The 250-hp 2021 Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo may pull at our enthusiast heartstrings—or simply woo 3 buyers looking for more oomph—but the compact model’s newly available, entry-level 155-hp four-cylinder engine is likely to tug at some wallets. Cost-conscious small-car consumers, rejoice. The Mazda 3 once again welcomes a 2.0-liter engine under its hood after doing away with the powertrain following the 2018 model year.
Limited to the sedan body style, the resurrected (and aptly named) 2.0 trim trades the 186-hp 2.5-liter four-pot of the 2.5S model for less grunt and a surely lower starting price. What the cost of entry for the model comes out to remains under wraps, though we expect the forthcoming 2.0 sedan to undercut today’s entry-level 3, which rings in at $22,445, by a few hundred dollars, thus bringing the 3’s base price more in line with competitors such as the Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, and Hyundai Elantra.
Despite its bottom-of-the-totem pole position, the 3 2.0 still comes well equipped and packs niceties such as LED headlights and taillights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, an 8.8-inch infotainment screen, adaptive cruise control, low-speed automatic front braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and automatic high-beam headlights. Notably missing, however, is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. To add those features, buyers will have to jump up to the more powerful 2.5S trim, which also opens the door to other comfort and convenience items such as all-wheel-drive, a blind-spot monitoring system, a proximity key, dual-zone automatic climate control, and faux leather seats.
Want to row your own gears? Then you’ll have to spend the coin to add the high-end Premium package to a front-wheel-drive hatchback. Along with its available six-speed stick, the Premium package nets an in-dash navigation system, 12-speaker Bose audio system, head-up display, leather seating surfaces, and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters on automatic transmission-equipped models.
Regardless of what’s under its hood, the 2021 Mazda 3 hits dealers this fall. It’s up to you to decide if your heart pulls you to the 2.5 Turbo or your finances dictate you step into the 2.0 sedan.