Mazda has decided to move their products up another level so that to compare with entry level luxury brands.
Here is the 2021 Mazda3 Sport 100th Anniversary Edition. When the first Mazda3 came to the market, it was a massive hit in both hatchback and sedan form. Replacing the wildly popular Protege was no easy task but the Mazda3 had a punchy engine, European styling and driving dynamics that made rivals look and feel absolutely dowdy by comparison. Needless to say, Canadian’s couldn’t get enough and became a top seller. Mazda turned it up a notch with the Mazdaspeed3 for those that needed that extra kick.
Unfortunately, the Mazdaspeed3 was short lived and only managed to make it through to the second generation Mazda3. With the current Mazda3, Mazda finally relented and stuffed a turbo under the hood and with the company celebrating 100 years of existence, we had the chance to jump behind the wheel of a special anniversary edition.
Instead of competing against the Hondas and Toyotas of the world, Mazda has decided to move their products up another level so that to compare with entry level luxury brands. No longer satisfied with the Mazda3 being tuned with blow off valves and loud exhausts, Mazda has decided they now want to compete with the likes of the Audi A3, BMW 2-series and Mercedes A-Class.
Luckily, if you wish to own a Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition in sedan or hatchback, Mazda has you covered. Either body style can be had as long as you are happy with the red interior and Snowflake White Pearl paint work. Those looking for any other exterior color will have to opt out of the Anniversary Edition.
During my week, I did receive some feedback regarding the exterior. While I do think it’s one of the more attractive compacts in the segment, others were not so kind. After spending a few days looking at it, we did notice some design cues that should be mentioned. When parked side by side with the first generation Mazda3, it is quite apparent that the windows are much smaller, which leads to an awkward side profile. The smallish rear window also adds to the large C-pillars that create large blind spots.
With the most current iteration of the Kodo design language, the 2021 Mazda3 embraces its Japanese heritage wholeheartedly. The 100th Anniversary logo can be found on the black wheel centre caps and special badging is placed on the front fenders.
Interior wise, the Mazda3 is impressive and punches above its class. Soft touch materials are used throughout. Some Japanese luxury brands can learn a thing or two from Mazda in terms of execution and design. However, the infotainment’s user interface still leaves much to be desired. Ease of use is lacking, especially when going through the various menus and apps. This is the only aspect that ruins an otherwise perfect interior.
The Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition carries over the same interior design cues found in the limited edition CX-9, CX-5 and MX-5 models. Red covers the seats and carpet. Splashes of white add contrast to the dashboard and door panels. The 100th Anniversary logo can be found embroidered on the front headrests; a classy touch.
The highlight of the 100th Anniversary Edition truly lies under the hood. While the 2.5 Litre Turbo 4 could easily be considered the evolution of the 2.3-liter turbocharged four found in the Mazdaspeed3, Mazda is hesitant to even mention this storied hot hatch when talking about the current model. Where the previous turbo made sure to let people know what was under the hood, the latest evolution is refined and mature.
Vibrations are controlled and muted. Peak torque is available at 2,500RPM so that wringing out the engine to get to speed is not required. 320 lb-ft. of torque is on tap along with 250 horsepower when using premium fuel. Choose to fill up with lower octane and power will drop to 227 horsepower, but the torque figure remains the same.
Unlike the Mazdaspeed that slapped drivers with loads of torque steer due to power going through the front wheels, turbocharged models of the Mazda3 add all-wheel-drive as standard equipment. Stomp on the gas pedal and this Mazda3 will move with authority and very little drama. If you want some excitement in your commute, look at the Hyundai Veloster N which has pops and bangs that you will either love or hate.
Sadly, a manual transmission is not offered with the turbocharged engine. It gets a six-speed automatic transmission that is well tuned with this engine and is fairly refined. However, spending time behind the wheel we have come to the realization that with some improved gearing or an extra cog or two, this could be much better. Fuel economy in the city is rated at 10.1L/100km and highway at 7.5L/100km. During our week of heavy city driving and a lead foot, we achieved a reasonable 10.3L/100km.
Entry into a Mazda3 Sport with the base engine and FWD will start at $23,481. Move up to the 100th Anniversary Edition we have here and Canadians will need to dig deep at $38,981. That is exactly a $15,000 premium so something to really ponder. At this price, it is literally a steal when compared to the likes of a Honda Civic Type R, Hyundai Veloster N or Volkswagen Golf R. While the power numbers are all over the place amongst these competitors, the Mazda3 Sport interior really builds its case as an upscale vehicle rather than a hot hatch.
Buyers looking for power, luxury and something unique should seriously consider the 2021 Mazda3 Sport 100th Anniversary Edition. Those not concerned about the badge placed on the hood will have strong case against entry level models made by BMW and Audi. It truly is a shame that most will overlook the Mazda3 and jump into the CX-30 with SUVs being all the rage.