LOS ANGELES—Welcome to the obvious automotive assessment you’ll ever learn. Mazda took a automotive we love, the 2020 Automobile All-Stars alumnus Mazda3, and added an engine we love, the 250-horsepower, 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder from its biggest SUV, the CX-9. In doing so, Mazda fastened the most important flaws of each: The Mazda Three wanted extra energy and the two.5T engine wanted a greater wrapper. What is the 2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo AWD wish to drive? After our take a look at, we all know it is each bit as sensible because the common Mazda 3, the chief distinction being you not have that pissed off look in your face once you attempt to energy out of a nook. However there’s a lot extra to speak about.

2021 Mazda Three 2.5 Turbo AWD Take a look at: Nonetheless Not the Automotive We Hoped For

Why? As a result of Mazda’s engineers are freaking sensible. I will spare you the lecture you’ve got learn in a half-dozen different Mazda critiques, about how Mazda engineers study how the human body moves when it walks and attempt to mimic that movement within the vehicles they design. The human mind robotically tunes out the movement of our head, and if Mazda could make its vehicles transfer just like the human physique—by way of suspension, tire and all-wheel-drive tuning—you possibly can successfully drive sooner with out your passengers doing the Technicolor yawn in your good clear flooring mats.

Now, let’s shift gears to the Honda Civic Type R. What units this incredible automotive other than its rivals is that it is one of many solely front-wheel-drive efficiency vehicles that suffers barely a whit from its front-wheel-drive-ness. Extra so than every other automaker, Honda has ironed out the entire issues we affiliate with having the identical wheels energy and steer. Seeing how effectively its suspensions work, I’ve little doubt Mazda might do the identical factor simply as effectively, if not higher.

2021 Mazda Three 2.5 Turbo AWD Take a look at: A Mazda With the Energy of a Chevy Small-Block

So, envision What Would possibly Have Been: A brand new 2021 Mazdaspeed 3, one with a handbook transmission and front-wheel drive somewhat than the 2021 Mazda Three 2.5 Turbo AWD’s standard-fit six-speed automated and front-wheel drive. Certain, the Mazda could be down on energy—250 hp versus the Civic Kind R’s 306 or the 275 you get from Hyundai’s incredible Veloster N. However take a look at the torque, man, the torque! The Mazda’s 2.5 turbo engine delivers 320 lb-ft, out-twisting the Honda and the Hyundai by 25 and 60 lb-ft, respectively. That is small-block-Chevy-from-the-1960s energy. Granted, you should run the Mazda on 93-octane gasoline to get this a lot energy, however even should you feed your Mazda common 87 octane, you are still at 227 hp and 310 lb-ft.

Primarily based on my expertise with the final Mazdaspeed 3, a hypothetical Mazdaspeed Three might have the potential handy the Civic Kind R it is personal ass on a silver platter. What a disgrace we’ll by no means discover out.

2021 Mazda Three 2.5 Turbo AWD Take a look at: Not That There’s Something Improper With It

To be truthful to Mazda, the 2021 Three 2.5T is, because it stands, an exceptionally good automotive. I imply, exceptionally good. I spent a lot of the 2007-ish period lambasting Mazda for its low cost interiors, and since then the designers have carried out a 360. My take a look at automotive had a black-and-red inside—not a vivid infantile BMW shade of purple, thoughts you, however one thing darker and extra mature, like these dried bloodstains you’ll by no means get out of your good white costume shirt. (Soda water? My foot.) The 2021 Mazda 3’s cabin is a stunning place to be, with a touch coated in delicate padded leather-based and expensive-feeling switchgear. Even the tick-tock of the directional alerts sounds upscale.

The LCD speedo (flanked by analog gauges) strikes with a smoothness that places Jaguar’s herky-jerky video sprint to disgrace. The local weather controls are a murals in the best way they appear, really feel, and function. Some dislike Mazda’s stereo controls, that are situated on the middle console aft of the shifter, however they’re fairly intuitive when you get used to them.

And there is nothing in any respect unsuitable with the best way the 2021 Mazda Three 2.5 Turbo AWD drives. I liked the non-turbo Mazda 3 AWD, and the turbo model is even higher. The facility is nice and even the engine notice is nice—a deep woh-woh-woh at decrease revs, the type of sound you may anticipate from the offspring of an Audi V-Eight and a Subaru Boxer—and it transitions to a conventional four-cylinder snarl at excessive revs. (When requested, Mazda was cagey about how a lot of the sound was synthetic. My guess is that the low-rpm thrum is electronically generated.)

2021 Mazda Three 2.5 Turbo AWD Take a look at: Who Wants an Eight-Pace Automated?

The automotive’s six-speed automated is a bit old-tech; Mazda informed us that fewer gears means much less shifting and a smoother trip, which is the actual similar excuse the corporate gave us in 2010 when it launched the Mazda 2 with a measly four-speed automated. The reality is that the two.5T’s torque curve is so broad and flat, and turbo lag so completely banished to the bottom finish of the rev vary, that downshifts are hardly ever wanted. Extra speeds within the gearbox means higher gasoline financial system, although, and I used to be shocked to see the Mazda Three consumed a quarter-tank of gasoline throughout my curvy-road sojourn. (I used to be really getting 22 mpg, which is not horrible, however the 2021 Mazda 3’s gasoline tank holds lower than 13 gallons.)

My digital notepad is stuffed with compliments about the best way the 2021 Mazda Three 2.5 Turbo AWD drove. Just like the common Mazda 3, the suspension by no means appears to give you the unsuitable reply. The trip is communicative however by no means uncomfortable, the steering communicative however by no means darty, shaky, or in any other case rude. One of many curves on my favourite take a look at route has a pointy kink with a sudden bump that catches out a variety of vehicles, however the Mazda Three 2.5T caught it the way Stellan Skarsgård catches the coffee cup in Ronin. (An obscure movie reference, I do know, however should you’re a automotive fanatic and you have not seen Ronin, there’s something critically unsuitable with you.) Push exhausting and the entrance tires finally run out of grip, and from the best way they let go it is clear they’re (simply barely) optimized for consolation over dealing with.

2021 Mazda Three 2.5 Turbo AWD Take a look at: Would You Take It Over a Mercedes?

The extra I examined the 2021 Mazda Three Turbo 2.5T AWD, the angrier I bought. What a missed alternative that is! No query, it’s a nice reasonably priced luxurious automotive—I will dare say it is as good as Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level A220, perhaps nicer. (And I do not say that evenly; the A220 might be the most effective entry-level premium vehicles on the market.) Each vehicles record for across the similar worth, and might you think about asking the typical American driver—not a automotive fanatic, only a common individual—”For $35 grand, which might you purchase, a Mazda or a Mercedes?” Everyone knows the reply.

I imply, hey, good on Mazda if it needs to push itself upscale (though look how well that worked for Volkswagen a decade and a half ago). However with the engineering know-how that makes this automotive so good—intelligence and excellence that virtually oozes from between the physique panels—the corporate might have turned it into one of many best sport-compact vehicles in the marketplace, the type of factor that might be a staple of comparability assessments for years to come back.

And but Mazda is leaving that automotive unbuilt, apparently as a result of of us who need it are infantile.

I would remind Mazda that it was younger fanatics who helped get the Mazda model the place it’s immediately. Certain, Mazda is having nice success with older, barely extra prosperous patrons, however the place did these individuals come from? Ten years in the past they have been shopping for small, cheap vehicles, and now they’ve children and want CX-30s and CX-9s. If Mazda dismisses vehicles just like the Mazdaspeed Three as infantile, the place is that subsequent technology of patrons going to come back from? It is all effectively and good to intention for an older, extra prosperous viewers, however should you ignore younger patrons, fanatics and influencers, subsequent factor you are Cadillac with a demographic aged between 65 and deceased.

So let’s loop again to the start. The 2021 Mazda Three 2.5 Turbo AWD is okay. No, it is not merely nice, it is nice—fast, snug, upscale, and good enjoyable to drive. It is a cut price luxurious automotive for these in-the-know. If Mazda can discover patrons who really wish to blow $35,000 (or the equal lease funds) on one thing aside from an SUV or a sports activities automotive or an entry-level Mercedes, no query, the model couldn’t have constructed them a greater automotive. With the brand new engine, Mazda has given us all the things we requested for within the Mazda 3, and we genuinely thank them.

However would I really purchase a 2021 Mazda Three 2.5 Turbo with my very own cash? Sorry, however no. I assume I am just a bit too infantile.

2021 Mazda Three 2.5 Turbo AWD Highlights

  • New top-of-the-line model of the Mazda 3
  • Accessible as a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback
  • Automated transmission and all-wheel drive come commonplace

2021 Mazda Three 2.5 Turbo AWD Execs

  • Solves the Mazda 3’s power-deficit drawback
  • Nicely-finished, upscale inside
  • Good suspension

2021 Mazda Three 2.5 Turbo AWD Cons

  • Good to drive however not precisely thrilling
  • No manual-transmission choice
  • Falls in need of its fanatic potential
2021 Mazda Three 2.5 Turbo AWD Hatchback Specs
ON SALE Late 2020
PRICE $34,695/$35,215 (base/as examined)
ENGINE 2.5L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/250 hp @ 5,000 rpm, 320 lb-ft @ 2,500  rpm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automated
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD hatchback
EPA MILEAGE 23/31 mpg (metropolis/hwy)
L x W x H 175.6 x 70.7 x 56.7 in
WHEELBASE 107.Three in
WEIGHT 3,389 lb
0-60 MPH 5.6 sec
TOP SPEED 130 mph