Coming at you: the 2021 Mazda3 gets a big performance bump with the addition of the SkyActiv-G 2.5T engine.

Mazda has a history of delivering eye-popping styling, and it certainly scored with the latest-generation Mazda3 Hatchback and Sedan models that nabbed honors as World Car Design of the Year – but now, the Japanese automaker is giving potential buyers a reason to look twice at the Mazda3.

With the addition of the new SkyActiv-G 2.5T engine, the Mazda3 gets a significant bump in performance, the automaker announced today, the turbo package bumping things up to 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque.

Buyers will continue to have two other powertrain alternatives, the naturally aspirated SkyActiv-G 2.0 and SkyActiv-G 2.5 packages carried over from the 2021 Mazda3 line.

(First Drive: 2020 Mazda6 Signature Edition.)

“Mazda has long been one of the companies that seems to have the right touch for building successful small cars that earn loyal fans and critical praise,” TheDetroitBureau.com’s Joe Szczesny wrote in a review of the Mazda3 last year.

But while the car’s design and overall manners may score well, the relatively modest power offered by the prior powertrain options came in for some scrutiny.

Meanwhile, the overall slide in small car sales as millions of American motorists switch from passenger cars to SUVs and CUVs has been hastened during the coronavirus pandemic. Mazda clearly needs some help in propping up the Mazda3 line – and could get it in the form of the new turbo engine.

The SkyActiv turbo requires premium but still makes an impressive boost if running on regular.

The SkyActiv-G 2.5T clearly delivers a significant bump, adding another 64 hp and 134 lb-ft to the numbers served up by the naturally aspirated SkyActiv-G 2.5 powertrain.

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As might seem obvious, the turbo option will now be offered as part of the premium trim package for the 2021 Mazda3.

That will include niceties such as a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, a power moonroof, dual-zone climate control and heated front seats. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be standard, while buyers will get a free, three-year subscription to Mazda Connected Services, as well as a six-month trial of the in-car WiFi system. An 8-inch center display also is standard.

Safety features will include the i-Activesense advanced driver assistance package with active cruise control, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and more.

Pricing hasn’t been announced for Mazda3 models with the SkyActiv-G 2.5T but one can expect a definite premium over the existing packages – which start at $21,500 before tacking on delivery fees.

The new engine will also run up operating costs, however, requiring premium fuel to reach its rated power levels. On regular unleaded, the SkyActiv-G 2.5T will make a still impressive 227 hp and 310 lb-ft, however.

(Mazda has done better than expected during the pandemic-fueled auto sales slowdown.)

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