sensors to calculate how weight is shifting from tire to tire as you drive and sends torque to the tires that can generate the most grip, helping improve performance in any weather.

The turbo hatchback offers two Appearance Package options. With the Premium Plus package, the front air dam and rear roof spoiler come standard, and the upgraded Appearance Package includes a rear diffuser and side sill extensions. Additionally, all four aerodynamic accessories can be equipped on the standard Mazda3 2.5 Turbo hatchback with its own Appearance Package option. New BBS 18-inch gloss black forged wheels are available.

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The Premium Plus package includes leather seats, navigation system, gloss black front air dam, gloss black rear hatch spoiler, front and rear parking sensors, traffic sign recognition, navigation system, rear smart brake support, rear cross traffic alert with braking, a 360-degree monitor and traffic jam assist. Additional premium features include a color head-up display with street-sign recognition and 12-speaker Bose audio system.

A complete contingent of advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) features is available that greatly enhance overall safety and work to reduce or mitigate crashes. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities are standard.

My Mazda3 2.5 Turbo drive was in the hatchback body style finished in Polymetal Gray Metallic with a Black interior. Also equipped was the Premium Plus package bringing the total MSRP to $34,820.

I’ve liked hatchbacks for many years now. They’re more practical and versatile than a sedan. Their shorter overall length makes them easy to maneuver, especially in tight city streets.

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For comparison the hatchback is 175.6 inches long and has 20.1 cu.ft. of cargo space. Whereas, the sedan is 183.5 inches long and has 13.2 cu.ft. of cargo space.

The new turbo in the Mazda3 makes it a blast to drive. Acceleration from stop to 60 mph is in less than 6 seconds. That’s plenty quick for lots of fun. Manual shift and sport modes provide sports car-like transmission control and shifting. Drive hard into a turn and Mazda’s G-vectoring along with AWD provides for lots of confidence as well as fun.

More details and information on the 2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo can be found at

Mazda’s auto parking brake is not one of my well-liked features. The parking brake is automatically applied when you shut the car off and after you restart it’s automatically released when you apply the throttle. Well, there’s a lag in the brake release causing the car to “crouch” when going forward or “arch up” when backing on its rear suspension. Even my wife commented on this behavior.

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The Mazda3 Turbo is very quick. Its compact exterior dimensions make it easy to maneuver. Its small size makes it easy to toss around, if you know what I mean. The interior is very well executed and stylish. Overall the Mazda3 Turbo offers lots of good value for the money.

© 2021 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy