Mazda announces numerous changes to the 2021 Mazda3 lineup, including a revised model and trim level, two new engines in addition to the existing 2.5L Skyactiv 4-cyl. and upgrades to its Mazda Connect infotainment and i-Activsense suite of driving aids.
Remaining available in 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback body styles, the ’21 Mazda3 now comes in 2.0, 2.5S and 2.5 Turbo models. Depending on the model, trim levels include standard, Select, Preferred, Premium and new Premium Plus.
The big news for ’21 arguably is the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo, available in standard and Premium Plus trim.
Fortified with the same turbocharged 2.5L 4-cyl. found in the Mazda6, CX-5 and CX-9, this version of the car makes 250 hp and 320 lb.-ft. (434 Nm) of torque when operated on 93-octane premium gas.
Choose 87-octane regular and power drops to 227 hp and 310 lb.-ft. (420 Nm), still respectable gains over the 2.5S. A standard 6-speed sport automatic feeds power to all four wheels through the standard AWD system.
Mazda previously offered this kind of power in a Mazda3. That turbocharged Mazdaspeed variant was front-wheel drive with a limited-slip differential and had a boost-reduction system designed to limit wheelspin in first and second gear.
Asked if the automaker is taking a similar approach with the new torque-rich Mazda3 2.5 Turbo, a spokesperson says: “We made numerous hardware and software changes to the (car) that help provide an ideal fit as well as smooth driving experience. Specific details of these changes (will be available) closer to the launch of the vehicle.”
The new-for-2021 Mazda3 2.0 is offered only as a sedan with standard trim. The Mazda3 2.5S comes in both body styles and in all trim flavors except for Premium Plus.
The Mazda3 2.0 is a lower-priced, entry-level version of the car equipped with a 2.0L 4-cyl., a 6-speed sport automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.
The engine makes 155 hp and 150 lb.-ft. (203 Nm) of torque, making it less powerful than the 2.5S by 31 hp and 36 lb.-ft. (49 Nm), but still competitive with other compact sedans. Mazda does not offer all-wheel drive in the Mazda3 2.0.
Continuing from last year with a new model designation, the Mazda3 2.5S features a 2.5L 4-cyl. generating 186 hp and 186 lb.-ft. (252 Nm) of torque.
A 6-speed sport automatic is standard, but Mazda does offer a 6-speed manual gearbox in the 5-door hatchback with Premium trim. Optional AWD gives the Mazda3 2.5S added traction.
Premium Plus is a new trim package for the ’21 Mazda3 and is exclusive to the 2.5 Turbo. For this model, it adds specific visual cues including a gloss-black lip spoiler for the sedan, a gloss-black roof spoiler for the hatchback and a unique front air dam. Inside, the 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus includes leather seats, a navigation system and a Homelink programmable garage door opener.
Exclusive to Premium Plus trim are three new i-Activsense driving-assistance technologies. They include a Traffic Jam Assist enhancement to the adaptive cruise control, which provides steering assistance at speeds below 40 mph (64 km/h). A high-definition surround-view camera is part of this package, as is automatic rear braking.
Mazda also offers a new 3-year free trial of its Mazda Connected Services technology, which is standard for all models. It includes a MyMazda smartphone app for remote access to vehicle data and functions as well as a no-cost 6-month/2GB trial of Wi-Fi connectivity.
A shuffling of trim package content removes the 12-speaker Bose Centerpoint premium sound system from 2.5S Preferred trim, making it exclusive to 2.5S Premium and 2.5 Turbo versions of the car.
The refreshed – and more powerful – ’21 Mazda3 arrives in showrooms this fall. Prices will be available closer to the car’s on-sale date.