Mazda3 Turbo Lives Up to Zoom, Zoom Legacy

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CHATHAM, Mass. – For many years Mazda had a simple advertising slogan – zoom, zoom – to project its cars as having fun-producing performance. The company has continued to engineer its products to fulfill this promise and for 2021 dropped a turbocharged engine into the Mazda3 Turbo to prove zoom, zoom continues as an integral part of its DNA.

Driving the Mazda3 Turbo this past week consistently put a smile on my face; this car is a lot of fun to drive and you can have your fun without breaking the bank (either in up-front costs or at the gas pump) or sacrificing security.

How safe is the 2021 Mazda3 Turbo? This week it was one of 49 cars named by the IIHS as a Top Safety Pick+, the highest award the organization can bestow on a vehicle. In fact, all of Mazda’s sedans, hatchbacks and SUVs/CUVs received this coveted award!

More zoom, zoom for 2021 in the Mazda3 Turbo

The heart of the new Mazd3 Turbo is the turbocharged four-cylinder engine with G-Vectoring Control Plus. The powerplant produces some 250-horsepower and 320 pounds-feet of torque on 93-octane fuel (220 and 310 respectively when running on 87-octane).

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The G-Vectoring Control provides a more sporting feel when driving on twisty roads, something at which the Turbo excels! With sport mode on, the car will automatically downshift under braking and avoid unnecessary shifting mid-corner to help provide a more dynamic and natural feeling in and out of corners.

The front suspension is also retuned with stiffer springs and damping to maintain the same ride comfort with the addition of the turbo engine. A stiffer front knuckle helps provide a more direct steering response on all 2021 Mazda3 models, including the Turbo.

Getting this power to the pavement is Mazda’s i-Active AWD (all-wheel drive) system which is rear-wheel biased to further enhance the sporting driving characteristics. A six-speed, sport-tuned automatic transmission is also part of the powertrain package.

i-Activesense leads Mazda’s advanced driver-assist systems

The Turbo Premium Package Plus example like I drove brought a broad group of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) which were presented in a very agreeable manner. The warning tones were customizable allowing for enough sound to alert the driver (along with steering-wheel vibration for lane-departure warning) without becoming so obnoxious he/she will turn it off.

In addition, the head-up display – Mazda’s Active Driving Display – showed crucial ADAS warnings (like blind-spot monitoring) along with vehicle speed, road-sign recognition and navigation information in a clear, easy-to-see manner (and, unlike most other cars’ systems, even is visible while wearing sunglasses!).

New for 2021 in the Premium Package Plus are i-Activesense like Smart City Brake Support Reverse with Rear Cross-Traffic Braking which can help a driver by automatically applying the brakes when the vehicle is reversing at speeds between two and four miles per hour if an obstacle exists or when backing out of a parking space if a crossing vehicle is detected. From leaving parking spots to backing out of a driveway, these new features help the driver avoid accident-causing obstacles.

Another new feature is Traffic Jam Assist that enhances the preexisting technology of Mazda Radar Cruise Control by providing steering inputs at speeds under 40 mph. From warning of lane deviation to the slowing of vehicles ahead, this feature takes the stress out of commutes by giving the driver all the information necessary to help be in better control of their drive.

Other ADAS features we experienced were rear cross-traffic alert; lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist; automatic high beams; adaptive front-lighting system; 360° view monitor; driver-attention alert; front and rear parking sensors (with camera views when parking or unparking) and Mazda radar cruise control.

Vehicle stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes (ABS) add to the dynamic security systems provided to Turbo drivers.

Interior refinements and amenities equal to the Premium name

The comprehensively equipped Mazda3 Turbo Premium Package Plus sedan incorporates a simple, straightforward interior with logically aligned controls for all vehicle functions, including a superb mix of central-display, dash buttons and steering-wheel buttons to activate the systems.

The look is understated but the amenities, fit and finish and features fulfill the Premium promise. Leather, heated seats provide excellent support (important considering the spirited driving the Turbo encourages). The driver’s seat is electrically adjusted with two-person memory (also including outside rear-view mirror settings).

A 12-speaker Bose® audio system projects the infotainment sources’ sounds (including SiriusXM satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) again with multiple means of controlling the information, including standard navigation, which appears on the 8.8-inch central display.

The cost of driving fun is quite reasonable

Despite the performance capabilities of the Mazda3 Turbo and its almost magical ability to get you to use that power, the four-door sedan turns in excellent fuel-economy results. The federal Environmental Protection Agency rates the car at 27 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving (23/32 city/highway), but I saw 28.1 mpg during my time behind the wheel. Very impressive!

The Mazda3 sedan (it can also be had as a five-door hatchback) range begins at $20,650 and builds to the Premium Package Plus version I drove at $32,945 (plus $945 for delivery, processing and handling) – good value for all this driving enjoyment in an economical and safe vehicle.

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The design and execution of this comfortable, cozy cabin combines with the Mazda3 Turbo’s dynamic qualities to enhance the driving experience. It is very easy to become one with the car to really experience the dedication Mazda’s engineers have made to producing a fun car to drive.

Zoom, zoom lives in today’s Mazda’s, especially the Mazda3 Turbo!

Next week TBR Drives the Kia K5 sedan.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.