Tested: 2021 Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition

Mazda is making a concerted effort to distance itself from the pack. It is equipping vehicles with interior style, premium materials, and driving dynamics a step above the competition.

 

Mazda has imbued its entire range of cars and crossovers with a distinctive appearance inside and out, class-leading content, and mechanicals that bring a smile to your face whether pressing a pedal or turning a wheel.

The Mazda3 competes in the toughest and largest car segment in the country.

This is where more Canadians shop when choosing a car than any other. Sales charts are dominated by Civic, Elantra, Corolla etc. But, in addition to the advantages mentioned above, none of them offer all-wheel-drive and 250 horsepower.

The frosting on this cake is the availability of the 100th Anniversary Edition of the Mazda3.

 

2021 Mazda3 100 Anniversary Edition

 

At $37,850 it sits at the high end of the price range in this segment. But even a brief glance has you thinking this could well be a less expensive alternative to vehicles wearing Audi, BMW, Lexus, or Mercedes badges.

The list of high-tech infotainment and driver-assistance features alone places this Mazda in a higher class.

 

This Mazda has it all – looks, content, performance and exclusivity.

Mazda was founded in 1920 under the name Toyo Kogyo. To mark this centennial, it is producing special trim treatments across the lineup for the 2021 model year.

 

100th Anniversary Edition models (Mazda Canada Inc.)

 

All feature a Snowflake White Pearl Mica exterior, and Garnet red interior colour scheme meant to reflect that of its first passenger car, the RS360 which had a white body and red top.

Special 100-anniversary logos are sprinkled throughout liberally from wheel centres to head restraints.

 

2021 Mazda3 100 anniversary edition badging

 

As befits this special position in the lineup, the 100th Anniversary Edition starts with the GT model. That means it comes with all the good stuff – 18-inch alloy wheels, 12-speaker Bose audio system, adaptive, automatic levelling LED headlights, heads-up display, leather upholstery, 10-way power driver’s seat with memory, heated seats and steering wheel, radar-based cruise control, navigation, power sunroof, dual zone automatic climate control and a full list of safety features.

 

2021 Mazda3 100 Anniversary Edition

 

Beyond the looks and features, this is a compact car with some serious dynamic credentials.

Let’s start with power and performance.

There is lots, thanks to a turbocharged and intercooled 2.5-litre engine. With 250 horsepower and 320 lb.ft. of torque (227/310 if you use regular fuel) on tap, this little sedan will scoot from rest to 100 km/h in less than six seconds – nothing in the class can touch that.

Hint – you are highly unlikely to notice the difference in performance between premium and regular fuel thanks to the minimal drop in torque.

 

2021 Mazda3 with all-wheel drive in Head of Chezzetcook, Nova Scotia

 

But it is more than pure all-out acceleration. At the slightest touch of the throttle, response is smooth, instantaneous and linear whether easing away from a light or exiting an on ramp. There is so much torque, available at barely off-idle, there is no need for more than six gears in the transmission, one area where the Mazda would otherwise lag behind the competition.

The predictive all-wheel-drive system utilizes an array of sensors that monitor everything from steering input and throttle position to individual wheel speed and G-forces acting on the car. The result is power to the wheels in need, as needed.

There is a refinement to the drivetrain, including the all-wheel-drive system, that you expect from a pricey luxury car, but appreciate even more at this price point.

Add to that the athleticism evident when you press a little into the turns combined with a composed, smooth ride, and the whole package comes together nicely.

In the gripe department, I experienced a failure of the adaptive cruise control system when road grime blocked the forward-looking sensors and the lens for the rear-view camera was similarly blinded in the same conditions. In fairness, this is not unusual, I experienced the same problems a week later in a $68,000 Cadillac.

This little beauty has it all – beauty, brawn, all-wheel-drive and exclusivity.

 

FACTS & FIGURES – 2021 Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition

 

PRICE

Base: $36,100

As tested: $37,850 including freight

 

INFOTAINMENT

22-cm wide colour display with Mazda Connect, HMI Commander, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 12-speaker Bose premium sound system with SiriusXM Traffic Plus and Travel Link® services with 5-year subscription, SiriusXM® Satellite Radio with 3-month trial subscription

 

SAFETY

Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go function, Smart Brake Support front and rear, Lane-keep Assist System, Lane Departure Warning System, automatic High Beams, Traffic Jam Assist, front and rear parking sensors

 

MECHANICAL

Turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder, 250-horsepower, 320 lb.ft. of torque – premium fuel; 227 horsepower, 310 lb.ft. of torque – regular fuel. Six-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive

 

DIMENSIONS

Length, 4,662-mm; wheelbase, 2,726-mm; weight, 1,523-kg

 

COMPETITION

Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla Volkswagen Golf OR Audi A4, BMW 2-series, Lexus IS, Mercedes-Benz A-Class

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