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New Mazda 3 Turbo 2021 vs VW Golf R, Hyundai i30 N, Honda Civic Type R, Subaru WRX: How does it stack up against the performance kings?

How does the Mazda 3 Turbo stack up?

With details of the new Mazda 3 Turbo having finally landed (courtesy of an offical YouTube clip from Mazda in Mexico), we now know not just how much potent punch you'll get from the brand's turbocharged 2.5-litre engine, but also how it stacks up against the competition.

According to Mazda, the new Mazda3's 2.5-litre turbocharged engine will produce the same power and torque as its Mazda6 big brother, which means 170kW and a considerable 420Nm. And that's using regular 87RON petrol. Should you fill it with premium 93RON fuel, you can squeeze 186kW and 434Nm out of it, all thanks to a specific calibration.

It also gives us a hint of what to expect from its 0-100km/h time. Consider that a comparable Mazda6 will knock off the sprint in around seven seconds. The Mazda3, on the other hand, should prove about 300kg lighter than its big brother (always a win for straight-line speed) which should be enough to see 100km/h spin past on the speedo in a time that, at the very least, begins with a six.

First, lets check in with Mazda, where executives have been at pains to point out that the turbocharged 3 isn't expected to be a proper, rorty performance car. Rather than a reborn MPS, the extra power is more intended to unlock smooth and ample power, rather than hair-raising performance.

MPS was once Mazda's performance sub-brand, most recently responsible for the Mazda3 MPS, powered by a turbocharged 2.3-litre engine good for 190kW and 390Nm, which was discontinued in 2013. Interestingly, though, the new model does compete with the last MPS in terms of power.

The question is, how does that compare to its competitors? And is it really fair to describe the Mazda as a proper hot hatch?

VW Golf R

The Golf R punches out 213kW/380Nm. The Golf R punches out 213kW/380Nm.

If we're going to talk VW, we're going to have to talk Golf R, given the GTI's big brother is the closest matched in terms of AWD and its torque outputs.

To park one in your driveway will cost you $55,990, which - and this is pure guess work at this point - should be around $8k more than the most powerful example of the Mazda 3 Turbo when it arrives in Australia (though the brand is yet to confirm local pricing).

The Golf R is a perennial favourite for a reason, and while its 213kW isn't a million miles off the Mazda, and its torque figure of 380Nm is actually lower than the 3 Turbo's, you can bet the VW will remain a hell of a lot faster, with the R reporting a sprint to 100km/h of just 4.8 seconds.

That power is funnelled through a seven-speed DSG automatic, and like in the Mazda, it's sent to all four wheels. But numbers only tell part of a story, and specs aside, the VW is a proper performance hatch, from the way it rides and accelerates, to the way it goes around corners.

Hyundai i30 N

The i30 N is an out-and-out performance car, with a manual gearbox and a booming exhaust. The i30 N is an out-and-out performance car, with a manual gearbox and a booming exhaust.

Probably the best thing about Hyundai's first performance hatch is that it doesn't drive like a first attempt. In fact, the i30 N became a firm favourite in the CarsGuide office from the moment its rubber hit the road.

You'll pay around $42,910 for the privilege, and for that you'll get a thumping 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, which fires out an impressive 202kW and 353Nm, which are then sent hurtling towards the front tyres via a six-speed manual gearbox.

And that's the rub. The i30 N is an out-and-out performance car, with a manual gearbox (at least for now), a booming exhaust and more drivetrain configuration options than you can wave a driving glove at.

From a put power play, though, the Mazda3 Turbo is breathing down the Hyundai's neck for power, and it's got it licked on torque, all paired with a handy AWD set-up.

A gentleman's performance hatch, then?

Honda Civic Type R

Honda's Civic Type R is manual only, and costs $51,990. Honda's Civic Type R is manual only, and costs $51,990.

Honda's Civic Type R remains one of the angriest mainstream performance cars money can buy, with a punchy 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine punching out 228kW and 400Nm, which is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox.

Again, we're talking manual only, which rules out a huge chunk of the buying public, and the $51,990 asking price should rule out plenty more.

Again, we suspect the Mazda 3 Turbo will be such a different style of performance (one with a focus on plush over outright pace) that there won't be much cross-shopping across models.

Subaru WRX

The current WRX is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder making 197kW/350Nm. The current WRX is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder making 197kW/350Nm.

A performance icon, the Subaru WRX is on the cusp of replacement, with the new model expected to be revealed in April, and thought to be packing a choice between engine choices - a 1.8-litre or 2.4-litre engine, both turbocharged - when it does.

The smaller option is expected to produce 147kW while the bigger choice is good for a reported 200kW. Which is plenty.

Until then, though, the current WRX (not its STI big brother) squeezes some 197kW and 350Nm from its turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, which it pairs with a choice of manual or automatic transmission and AWD.

Again, the Mazda3 Turbo has the Rex largely licked on straight outputs, but we suspect the two vehicles will drive very - very differently...