2021 Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo First Look: Speedier, Even If It’s No Mazdaspeed 3

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Mazda is bringing forced induction back to its compact models with the arrival of the 2021 Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo trim. As expected, following an early peek at the turbo 3, the latest addition to the 3 family (that means the sedan and hatchback) cribs its turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine from its 6, CX-5, and CX-9 siblings. As in its crossover kin, the forced induction four-pot produces a mighty 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque when fed a steady diet of 93 octane (the 6 sedan maxes out at 310 lb-ft). Fill the fuel tank with anything less potent and the engine pumps out 227 horses and 310 lb-ft of twist.

Despite its high output, the turbocharged 3 is no replacement for the Mazdaspeed 3 hot hatchbacks of yore. Whereas the old Mazdaspeed models—there were two generations before it faded away—had its sights set on driver-focused vehicles such as the Honda Civic Si and Volkswagen Golf GTI, the 2.5 Turbo appears to take aim at more affordable luxury-branded options like the Audi A3 and BMW 2 Series. Credit a standard, and less enthusiast-friendly, six-speed automatic gearbox that sends the turbo 3’s grunt to all four contact patches via standard all-wheel drive. Care to shift gears for yourself? Then hopefully the 3’s steering-wheel-mounted paddles satisfy your itch because there’s no manual transmission on the menu.

Looks Like the 2021 Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo

Further evidence of the turbo 3’s grownup nature relative to that of the rambunctious old Mazdaspeed 3 comes courtesy of the new car’s decidedly tame looks. Rather than fit the 2.5 Turbo with a myriad of model-specific exterior styling details, spoilers, and vents, Mazda instead kept the trim’s decor much the same as its less powerful counterpart. Keen eyes, however, will note the 2.5 Turbo’s larger tailpipes, gloss black exterior mirror housings (with heated mirrors), model-specific trunk badge, frameless rearview mirror, and chrome finishes around the push-button starter and glovebox. Sedans also sport a gloss black grille and slightly altered lower fascia.

While every 2.5 Turbo boasts standard features such as a 12-speaker Bose audio system, a head-up display, heated seats, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, automatic high-beam headlights, and more, those in search of even more comfort, convenience, and safety tech can opt for the Premium Plus package. Alongside a gloss-black trunk or hatch-mounted spoiler (and front air dam on the hatch), the package adds automated emergency braking in reverse, a surround-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, leather seats, navigation, and a lane-centering function, which works with the adaptive cruise control to accelerate and steer the car at speeds of less than 40 mph.

The 2021 Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo Reaches Dealers Before Year’s End

Mazda’s mum on pricing for 2021 3 2.5 Turbo, however, the brand notes the car is due to go on sale before year’s end—or a few months after the naturally aspirated 2021 Mazda 3 hits dealerships. That said, we expect Mazda to charge just under $30,000 for the 2.5 Turbo sedan and hatch, which ought to put it somewhere between the slightly sportier Volkswagen Jetta GLI and Golf GTI, which currently start at $27,965 and $30,315 when equipped with an automatic transmission. 

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