There aren't many things I could suggest that would have made the Mazda 3 a better sedan for 2021. An extra 64 horsepower and all-wheel drive? Would that even have occurred to me?
The good news is that it occurred to Mazda. The 3, already a ball to drive with 186 horsepower from a 2.5-liter four and front-wheel drive is transformed by a turbo, 250 horsepower (on premium fuel---run regular and it's 227) and all-wheel drive.
The all-wheel drive makes handling, already a strong suit in most Mazdas, even better. The 2021 Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo AWD is like having a four-door Miata.
Horsepower is not the only story with the turbo, though. Torque leaps from 186 pounds per foot to 310. The 3, never a slouch, now has that seemingly bottomless low-end torque that you'll find in European sport sedans. Zero to 60 times fall from low-sevens with the regular Mazda 3 to a flat 6 seconds.
But, as Carroll Shelby used to say, speed costs money. The last Mazda 3 four-door we tested (a 2019 top-of-the-line model, also with all wheel drive) had a base price of $27,900. The 2021 Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo AWD with the Premium Plus package (the new top rung) starts at $32,450.
The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights for that price are 18-inch black alloy wheels, adaptive front lighting, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, radar cruise control with stop and go, rain-sensing wipers, navigation and a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system.
The only extra-cost option on our tester was the Machine Gray Metallic paint ($495). So, with $945 delivery processing and handling fee, the as-tested price of the 2021 Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo AWD is $33,980.
And, as with most things, that price is all in how you look at it. Yes, it's considerably more than the normally-aspirated version of the same car. But it's very little money for a car of its performance capabilities. I'd take the latter view. The 2021 Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo AWD is a screaming bargain of a sport sedan.