Admittedly, at first glance, this Turbo version does not seek to stand out at all costs, a sign of a stylistic approach that is very, even perhaps too, balanced. Taking the compact GT livery as a basis, the designers simply added two larger diameter exhaust pipes and a small “Turbo” badge on the rear trunk lid. We are very far from the stylistic acrobatics of certain competitors with sporting aspirations. This Mazda3 Turbo hopes, by the same token, to place itself above the fray by exploiting the intrinsic refinement of the design of this Mazda3. The sedan version tested remains a success in this regard, especially when painted in its magnificent metallic red married with various black accents, including the grille. However, we would have liked more differentiation, to clearly mark its hierarchical rank.
This latest generation of the Mazda3 remains a benchmark in the aesthetic arrangement of its materials as well as their quality. The assembly is extremely careful, undoubtedly more rigorous than many rivals of luxury brands. Mazda has also placed emphasis on frequently touched surfaces, which are generally made of soft materials. The keys also give an impression of solidity, especially those placed on the steering wheel. True to its design philosophy, the focus is on the cockpit with an infotainment screen placed near the instrument cluster. The physical keys of the central nacelle are also positioned not too low to avoid looking too low when driving. Side interior volume, this Mazda is in the middle of the pack. Up front, it’s very welcoming, with nicely sculpted seats. It is a little less at the rear, without it being a priori a big surprise given its size.
Under the hood
The mainstay of this Turbo version is obviously its engine. Engineers have neither more nor less than grafted the mechanics of the Mazda CX-9 into the compact, a 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder producing 227 hp (250 hp with 93 octane gasoline). It is mated to a traditional six-speed automatic transmission. Without displaying extremely impressive figures, this mill is rather the fruit of very thorough work which seeks to ensure its linearity. Behavior inspired by a V6, assured us the engineer responsible for its development. This work is certainly palpable behind the wheel. The thrust is constant and without marked delay, particularly at mid-range. It stops too quickly, however, the transmission forcing gear changes – a little soft – around 5,700 rpm. However, it is the smoothness of the rendering that is impressive. This four-cylinder is particularly smooth and well balanced in terms of sound.
Behind the wheel
To make sure that this gain in power does not upset the balance of this Mazda3, the damping has been slightly firmed up. There is no adaptive damping, however. The steering has also been reworked, but retains a ratio equal to the atmospheric versions, which could have been changed to allow for a more direct appearance. This Mazda3 Turbo is also equipped with a standard all-wheel drive which increases the transfer of torque to the rear compared to other liveries. This is palpable when re-accelerating in the middle of a curve, which supports great agility. Overall, the compact sedan retains its dynamic range, featuring a rear axle (again with a solid axle) that seems to deal better with rough edges. Guided by a steering wheel that is a little too large in circumference, the front axle gives an impression of lightness, placing the car with acuity. The four-wheel drive does a great job of dealing with torque (310 lb-ft with 87 octane gasoline). We perceive a beautiful maturity in the execution, supported by good soundproofing.
To ensure the attractiveness of the Mazda3 Turbo, the Japanese manufacturer has added a few strings to its technological arc. For a reasonable sum of $ 1,700 above the starting price of the sedan version ($ 32,900), you get additional driving aids, including parking sensors and a good 360-degree camera system to make driving easier. parking maneuvers. However, active aids do not aim to offer semi-autonomous support, but rather to supervise the driver to avoid clashes. Moreover, the infotainment system remains as elegant as ever, but still requires far too much handling for normal navigation. It also does not offer a telematics application for smart phones, a must if you want to compete with luxury brands. In terms of sound, the Bose system offered as standard in this GT livery remains one of the best in the segment for its depth.
Is this Turbo version so good that it can claim to shake up entry-level vehicles from German luxury manufacturers? Apart from a transmission that would benefit from being more nervous and an infotainment system that would require adjustments, the Japanese can undoubtedly pose a real threat to them. However, this analysis obscures the importance of the attractiveness of luxury brands. This idea, irresistible to some, of owning a product covered in a luxury patent can play a big part in the decision-making process. Mazda does not have this notoriety, at least not yet, and will certainly have to invest in the customer experience to support its aspirations. But, beyond this observation, the Mazda3 Turbo is a well-born car, offering a consistent and playful temperament in its hours. It would just lack a touch of singularity to establish its positioning.
The price argument
With a starting price of $ 32,900, the Mazda3 Turbo compares favorably with luxury rivals personified by the Audi A3 ($ 34,500), Mercedes Class A ($ 37,300) and BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé (42 $ 500) in terms of equipment.
A reasonable jump
The Turbo version demands an additional $ 2,400 on top of the all-wheel drive GT version, making it an attractive offering with close estimated fuel consumption (8.2 L / 100 km compared to 8.8 L / 100 km for the Turbo).
Migration to more equipped versions
Well aware of the decline in sales of its Mazda3, Mazda has found that the average buyer is gradually migrating to the more equipped GT livery, which has motivated the offer of the turbo engine for this variation.
No manual transmission on the menu anytime soon
The manufacturer was categorical when presenting the model to journalists: this Turbo version will never be fitted with a manual gearbox. The investments that it would require are not justifiable because of the weak demand in the eyes of Mazda.
Lots of storage
The Mazda3 has a good amount of storage well arranged at the front, which takes care of its practicality.
Model under test
Mazda3 Sedan GT Turbo
L4 DOHC 2.5L Turbocharged
227 hp @ 5,000 rpm (250 hp with 93 octane)
310 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm (320 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm with 93 octane)
Six-speed automatic with manual mode
Front transverse engine, all-wheel drive
8.8 L / 100 km
Price (with options, transport and preparation)
Acura ILX, Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz Class A / CLA, BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé
New in 2021?
New version (Turbo)
To know more