The turbocharged Mazda3 returns for 2021, but it's not the Mazdaspeed3 revival you were hoping for. That's OK, though. With its refined on-road manners, premium cabin and sophisticated styling, there's plenty to like about this punchy compact. Unfortunately, it doesn't come cheap.
You can get the Mazda3 Turbo as a hatchback, which is definitely the way I'd go, but for this review, I have the sedan. Turbo models come with a gloss black trim on the grille and front bumper, as well as 18-inch wheels. My car also has the Premium Plus package, which adds a gloss black rear spoiler. Machine Gray Metallic is kind of dull as far as body colors go, but paint this in Mazda's Soul Red and even this otherwise staid sedan would look hot.
The standard Mazda3 is already pretty fun to drive, with great steering and a balanced chassis. The Turbo just kicks it all up a notch. Mazda's 2.5-liter turbocharged I4 makes a healthy 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet -- if you run premium fuel, anyway. Stick with 87-octane gas and the power drops to 227 hp and 310 lb-ft. There's obviously a cost savings that would entice drivers to skip premium and go for regular unleaded, but it's not as expensive as you think. In California, based on current gas prices, it's only $3.77 per tank to get max power.
The Good ~ Punchy turbo engine ~ Excellent interior design ~ Sophisticated styling
The Bad ~ More expensive than competitors ~ Poor fuel economy ~ Steep infotainment learning curve
The Bottom Line The 2021 Mazda3 Turbo is a fun little all-wheel-drive runabout with a stellar design aesthetic, but it costs a lot more than its competitors.
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