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The Mazda3 Turbo is an Impressive AWD Luxury Compact Car

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Is the 2021 Mazda3 Turbo the new incarnation of the Mazdaspeed3 or a whole new animal taking on giants? We dive into the all-new all-wheel-drive compact.

The Mazda3 Turbo Is Going To Try To Walk A Tightrope

Mazda has turned its favor to its compact-sized offering in 2021 by imbuing it with the same turbocharged 4-cylinder engine found elsewhere in the lineup. That alone is exceptional news as it’s been years since the last Mazda3 with forced induction was available from the factory. That hasn’t made it a bad car though. We tested it the last generation against the Dodge Dart and it walked away with the victory. Nevertheless, this isn’t the MazdaSpeed3 of yesteryear, no this is a whole new animal. Mazda has seen the success of Subaru and other companies that have modernized and matured their designs to gain more followers and buyers. To that end, we’re excited to take a deep dive into this small car that’s trying to walk an automotive tightrope between different groups of customers – the 2021 Mazda3 Turbo.

Speedy but not MazdaSpeed Speedy

2021 Mazda3 Turbo - mazdausa.com

2021 Mazda3 Turbo – mazdausa.com  |  Shop new Mazda3 on Carsforsale.com

While many automotive enthusiasts are missing the glory days of the MazdaSpeed lineup, including skunkworks versions of the 3 and 6, this is not an answer to their letters. The Mazda3 Turbo is a step in the right direction though. First, the 250 horsepower turbocharged engine will surely be well received by those wanting a small, spritely means of conveyance. If that’s not enough power for buyers, then surely the aftermarket will provide the additional punch drivers want.

2021 Mazda3 Turbo - mazdausa.com
2021 Mazda3 Turbo - mazdausa.com

Every turbocharged 3 will be linked to the exceptional i-Activ all-wheel-drive system. So for all those that are more interested in spirited driving, better balance, and less understeer can be enjoyed. What enthusiasts won’t love is the lack of a manual option no matter which turbo model you might select. Still, Mazda seems tuned into such desires, at least to some degree, as they’ve included standard paddle shifters to manually operate the 6-cogged automatic gearbox. So if they’ve toed the line here between a pure sports car and a slightly more powerful econobox, it makes us wonder why.

Aiming At Bigger Fish

2021 Mazda3 Turbo - mazdausa.com
2021 Mazda3 Turbo - mazdausa.com

The beauty of what Mazda is doing here is that while these aren’t pure sports cars, they are sporty enough to provide a premium feeling driving experience. What’s more is that when you look at the inside and outside of the car, that theme continues. Notice the Hofmeister kink in the rear window. That was made famous by BMW and that’s an indication of who Mazda is gunning for with this small car. The interior is dripping with elegant style and premium-feeling materials. Take in the large 8.8-inch infotainment screen and the center control stack that looks like it was ripped out of an Audi and you’ll begin to get the theme here. Every Mazda3 Turbo will also come with heated seats and a heated steering wheel standard. Still, many of these features seem to be little more than standard trim on German luxury cars, but what isn’t is the technology packed into the Mazda3.

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2021 Mazda3 Turbo - mazdausa.com
2021 Mazda3 Turbo - mazdausa.com

For example, you’ll get dynamic cruise control that can even assist during traffic with what Mazda calls Activsense. This feature can help drivers steer, slow down and speed back up so long as speeds stay below 40 mph. There’s a 360-degree view monitor too and Smart Brake support for things that are about to cross your path while in reverse. Each of these is something left off the base model of the BMW 3-series and that costs $41,000 compared to the Mazda3 Turbo that sits at $30,000. This thing might not be a full-on luxury car but it’s doing a wonderful job of providing a balanced attack that includes many luxury features with a potent powertrain that will impress many. It’s very tough to change the way buyers view a product, but this effort looks good enough that it might just snatch some sales away from the folks in Bavaria. We can’t wait to drive it and find out for ourselves.

2021 Mazda3 Turbo - mazdausa.com

2021 Mazda3 Turbo – mazdausa.com  |  Shop new Mazda3 on Carsforsale.com

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Stephen Rivers

Stephen is a car enthusiast who loves all things built with passion. In his free time, he’s usually at a hockey rink, walking his dogs, or on a road bike. His automotive tastes lean towards cars that oftentimes seem to take a pound of flesh for the ethereal pleasure they provide: things like the Lamborghini Diablo, TVR Cerbera, and a C4 Corvette turned into a street-legal go-kart. He drives his Bugeye Subaru WRX in Autocross, Rallycross, and track day competitions throughout the year and daily drives a twin-turbo BMW 535i.

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