Mazda had a pretty good track record of producing fun to drive compact cars.
But for 2021 they have taken their much-loved Mazda3 Sport to another level with the introduction of a turbocharged engine. That extra power also comes with an all-wheel drive system, which makes this model a bit of a rare breed in these parts.
While the Mazda3 Sport has an attractive starting price point of $21,600, the GT trim we tested, with the turbo engine and Premium Package, has a final bill of $35,900.
All things considered, that’s not too shabby for an all-wheel drive, compact and sporty hatchback.
The $1,700 Premium Package adds some safety items like front and crossing smart brake support, front and rear parking sensors, head-up display, a 360-degree monitor, front wiper de-icer and more.
Powertrain: The turbo gets bolted on to the 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine in the Mazda3 GS and GT trims (a 2.0L engine is on the base GX).
It ups the horsepower on the Mazda3 Sport from 186 horsepower to 250 – with the caveat being you need to use 93 octane fuel for the engine to reach its full potential. The same goes for the torque, which maxes out at 320 lb-ft.
Using regular unleaded does take things down a notch, but only slightly with figures of 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque.
Those numbers are still a significant boost from the standard engine, and the end result is a hatchback that is plenty peppy.
It’s paired to a six-speed automatic, which I found to be very good, and Mazda’s I-Activ all-wheel drive system.
Despite that power, the Mazda3 Sport Turbo still has a respectable estimated fuel consumption average of 8.9 litres per 100 kilometres. I unfortunately missed that mark by a wide margin (10.4 L/100 km), but that could be because most of my driving was done in the city.
Exterior: In my opinion, Mazda’s designs are some of the better-looking ones out there these days, and the Mazda3 Sport is no exception.
With the brand’s KODO design language as its guiding principle, the Mazda3 Sport design gives the vehicle a nice stance while also mixing in flowing lines. The combination results in a sleek yet powerful looking hatchback.
I also really enjoyed the Polymetal Grey Metallic paint on our tester, despite the $200 surcharge, and the gloss black front grille added with the Premium Package.
Interior: Equally enticing is the cabin, especially when outfitted with the Pure White leather seating surfaces and trim as seen in our tester.
It’s a touch of luxury that is definitely appreciated – and perhaps unexpected – in this segment.
The entire cabin is also very nicely laid out, and with it being on the smaller side, everything is close at hand for the driver.
The controls are almost imperceptible in the dash as they blend in with the silver trim.
Also added with the Premium Package, buyers get a satin chrome-plated bezel on steering wheel horn pad, push button start and glove box lever, as well as a frameless rear-view mirror. Just another way the Mazda3 Sport gives off an aura of class.
Infotainment: The infotainment screen, like on so many models these days, protrudes from the top of the dash. But it’s a very proportionate screen to the size of the cabin and really fits in well with the design.
The system is perhaps not the most colourful out there, as it does use mostly monochromatic menus, and there are sometimes a few too many steps to take to do simple tasks, but once you get used to it, it’s a decent system.
A control dial and buttons in the central console allows you to navigate the menus and functions.
The system comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for connectivity, and in our tester featured navigation and satellite radio.
Drive: Putting that much extra power into a car can sometimes ruin the driving performance, but that is not the case here.
The Mazda3 Sport GT Turbo has lots of zip, but also remains a very stable and competent driver be it on city streets or the highway.
The available low-end torque makes this a very enjoyable everyday vehicle as the engine doesn’t have to work too hard to move you around. But when called upon, as in getting onto highways or passing slower traffic, the turbo engine roars to life with gusto and ensures that the Mazda3 gets moving – fast!
Switching the engine into “Sport” mode only make it even more sprightly and enjoyable.
Overall, the ride always feels stable and the AWD system is an added feature that minimizes wheel slip and is a definite selling point for Canadian consumers.
Conclusion: There’s little to complain about with the Mazda3 Turbo. It looks excellent on the outside with lots of curves to keep the eye’s attention. The cabin is, quite frankly, one of the nicest it its segment and may even be punching above its weight class here.
Add to that some potent power under the hood and some great drive characteristics, and you have some pretty compelling reasons to consider this vehicle.
2021 Mazda3 Sport GT Turbo
Price as tested: $35,900.00
Configuration: Front engine/All-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.5-litre turbo Four-cylinder/ Six-speed automatic
Power/torque: 250 horsepower/ 320 ft-lb of torque
Fuel (capacity): Regular (48 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 8.9 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 10.4 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/unlimited km (basic)
Competitors: Kia Forte, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla Hatchback, Subaru WRX, : Volkswagen GTI
Links: Mazda Canada