NEWS: 2021 Mazda 3 Turbo will destroy all comers with a $29,900 base price

There are few new cars more hotly anticipated around the JNC offices than the Mazda 3 Turbo. The non-turbo is already an absolute hoot, and on paper the forced-induction version looked to be even better, with 250-horses, 320 lb-ft (on 93 octane fuel, 227 horsepower, 310 lb-ft on regular), but we feared that the boosted 2.5 SkyActiv-G would bump the price too high. Well, now Mazda has announced that it will start at an extremely reasonable $29,900. 

That puts the Mazda 3 Turbo at on par with its closest competitor in the sport compact class, the upcoming Mk8 Volkswagen GTI. However, the Mazda will offer 9 more horsepower and a whopping 47 more lb-ft of torque. The next closest, the Hyundai Veloster N, equals the 3 in horses but generates 60 fewer lb-ft of torque while costing $2,300 less. Then there’s the Subaru WRX, which costs $2,200 less, and has a 16 more horsepower but is down 52 lb-ft. All of these come in a manual, which the 3 does not, but as we have argued before, that doesn’t affect the driving experience of the 3.

However, we will be the first to tell you that numbers don’t tell the whole story. We haven’t driven the GTI, but the Hyundai Veloster N is an incredibly visceral hot hatch. It’s extremely tossable, and charges like an eager puppy. In contrast, the Mazda offers a more mature driving experience. A non-car nerd might be embarrassed to be picked up for a date in a Veloster N, but you might actually get points for the 3.

Where it counts, the Mazda can still take turns brilliantly and aggressively, but smoothes out the Hyundai’s rough edges with more graceful motions and less turbulence. Plus, the Mazda 3 Turbo is AWD, offers a downright gorgeous interior, and has probably the most driver-friendly cabin in its class — which brings us to its true marketplace rivals, the Big Drei.

Against them, there is absolutely no contest. A Mercedes-Benz A220 has only 188 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque while costing nearly $4,000 more ($6,000 with AWD). The Audi A3 delivers just 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and costs an eye-watering $7,600 more. The BMW 228i xDrive has the same specs as the Audi and costs nearly $8,600 more. Plus, the Mazda will run circles around these cars in terms of driver engagement. Sadly, these will probably all outsell the Mazda because of the badge.

The Mazda’s $29,900 base price nets you the sedan, while a turbo hatch will cost you $1,000 more. All are available with optional 18-inch BBS wheels, a front air dam, side skirts, and rear diffuser. Additionally, the hatch can be optioned with a roof spoiler. We’d probably forgo these aero bits, which end up costing a little over $2,500.

The launch video sums up Mazda’s car-building philosophy nicely. To the untrained ear, it sounds like a bunch of marketing mumbo jumbo because, frankly, every automaker spews similar pick-up lines. But for Mazda, statements like, “For every vehicle we put on the road, if it is going to be called a Mazda, it must make you feel something you can’t feel in any other car,” are actually true. We’re just glad there’s one company that still speaks to those who enjoy driving. There’s some great footage of the Mazda North America basement and cars like the Cosmo Sport and 767B as well.

The Mazda 3 Turbo is scheduled to go on sale later this year.

Images courtesy of Mazda.

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18 Responses to NEWS: 2021 Mazda 3 Turbo will destroy all comers with a $29,900 base price

  1. Shiro said:

    I am definitely considering this for a replacement to my WRX. I have a Mazda 3, which handles great and gets great mileage, but I’ve always complained that it’s “gutless”; this would sure fix that!

  2. harshith said:

    finally turbo! when they said turbo they should have make a turbo spool and BOV sound. and FWD or AWD burnout launch.

  3. Chris said:

    As a current 2016 Mazda 3 owner, once again I’m disappointed. I don’t have a problem with pricing it at roughly $35k, but the slow infotainment system, lack of FIRS, and what will be sub-par performance in the price range. For $34k, after dealer discounts, you can pick up a Kia Stinger hatch that does 0-60 in 4.6 seconds, has 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque.

    Why does Hyundai seem to “get” it, while Mazda doesn’t? I am hoping the 2022 Mazda 6 changes things.

    • Tofu Delivery said:

      where did you get $35k from? it’s $30k if you don’t get the premium package. the 2019+ infotainment systems are pretty nice too.

      • speedie said:

        For $29,900 the Mazda3 AWD Turbo comes standard with what is essentially the Premium package. The lowest priced Stinger with AWD is the GT Line at $34,085 and it is equipped with a 2.0 liter turbo at 255 hp. Lowest priced Stinger with the 365 hp V6 is the GT1 line and starts at $45,400. Add AWD and the price jumps to $47,600.

  4. long beach mike said:

    I don’t think people looking for turbo spool and BOV sounds and tire shredding launches are the target market for this car. But I’m betting a few bucks spent in what should be a vigorous aftermarket will get you there.

  5. j_c said:

    While I love the 767B in the ad, why not show their current RT24-P race car?
    They’re racing with a turbo 4 to promote their street cars, and it’s a pretty thing.

    • speedie said:

      I agree the RT24-P would be a better choice and it is indeed a pretty thing. Perhaps its Mazda’s way of trying to keep, at least the memory of, the rotary alive.

  6. Mark F Newton-John said:

    Hmmm. You left out a perennial best seller, Mustang.
    Base $26,670 with *310* HP out of a turbo 2.3.
    50 hp more and over $3,000 less.
    Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that Mazda had something north of 200hp, but if you want to play the numbers game, couch racers, you’d better have better numbers.
    Now y’all realize this is more than the 86/BRZ, yet the Mazda 3 turbo still screams “econobox appliance”. But maybe that’s the point. A go-fasr Q-ship.

    • long beach mike said:

      The Mustang is a bargain. More torque than the Mazda as well. But when you sit inside, the Mustang screams “We saved a bunch of money in here” while the Mazda speaks in a low announcer’s voice “Isn’t this nicer than the last A class you sat in?” Inside or out, the Mazda 3 in nice trim is anything but an econobox appliance.

  7. Mark F Newton-John said:

    The 767B reference is starting to get really old.
    “What have you done for me late-ly…” said Janet Jackson.
    It’s like UNLV still bragging about the ONE NCAA title they won… THIRTY EFFIN’ YEARS AGO…

  8. Negishi no Keibajo said:

    This will be the bar. Veloster? Nope. Got to drive one for few days. Doesn’t even compare with an old three I drove.

  9. CobaltFire said:

    I think the bench racers comparing this to various sports cars are missing the point of this car. This is a swing at the young professionals with kids market, not the young singles market. The criteria in those markets aren’t as aligned as they would look at first glance.

    As a Dad with two young children, this isn’t even on the same page as a Mustang or the like. I realistically cannot consider a 2+2 since the second car must act as a family vehicle in some situations. Further, as I get older I do enjoy the nicer ambience of a quality car.

    This makes for an excellent B car to the family A car, regardless of who drives it. My last B car was a Yaris iA sedan, and the few times we had to employ it for family duties (GX in the shop) it did the job, but stepping up to a 3 would have been welcome and we determined that would be what we did next time. Adding AWD and turbo just makes it a fun option in a world of fairly souless appliances.

    Regarding the comparison to the Stinger, that’s a tough one. I’d have to drive each, but a $5,000 difference after incentives isn’t insignificant in a market like this; it’s an almost 20% increase in price, which is usually enough that they don’t get cross shopped.

    • speedie said:

      You are spot on. This car is squarely aimed at the young family who wants a sporty car that can haul them and their luggage around in comfort. See my earlier comment about the Stinger comparison. Comparably equipped the Stinger Turbo AWD with a 255 hp 2.0 L is actually $4,000 more. If the Stinger is being so heavily discounted then perhaps the argument should be whether there is even a market for this type of car not who its competitors are.

  10. dankan said:

    This is a proper sports sedan, not a sports car. And it’s the better for it. Definitely a left-field choice because of the Mazda dealer network’s constraints, but also a car that will get noticed in a positive way every time. Unlike the WRX or Veloster.

  11. Definitely not Alf said:

    BOLD PREDICTIONS:

    This will STILL be overpriced for the people who would be most interested!

    It will NOT win the enthusiast shopper’s hearts over a used car that’s a decade (or more) older!

    Mazda WILL let it die on the vine without upgrades to keep it competitive due to the aforementioned “lack of interest”.

    We WILL bemoan them for cancelling it.

    REPEAT.

    Last comment…probably EVER. Obviously, I’m bored to tears.

  12. Chris R said:

    I’m 60, have owned several Mustangs, one GT that i modded to 480 hp. I got that out of my system about 10 years ago and want something that has some boost, ample acceleration, tight handling, a hatch (I play guitar and need to load amps) and a certain mature, “refined” character. All while staying in the $30K sweet spot. Everything I have read about the Mazda 3 Turbo tells me this is the perfect “fun-factor” combination for me. Enough so I am putting a pre-release deposit on one (Premium trim, white/red interior), estimated delivery late November/early December. BTW, my older brother has a KIA Stinger and it *rocks*. But a little too rich for my wallet.

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