Is the Mazda3 Turbo fast enough against the world’s best performance compacts?

The fourth-generation Mazda3 looks hotter than its predecessor, but it’s also available with a selection of updated SkyActiv engines. But the really big news is the 2.5 Turbo trim, which features a beefed-up 2.5-liter four-cylinder that puts the Mazda3 into hot-hatchback territory. Much like the Mazdaspeed3 did more than 10 years ago. But is it powerful and fast enough to take on the market’s most popular performance compacts? The folks over at Throttle House hosted a three-way drag race to find out.

The 2021 Mazda3 Turbo Doesn't Back Down from the VW Golf R or Subaru WRX
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The Mazda3 Turbo was pitted against two of the most popular performance compacts out there: the Volkswagen Golf R and the Subaru WRX. Granted, the WRX is not a hatchback, but we’re not here to complain about body styles. On paper, the Mazda3 Turbo is the least powerful car. At 250 horsepower, it falls behind the Golf R by 38 horses and behind the Subaru by 18 horses.

However, the Mazda3 Turbo features the torquiest engine of the three.

At 320 pound-feet, it boasts an extra 40 pound-feet over the Golf R and a whopping 62 more than the WRX.

The 2021 Mazda3 Turbo Doesn't Back Down from the VW Golf R or Subaru WRX
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In typical Throttle House fashion, the three cars were pitted against each other in an old fashioned drag race. The Mazda3 takes the lead effortlessly thanks to a better launch, but the Golf R catches up in a few seconds and takes the lead. The WRX also catches up toward the end, but eventually finished just behind the Mazda.

The second test is a rolling sprint and again the Mazda3 takes off a bit quicker than the rest. The Golf R wins this race as well, while the Japanese hatch finishes in second place, well ahead of the Subaru WRX.

The 2021 Mazda3 Turbo Doesn't Back Down from the VW Golf R or Subaru WRX
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Granted, these tests aren’t very revealing, as performance hatchback aren’t just about off-the-line sprints, but it proves that the new Mazda3 Turbo is very competitive. It’s competitive enough to be a worthy successor of the cool Mazdaspeed3.

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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