Anybody curious about the discrepancy between the horsepower and torque figures from the leaked specs of the new Mazda 3 Turbo now has an answer: If you fill it up with the right gas, it’ll boost up to 250 horsepower. That makes it not only a bargain but very competitive in the hot hatch market.
With 87 octane gasoline, the new 2.5-liter turbocharged Mazda 3 will make up to 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. If you fuel up with 93 octane though, the same engine can put out up to 250 HP and 320 lb-ft of torque—about a dozen horses shy of the original Mazdaspeed 3.
The turbo 3 will only be available with all-wheel drive and six-speed automatic transmission, which is a bit of a bummer. While the “Turbo” will be its own trim in the lineup, it essentially will come with the same equipment as the current “Premium Package.”
The mysterious “PP” option from the leaked dealer guide we published a few months back did, in fact, turn out to be a “Premium Plus” option, which adds full leather seating, Traffic Jam Assist, a 360-degree camera, and automatic reverse-braking on top of the regular Turbo trim.
Cosmetically, the regular Turbo trim gets its own “Turbo” badge and gloss black mirrors, and the Premium Plus option adds a black lip spoiler on Turbo sedans or a front air dam and roof spoiler on the hatch.
Let’s see how the new Turbo stacks up:
- Power: Turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder with 180 HP and 177 lb-ft of torque.
- Price: $28,150
- Equipment: Six-speed manual or CVT, front-wheel drive standard.
- MPG: 29 / 37 / 32
- Power: Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 250 HP and 260 lb-ft of torque.
- Price: $27,600
- Equipment: Six-speed manual standard, front-wheel drive standard.
- MPG: 22 / 25 / 29
- Power: Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four with 241 HP and 273 lb-ft of torque.
- Price: $29,000+ (At the Mk. 8's reveal, VW said to expect a slight price increase over the current GTI, which starts at $28,595.)
- Equipment: Six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic, standard front-wheel drive.
- MPG: Fuel economy will be announced later, but the outgoing GTI currently gets 24 / 27 / 32
- Power: Turbocharged 1.6-liter 3-cylinder with 269 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque.
- Price: The car starts at £29,995 in the European market and isn’t sold in the U.S., but if it was, it’d likely be priced around $30,000.
- Equipment: Six-speed manual, standard all-wheel drive.
- MPG: To be announced, and frankly who knows!
- Power: Turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 250 HP and 320 lb-ft of torque.
- Price: The current naturally-aspirated Premium Mazda 3 hatch with all-wheel drive starts at $28,900, so let’s just assume the Turbo will start at $30,000 or higher. Pricing will be announced later this year.
- Equipment: Six-speed automatic-only, all-wheel drive standard.
- MPG: This same engine in the Mazda 6 sedan returned 26 / 23 / 31 , so we’ll guess around there.
It was pretty obvious coming into this light comparison that the Mazda 3 Turbo was going to need enough extra to make up for not being available with a manual, competing with some real heavyweights both old and new.
With regard to the Civic, I priced it as close as I could to the Turbo without going full $37,000 Type R, which I don’t think will be Mazda 3 money, ever. At least hopefully. However, while the Type R has over 50 more horsepower, it has less torque than the Mazda 3 Turbo running even 87 octane.
I didn’t do the Civic SI, which has 205 HP and 192 lb-ft of torque and starts at $25,200, because it’s not a hatchback!
Unless you’re obsessed with fuel economy, compared to the rest of the pack, the Civic is toast. I like that it comes with a manual, and I like that it’s a Honda. But it’s not even pretty to look at, and to be the slowest on top of that? Looks like Honda has a hole in their Civic lineup now.
The Veloster and GTI are impossible to overlook. They beat the Mazda 3 Turbo at saving the manuals, and the new GTI has more power, but the Mazda has two aces up its sleeves. One is all-wheel drive, and the other is torque.
There’s a reason this exciting new Turbo trim is packaged with premium options. It’s the same reason the manual on the naturally-aspirated Mazda 3 is also bundled higher than the base model. While the market demands features like all-wheel drive, the features are also more expensive.
To make the car feel worth its weight, so to speak, and to minimize manufacturing complexity for a smaller automaker like Mazda, it’s better to bundle performance upgrades, like a manual transmission or all-wheel drive, in with luxury items, and increase the margin on each car sold. At least that’s what the guys in suits with millions seem to think. Literally the price we pay for “enthusiast” stuff.
Depending on the final price, an all-wheel drive Mazda 3 with just as much power as the front-wheel-drive-only Veloster and GTI should carve itself a comfortable corner in the hot hatch market.
On top of that, the new Mazda 3 Turbo also puts down way, way more torque than either of those two would-be frontrunners. If that can translate to the driving experience, the new Mazda may hurt some feelings.
The only real competition I think the Mazda has to worry about is another hatchback with all-wheel drive, similar power, at the same price point—obviously. While that may have been the Ford Focus ST in another life, Ford kicked that car out of the country. However, Toyota has teased a GR-tuned performance Corolla is coming.
If it’s anything like those Yaris GR specs I listed up there—and the reports claim it is—Mazda’s going to have to lean harder on its premium and luxury propositions to keep the Turbo competitive. I can’t wait to drive every single car I just mentioned, regardless of which the calculus rules is best.