Owner Review: 2021 Mazda3 Sport GT

Owner Review: 2021 Mazda3 Sport GT

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It’s all about threes. Late in 2021, when the Capitani family of the Ottawa area needed a third vehicle, they narrowed the field down to three very diverse choices.

“We looked at the Hyundai Kona, the Ford Maverick and the Mazda3 Sport,” Walter Capitani explains, noting they were interested in the utility benefits of having a small pickup like the Maverick and didn’t want a larger truck, but they couldn’t find a Maverick to buy.

Walter Capitani with his 2021 Mazda3 Sport GT.
Walter Capitani with his 2021 Mazda3 Sport GT. Photo by Walter Capitani

“I literally called every Ford dealer near here to try and find one,” Capitani explains. “When that failed, we looked seriously at the Hyundai Kona (compact SUV) but I’d read reports about the reliability of the clutch, and didn’t like what I heard.

“The Mazda3 Sport was the most attractive of the three, and there are many features of the car that are outstanding,” he continues.

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So, all about the threes, right? “We were able to find a Mazda3 Sport in a colour we liked, with the GT package, from Performance Mazda (in Orléans, Ontario) and we picked it up in November 2021,” he says.

Capitani paid close to $34,000 plus tax for the car in Machine Grey Metallic and he’s pleased with the purchase.

“We’re Italian-Canadian, and I always liked the look of the 1980s Alfa Romeo Alfasud,” Capitani says. “I loved that car, and it had a very short rear overhang with a hatchback – and the Mazda3 Sport reminds me of the Alfasud.”

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The five-passenger 2021 Mazda3 Sport in GT trim comes equipped with a Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is the standard format, but Mazda offers the Sport with their i-Activ all-wheel drive system and Capitani’s car is so equipped.

“We live in Canada,” Capitani says. “It’s icy and dark a good portion of the year. All-wheel drive was an important feature to have. It works very well, and it really digs in and helps push the car around the corners. I was also really impressed with the lighting – it’s top notch. I test drove the Kona in the dark, and I found the beam pattern sub-par. The beam pattern that the Mazda puts down on the road is high-quality and just far superior.”

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The seating surfaces of Capitani’s Sport are covered in black leather. The GT package adds 10-way power adjustability to the driver’s seat, while the passenger seat offers four-way manual adjustment. The front seats and the leather-wrapped steering wheel are heated, and those functions can be set to come on automatically as they are linked to the climate controls.

“That feature is greatly appreciated, because the car is parked outside,” Capitani says, and he continues, “in my opinion, the ability to link the heated seats and steering wheel to the automatic climate control is a $100,000 car feature, not a $35,000 car feature.”

In fact, he says, “The materials and the construction quality in this car feels like it should have cost $20,000 more than it did.”

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Overall, the Mazda3 Sport is intuitive to use, Capitani says, and he’s impressed with the head-up display as it shows the car’s speed together with the posted speed limit. Mazda’s navigation system will show directions in the HUD, but Capitani says Apple CarPlay directions will not appear there – a situation he finds somewhat odd.

Layout of the instrument panel finds favour, and Capitani likes the digital bar that counts down the kilometres to empty. The steering wheel is “packed with buttons” he says, and he finds some of them hard to read in certain lighting situations. Another design detail – and one that’s often overlooked — that sets the car apart, he adds, is the location of the windshield washer spray nozzles; they’re integrated into the wiper arm. “That just makes so much sense to me,” Capitani says.

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Handling is great, but Capitani’s Mazda3 Sport with the naturally aspirated 2.5L engine that makes 186 horsepower feels “a little sluggish,” he explains. For the GT, Mazda does offer an optional 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 250 h.p.

Capitani continues, “I’m sure it’s all about fuel efficiency, and in day to day driving it just doesn’t feel as quick as you think it should, even in Sport mode; it looks faster than it feels when you’re driving it.”

I’m happier that we got the Mazda than the Ford.

Engine and wind noise is almost non-existent, according to Capitani. The ride wouldn’t be considered plush, but Capitani says that’s to be expected of a car the size of the Sport and with a relatively short wheelbase.

“The roofline is quite low, and you do have to be careful not to hit the top of your head as you get into the car,” Capitani says. “Also, I find there are some blind spots for shoulder checking, but the blind spot monitoring system works very well – I’ve experienced many different systems, and this one is really good.”

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Six months after buying the Mazda3 Sport, the Capitani’s car has just a bit more than 6,000 kilometres on the odometer.

“We were serious about the Maverick,” he says, and concludes, “but looking back, I’m happier that we got the Mazda than the Ford – a similarly equipped Maverick would have been about $10,000 more.”


A pure luxury car without the luxury price…

Other owners of the 2021 Mazda3 echo Walter Capitani’s sentiments about the vehicle. On March 31, 2021, a reviewer writing on www.cars.com, said the Mazda3 is “A pure luxury car without the luxury price in a perfect size for what I need. The interior looks right out of a car at 5 times the price. The seats are so comfortable. My daughter even commented from the back seat that it was really comfortable.” This reviewer thought the non-turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder was powerful enough, though, and that’s at odds with Capitani’s assessment. They write, “With 187 h.p. this car can get out of its own way in a hurry. And all the safety features are amazing.”

Another www.cars.com reviewer posted on April 13, 2022, that they’ve owned one of every generation of the Mazda3. “I believe the fourth generation is the perfect daily driver,” they write, “with compelling design, eye-catching paint, phenomenal interior ergonomics, fun handling, and an excellent blend of technology and traditional aesthetics.”

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