By on July 7, 2020

2019 Mazda 3 sedan - Image: Mazda

Mazda fans wanted more power, and that wish will soon be granted. As we learned via dealership codes last month, the 2021 Mazda 3 will give buyers the option of boosting their car’s output via a new turbocharged engine.

As this month is all about vehicle debuts, there isn’t long to wait before the newly potent 3 gets its own public unveiling. And thanks to a Mexican ad, the model’s power levels are already no longer a mystery.

Spotted by Road & Track, the ad uploaded to YouTube by Mazda México details the North American-market entry for 2021. Joining the existing 2.5-liter four-cylinder for the coming model year is a turbocharged variant of said engine found in the CX-5 compact crossover and 6 sedan.

An uplevel offering, the engine’s output doesn’t surprise. Making a familiar 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, the engine bound for the compact sedan and hatch will arrive with standard all-wheel drive in tow, as well as a six-speed automatic. The ad seems to confirm what the dealership model codes already did, which is that there’ll be no six-speed manual with which to manage that newfound power. Bummer for those people who’d be willing to order a manual version of an uplevel mainstream car, however few they may be.

It seems buyers of the 2.5T will enjoy standard blacked-out 18-inch wheels, which comes as no surprise, as all but the very base 2020 models come with some form of 18-inch hoops.

What’s left to learn is exactly how pricey this upgrade will be. It would be in Mazda’s best interests to make the turbo engine available to as many would-be buyers as possible, not just buyers of the top-flight premium package.

Indeed, Mazda needs some way of arresting the 3’s downward slide in the U.S. market. After seeing volume plunge in 2019 despite the model’s new sheet metal and available AWD, Mazda messed around with  content and pricing for 2020, only to be hit with a pandemic — during which compact mainstream cars suffered more than any other segment. Sales of the 3 fell 46.6 percent, year over year, in the first quarter of 2020.

While a slow recovery commenced after March and April’s carnage, Mazda’s June sales figures show the 3 down 18.5 percent, year over bad year.

[Image: Mazda]

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39 Comments on “Newly Potent Mazda 3’s Power Specs Revealed...”


  • avatar
    thornmark

    not a ‘premium’ car charging premium prices

    seems like a recipe for success

    I wonder if Mazda hired some of Cadillac’s old marketing wizards

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Yep, this option won’t be free. It’ll push the car’s price into the high 30s, with very few takers.

      At that price point, the competition is fierce.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        High 30s? I doubt it. A fully loaded 3 with AWD is $29,000. Figure another three or four grand for the hotter engine. Call it $34,000 for argument’s sake.

        Net result? A good-looking $34,000 compact performance sedan with a VERY nice interior, AWD and all the toys. Anything comparably equipped from Mercedes, BMW or Audi is going to be about ten grand more. Heck, a loaded GTI or Jetta GLI is going to be about the same money, and neither has AWD, which is a definite selling point anywhere winters suck.

        Sell it as a far cheaper competitor to the Mercedes A-class, Audi A3, BMW 2-Gran-Kinda-Sorta-Coupe-Whatever.

        I don’t think it’d light the sales charts on fire, but it’s something new for the brand, and they might just steal some sales from Ze Germans. I own an A3, and if the performance is there, I’d take a hard look at this car come trade-in time.

        • 0 avatar
          deanst

          Trying to sell a “luxury car” on the basis of price is rarely a winning idea.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            It can be, if the car’s good. Example: Lexus LS400.

            Not saying this Mazda is going to be that good, but my point is this: if you’re trying to become a premium brand (which Mazda is), and you have no cred at it (which Mazda doesn’t), selling on price makes sense, particularly in this economy. To a lot of buyers, a $43,000 Mercedes A-class or Audi A3 is going to look awfully frivolous when you can basically have the same performance, good looks, a very nice interior, AWD, and similar equipment for ten grand less.

            (And that’s not even taking into consideration how stupid-expensive it is to just roll an A-class or A3 into the dealer for regularly scheduled service.)

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            FreedMike gets it. Unfortunately not enough consumers do.

            If I can get a car that is like an Audi, BMW, or MB with a $10K discount I’m going to pounce on it. Its the reason I like Genesis so much.

            Lucky for me I don’t hang out in circles where anybody gives a dang about the badge on my car.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        High 30s? I’m moving forth with a Golf R.

        Right at $30K? I’m cross shopping it against a GTI.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      Thornmark

      Car sales are falling. Mazda’s assembly plants are half empty. Mazda waisting money on its cars, and building a new plant in Huntsville AL.
      That’s a “We just bombed Pearl Hatbor” type of stupid
      -Or-
      a “We just imprisoned the only guy who knew how to run Nissan” type of stupid.
      -or maybe a-
      “We will no longer build the RAV4 Prime because demand is too high” type of stupid.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I believe Huntsville Assembly is a Toyota run deal. They are going to build some joint Mazda product there but the specific product has changed on at least one occasion so I don’t know for sure now.

        it’s an area of the country that makes sense though if you are building cars. You get Alabama type low cost of living but the schools in Huntsville, especially on the plant’s side of town are good. It’s an educated town thanks to all of the stuff happening on Redstone Arsenal.

        • 0 avatar
          Peter Gazis

          Art Vandelay

          Toyota is not going to build Mazda a plant for free, and Mazda already has too much manufacturing capacity.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Well no…It is also going to build Toyotas. Hence the giant TOYOTA sign out in front of it. Whatever it builds, Mazda is going to market a car on the same platform. Like NUMMI turning out Toyotas and Pontiacs.

            i’m not sure where their current plants are, but it could be that they are planning on shuttering another plant in a higher cost area.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Even today, I see more 2010-2013 models running around than anything 2014-*
    May be Mazda should start remaking 2010 model

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I know y’all gonna rip on Mazda for no manual but those power levels with standard AWD and roughly 3,200 lb curb weight? Fill that sucker up with premium…

    Yee haw!

    (For the record that’s roughly 800 lbs lighter than my TourX which does 0-60 in under 7 sec and quarter in less than 15 sec.)

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Agreed! With that curb weight, horsepower, and AWD, the performance should be right in line with my A3 – not M3 quick, but certainly quick enough to get into all kinds of trouble.

      If they keep the loaded-up price on this in the low-30s, that’s loaded GTI/WRX money, and ten grand less than something comparably equipped from Audi, BMW or Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      Yessir, it’ll no doubt scoot just fine. My Mazda6 turbo which I’ve fed only premium since I got it, hauls the car around as if it were a toy. Had a decent blast today again, the engine just eggs you on. Nicest turbo I’ve owned, and I’ve had three before. The constant feeling you get is: Why does everyone else drive so slow and get in my way even when I’m just cruising? Filled it up, 36.7l for 404 klicks, which is 26 mpg US. And I don’t spare it, a second gear blast from 10 mph to 80K (50 mph) in about three seconds leaves the coughers behind and just feels SO good. Gas is cheap enough, who cares? The engine is the dominant experience of the car, followed by the neat-shifting manumatic transmission with instant shifts to almost replace a manual and the great steering, then the nice interior. All it really needs is AWD because when you goose it, well, I’m 17 all over again with the tire howl. Hee haw! And I’m almost 73 years old in fact. Why buy a boring load of old rubbish?

      No doubt someone who doesn’t own one will tell me the engine has no pull over 4000 rpm, and pull some other nonsense like lag they read on the net out of their left ear, to which I can only say — BS. Owning a car is far different from the small peak you get on a test drive, because you learn how it works best. And I enjoyed my three test drives. The weakest feature is the lurchy at times IRS – you have to watch that on cracked pavement bumps on corners when having a bit of a go.

      I will have to try out the Mazda3 turbo – if they have any sense, and they don’t, they’d have a sedan edition because the hatchback styling sure hasn’t grown on me or scarcely anyone else it seems. In Canada to the top $33K price of a 3 hatch, I’d add $2000 for AWD and $2000 for the turbo, because those are the adders for the CX-5. $37K or $28K US. Now what Mazda will try to flog ’em for in the US, who knows? Spare me the Golf R — I can’t even get out of the damn thing with its rubbish seating behind the A-pillar, and VW reliability versus Mazda? Who needs FGC grief? Not me.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    There’s nothing “familiar” about a turbocharged 2.5 liter engine that is rated at 227 HP. I think “underwhelming” is a more appropriate adjective, given that there are any number of 2 liter turbo engines that are rated at around 250 HP, including the motor in my 18-year old Saab, which did so without tricks like GDI and VVT.

    I suspect it’s because this engine is RPM-limited to a fairly low speed. It’s pretty hard to make a 4 cylinder of this displacement that isn’t rough as a corncob, even with balance shafts and all that.

    Seems like half a “zoom” to me.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Premium fuel gooses the hp to 250.

      The torque is the real story – I’m so sick of weak sauce naturally aspirated V6s that can’t even muster 300 lb ft and then do it at silly high RPM.

      • 0 avatar
        Kendahl

        It does seem like Mazda optimized for torque rather than power. Compared to the normally aspirated engine, torque is up 67% while power is up only 22%. Compared to my old Infiniti G37S, which isn’t slow, the 2.5T has 15% more torque to accelerate 10% less weight.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      I think this engine is plenty powerful for the 3, even with AWD. However, as Bruce said, the size doesn’t lend itself to smoothness. However, it should still be fairly fun to ride that huge torque curve in a compact car … even if a 2.0T would feel more sprightly.

      I had a Thunderbird SC with a supercharged 3.8L V6, which has almost the same displacement per cylinder as this 2.5L I4. The Ford V6 didn’t even have a balance shaft in RWD applications at that time, so it had some roughness at certain RPM points. Still, when it was pulling in gear, the torque came on smoothly and it never struggled to move that big car. This Mazda I4 has almost as much torque as that V6 did, and more HP. It should move all right.

      I guess that development and certification costs prohibit Mazda getting another engine size ready for this vehicle. The sharing of the turbo engine with the larger cars is a great efficiency, but it would be nice if there was a more tailored engine for the 3. (And the Miata, while we are at it!)

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Will we be seeing this engine in the CX-30 as well then?

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    Well, it’s worked on me.

    If it isn’t a total disaster on the test drive, I’ll probably be trading in the CX-3 for a new one.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick Astley

      You’ll really like this motor in the 3.

      I’ve owned a 6 (GT-Reserve) for the past 1.5 years, and as you said above, you drive with torque. It has more than enough passing power and can be a hoot on the onramps. The car was genuinely fun at a lapping day with the Alpha Romeo club of the NW, but the SUV tires put on as stock are an odd choice due to how terrible they are in all-seasons.

      The real-world MPG, however, is nowhere near the 23/31 split claimed. When not in sport mode and letting the auto keep you 1-too-high-of-gear (as it’s tuned to do), i’d be lucky to get 20 in the city, and i’ve not had a single tank of fuel, regardless of driving style or environment that gets over 28 mpg. That has proven very consistent regardless of the octane rating you put in, but obviously the extra HP are felt (not as much as you would hope) when you run premium. (14,0xx miles on the car currently)

      Overall I thoroughly enjoy the 6 GT and the motor has been flawless. The transmission, while AT, is fun enough when needed and compliant in real-world traffic. When the lease is up I won’t be buying the car (Soul Red is beautiful, but it doesn’t hold up well at all, materials alone will be 200% more expensive than standard paint) and am keeping an eye out at the full-sized sedan market. The 2021 Acura TLX seems appealing, or the rwd 6 rumored in 2022.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      CX3 is crampo. Anything is better. You can’t even seat in the rear of cx3. They could just make it a cargo with 2 seats

  • avatar
    ajla

    Having driven the Mazda6 turbo I would consider its power “adequate” not “performance”. I expect I’ll feel the same way about this Mazda3. So it’ll be fine but not a Mazdaspeed revival.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This time next year we’ll be reading a story about how Mazda is mystified that this drivetrain option didn’t revive 3 sales or market share.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      That is exactly right. Small and expensive isn’t a formula that has been working in recent years. The Mazda 3 isn’t really a cheap car to begin with even sans the turbo upgrade. I believe this engine was really developed for the CX-9 and is tuned for low RPM grunt intended to pull around a lot of 3 row crossover weight. It is not particularly well suited for smaller lighter vehicles. I am sort of shocked that Mazda hasn’t messed with the tuning at all as it transplants this engine into its smaller vehicles.

      I am glad they are offering it, but the engine upgrades for most vehicles of this type have a pretty low take rate. I recall reading that Camry and Accord have something like 15% take rate for the engine upgrades. So maybe they wont be mystified when it doesnt boost sales and it could really be intended as a simple exercise in “hey we got it, it fits, why not?”

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I don’t think it’ll revive the model’s sales, but it will raise the transaction price, making it more profitable, and it may bring a different kind of buyer into their showrooms.

      Let’s face it – the compact car wars are done, and Toyota and Honda (and possibly H/K) won. The only choice for Mazda is to either pull out (which I’m guessing isn’t an option for a car that’s in its’ second model year), or refocus on a different market segment, like VW did with the GTI.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Mazda lost its customer base with this one

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Too bad it is standard AWD. I know it is the trendy thing these days, but it isn’t needed the majority of the time.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Actually, I’d say AWD offers a performance advantage in small, high-powered cars: practically zero wheelspin. Example: in a quick launch, a GTI, which is FWD, will spin its’ wheels. An AWD Audi A3, which has the same engine AND weighs more, will beat any GTI to 60 every time. Why? AWD and launch control system. It just digs in and goes…zero drama.

      Same for the WRX and Mitsu Evo.

      As far as winter driving is concerned, I used to pooh-pooh people for insisting on AWD, until I bought a car that has it. You don’t NEED it, but it’s definitely nice.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        AWD can help off the line but the extra weight and driveline loss slows things down both from a roll and as speeds go over 60.

        caranddriver.com/reviews/
        a15089089/2017-audi-a3-20t-quattro-test-review/

        caranddriver.com/reviews/
        a15107671/2015-volkswagen-gti-dsg-automatic-test-review/

        YMMV, but personally, those times are close enough across every metric to be a wash. However, AWD likely will give a benefit from quelling torque steer and adding some snowy weather traction.

        • 0 avatar
          Daniel J

          What’s more telling about the AWD: Most magazines report faster 0-60 times for the AWD CX-5 than the Mazda 6. Both are similar weight. As having both in the family, the CX-5 is quicker.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        As I said, you don’t really need it the majority of the time. It is just extra weight and complexity that drags fuel economy down for all those drives where there isn’t 6″ of snow on the ground or you are doing full bore standing starts.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    If Mazda put this engine in the CX-30, they could revive the Mazdaspeed name and get some legacy MS owners in the showroom, along with those wanting something bigger than a GTI but with some fun.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Don’t jump too high. I’ve done my sitting in this. I think, Mazda3 rear seat is slightly more tilted and hence more comfortable that cx30. I don’t know if GTI is smaller.

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