Once a very common transmission, there aren’t too many new cars with manual transmissions around these days. MotorTrend has managed to find 17 that still offer stick shift for their 2021 model year, though. The 2021 Mazda3 is one of those cars, but there probably won’t be too many manual versions of the Mazda3. Here’s how to get the new manual transmission in your 2021 Mazda3.
Powertrain options for the 2021 Mazda3
The 2021 Mazda3 has a choice of three engines, helping to create what Car and Driver calls “one of the most refined and athletic compact cars on sale today.” Two of the engines are new for model year 2021. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with one exception.
The new sedan base trim now has a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter inline-four engine, producing 155 hp. All-wheel drive is not available with this engine, and it only comes with front-wheel drive. Last year’s naturally aspirated 2.5-liter inline-four engine is still offered as well, although its models are now called 2.5S models. It generates 186 hp.
Also new for 2021 is a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four engine, which produces 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. This 2.5-liter turbo engine comes only with the six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. It’s also the same engine that’s available in the CX-5, CX-9, and Mazda6. While there used to be a performance Mazdaspeed 3 hot hatchback, the 2.5-liter engine Mazda3 is designed to be more luxurious rather than a performance model.
A manual transmission
If you desperately still want a six-speed manual transmission on your new 2021 Mazda3, you’ll have one configuration to go with. The stick shift only comes on the front-wheel-drive hatchback equipped with the high-end Premium package. That means it isn’t available in either the sedan body or with the new 2.5-liter turbocharged engine.
According to MotorTrend, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine in the hatchback produces 186 hp and is enough to make having a manual transmission “a worthwhile addition.” This limited availability of the manual transmission continues what has been offered on the Mazda3 for 2019 and 2020. Buyers have to go back to the 2018 Mazda3 to find a six-speed manual transmission available on all trim levels. An automatic transmission was an available option for that model year.
The scoop on the new 2021 Mazda3
The 2021 Mazda3 comes as either a sedan or as a hatchback. The hatchback shape gives drivers visibility issues, and it also has less cargo space than the sedan version. The Mazda3’s interior is pretty upscale, according to Car and Driver. All trim levels feature an 8.8-inch infotainment display, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are available on all trims except the base trim.
The best interior features are found on the higher trim levels, including a head-up display, heated front seats, as well as leather upholstery. For 2021, the midrange Preferred trim gains a standard power sunroof, but it no longer comes standard with navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a 12-speaker Bose stereo system.
There are slight appearance differences with the different engines. The 2.5-liter turbo model has a blacked-out grille and different front bumper on the sedan. It also has a turbo badge as well as larger exhaust tips. Inside, the 2.5 Turbo model adds a heated steering wheel plus a frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror. The optional Premium Plus package provides a body kit, a black spoiler, a navigation system, a 360-degree camera, and leather upholstery.
The 2021 Mazda3 models with the two lower engines will go on sale in August. The 2.5 Turbo model will join them toward the end of this year. Buyers who love a manual transmission car should plan on looking for a hatchback 2021 Mazda3 with the Premium package.