In 2021 the number of new hatchbacks on the market in the US is slowly dwindling thanks to unstoppable domination of crossovers that continue to replace small and affordable cars. This segment for the most part has become exclusively for enthusiasts, as the Volkswagen GTI and Hyundai Veloster N are the kings of this market in the $30k price range, while the Golf R and Honda Civic Type R have a loyal following and are often seen as cars for drivers looking for better overall performance. However, what if you’re a buyer who loves the practicality these hatchbacks offer, but you don’t want a sports tuned suspension and instead are looking for something a bit more luxurious and comfortable but still fun to drive. Well Mazda has you covered with the turbocharged Mazda3 that brings all those ingredients together to make owning a compact car enjoyable and sensible once again. So here are 5 reasons why you should a 2021 Mazda3 turbo premium plus!
When you think about the Mazda brand, luxury is most certainly not a characteristic you’d associate with this Japanese manufacturer, however over the last 5 years or so we have seen a transformation of their interiors where you could make the argument that they’re more refined than most competitors. The use of a rotary dial to navigate your way through the infotainment system rather than physical buttons avoids confusion and clutter and overall the interior design is actually very minimalistic, but it’s the attention to detail that makes stepping inside the Mazda3 Turbo a pleasant experience.
The soft touch padding found throughout, and the leather materials that are used makes you feel as though you’re sitting in a luxury vehicle. Compact cars often lack comfort and technology features that you’d find in the more expensive cars in the lineup, but for 2021 with the Premium Plus trim, you receive a heated steering wheel and a 360 degree top view camera with additional angles, which quite frankly we just don’t see from manufacturers that Mazda traditionally competes with. It’s for that reason, we wouldn’t hesitate to say that the Mazda3 Turbo from an interior design and comfort perspective, is actually the best in the hatchback market, as Volkswagen, Honda, Subaru, and Toyota just aren’t fully committed to giving drivers a cabin that impresses, especially in a price range below $40k. But because Mazda did focus much of their attention on the inside of this compact car, the Mazda3 could theoretically be cross-shopped with entry level luxury vehicles like the Audi A3, BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, and the Mercedes Benz A-Class.
If you’re looking at buying a hatchback, you have a very short list of options to choose from that’s going to provide decent performance for under $40k when buying new. It’s either the VW GTI or Hyundai Veloster N, but for 2021 you now have the Mazda3 Turbo, that’s going to give you 250 hp and 320 lb ft of torque with a 0-60 time right around 5.5 seconds, falling in right line with most competitors. Even though performance is one of the main selling points for this hatchback, we do have to warn you that the 6 speed automatic transmission is going to leave you desiring more if you’re an enthusiast.
Unlike the DSG in the GTI and all new dual clutch transmission in Veloster N, you don’t receive the most feedback during aggressive accelerations. You’re not going to be thrown back in your seat, and that’s something that did disappoint us. However, if you’re just looking for better performance in your daily driver, the 6 speed automatic pairs very well with the 2.5L turbocharged 4 cylinder, with smooth shifts through the gears. Rather than being aggressive and sporty, Mazda is giving you an exceptional amount if power but in the smoothest way possible, once again emphasizing luxury and a relaxing driving experience over sports car characteristics.
All around practical
Where the Mazda3 becomes a viable option for buyers looking for a daily driver is with it’s overall practicality, as for rear cargo space space you’ll have right around 20.1 cubic ft of room which will outclass most compact sedans. This is more than enough space for normal tasks, such as grocery shopping or for us plenty of room for our camera gear. While rear legroom is a bit tight, smaller passengers can sit in the 2nd row and not be too cramped. More importantly, for fuel economy you can expect to receive right around 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, so even with the turbocharged engine, the Mazda3 doesn’t sacrifice efficiency for a more engaging driving experience.
When taking into account the upscale interior, refined driving dynamics, and impressive performance, the $35k price tag seems pretty reasonable. Despite the addition of an aggressive body kit, the Mazda3 Turbo isn’t the flashiest vehicle in it’s segment, which actually could draw in buyers who wouldn’t necessarily see themselves as enthusiasts. While we don’t see Mazda as a true luxury brand, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that consumers may look at the Mazda3 in this price range when considering a Mercedes Benz A-Class or Audi A3, and we feel that these buyers will get a better bang for their buck if they go Japanese rather than German.
To some that may seem sacrilegious or blasphemous to not go with Mercedes Benz or Audi, but realistically you’re not receiving the best from those brands, and honestly you’re paying for the badge more than the value they offer. Because of where the Mazda3 Turbo Premium Plus is positioned, consumers have an alternative where they don’t have to buy a hatchback that’s as aggressive as the GTI with it’s sports tuned suspension and they don’t have to spend extra on going more upscale as this car is fully equipped at $35k.
Jack of All Trades
Lastly at number 1 on our list, the Mazda3 Turbo fits the bill for a wide range of consumers. Since it’s a hatchback, you have the practicality but also this compact car even with the turbo is still relatively fuel efficient as well. All turbo models are equipped with AWD for year round drivability if you live in colder regions of the country, and then of course as mentioned throughout this video you have the performance that will put a smile on your face and give you plenty of confidence on the highway when passing slower drivers. In addition, Mazda provides one of the more plush interiors on the market that could make the most tedious commutes enjoyable, and with the softer suspension setup you feel as though you’re in a true luxury car, which we can’t say about other compacts in this price range.
Overall it’s one of the best daily drivers out there, especially if you don’t need a crossover. The most important question is whether paying extra for the turbo is worth it, and from a performance standpoint absolutely. If the enhanced safety technology with the various camera angles and the aggressive body kit that comes with the Premium Plus isn’t a top priority, then we highly recommend going with the turbo trim which is priced right around $32k. Ultimately it’s a well rounded hatchback, that truly is a jack of all trades, and gives drivers a fun driving experience while also being somewhat sophisticated in exterior styling and interior design.