Skip to main content

2021 Mazda3 Nails the Appeal of Near-Luxury Hot Hatchbacks

In the market for a hot hatch that won’t break your bank account or your back? The 2021 Mazda3 is a smart choice.

Join us...    

A greater mind than mine (admittedly a low threshold to cross) perfectly put the appeal of the 2021 Mazda3 into perspective for me. This is the hot hatch for people who are either too advanced in age or too successful to be bothered driving the hot hatches of their youth.

Who needs loud and harsh when refined and supple is available? The 2021 Mazda3 is the supple, refined hot hatchback you must drive if visions of souped-up Honda Civics battle for space in your head with thoughts of chiropractor visits.

This Mazda earns its hot hatchback status from its Skyactiv-G 2.5 Turbo engine that produces 250 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 320 lb-ft of torque (with 93 Octane gas in the tank). The numbers drop to 227 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. with 87 octane. The engine is mated to the Skyactiv-Drive six-speed automatic 
transmission with manual shift mode and sport mode.

It’s fun to mash the accelerator in normal mode but flick the indicator to sport mode and this is one thrilling ride. Handling is superb thanks to the standard i-Activ All-Wheel Drive and G-Vectoring Control Plus.

With sport mode on, the Mazda3 downshifts when you’re braking. This avoids that awkward shifting that always seems to drag me down. This delivers what Mazda accurately calls a “more dynamic and natural feeling in and out of corners.” This is one of the more affordable corner-carvers on the market.

2021 Mazda3 grille

A great safety feature is Smart City Brake Support Reverse with Rear Cross-Traffic Braking. This new i-Activsense safety features can help a driver by automatically applying the brakes when the vehicle is reversing at speeds between 2 to 4 mph if an obstacle exists or when backing out of a parking space a crossing vehicle is detected. You’ll jump the first time it goes off. It’s not a lifesaver per se, but the best accident is the one you never have.

Mazda continues to deliver great interiors. I’m the owner of a 2008 Mazda5 and its interior has aged well. I think the same can be predicted for the 2021 Mazda3. I especially like the seven-inch projected digital gauge that benefits from a reconfigurable display to provide useful details, such as speed limits and diagnostic information.

2021 Mazda3 rearview

As our Mazda expert John Goreham points out, the Mazda3 hatchback makes sense from a practical perspective, too. The Mazda3 Hatchback offers 20.1 cubic feet of cargo volume. It’s a legitimate hauler.

In the market for a car that harkens back to your glory days? But won’t cripple you on long drives? And still get your heart racing? The 2021 Mazda3 hatchback with the 2.50liter turbo engine and all-wheel drive is a wise choice.

Mazda3 Basics
Price, base (with destination): $33,890 Fuel economy: 23-city/32-highway/27-combined Drivetrain: 2-5-liter turbocharged engine with six-speed automatic: four-door hatchback

Mazda3 Specs
Horsepower: 227 @ 5,000 rpm Torque: 310 @ 2,000 rpm Overall length: 175.6 in. Wheelbase: 107.3 in. Height: 56.7 in. Width: 70.7 in. Curb weight: 3,383 lbs.

Keith Griffin covers Hyundai and Kia at Torque News. He has been writing continuously about cars since 2002. Keith used to be a researcher/writer for US News & World Report, as well as numerous car sites, including Carfax and Car Gurus, and a contributor to The Boston Globe. Most recently, Keith was the managing editor for American Business Media. Follow Keith at @indepthauto on Twitter, on @LinkedIn and on his Indepth Auto Facebook page.

Join us...