Here's something we don't often see. Not drag racing – we see that every day. We don't usually see a Mazda tearing up the asphalt, but there's a new contender from Hiroshima that adds turbocharged power with all-wheel-drive on the compact Mazda3. That's a delicious recipe for spritely performance, but is it hot enough to take on established rally and hot-hatch heroes like the Subaru WRX and VW Golf R?
That's the subject of this three-way drag race from Throttle House, and right off the bat, the turbocharged Mazda is the underdog. Yes, its new 250-horsepower (184-kilowatt) engine is a significant step up for the 3, but it still trails the 268-hp (197-kW) Subaru WRX and it's significantly behind the mighty Golf R with its 288-hp (212-kW) mill. At a glance, it doesn't look good for the Mazda but races aren't decided by glances.
Gallery: 2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo
Looking deeper, this three-way contest has more variables to consider. The WRX in question is saddled with a fun-zapping CVT instead of a manual transmission. In the Golf R, launch control is turned off since the Mazda3 doesn't have a comparable system of its own. And while the 3 has the least horsepower of the bunch, it boasts the most torque by a wide margin. Horsepower keeps you going, but torque can get you going and we all know how important the launch is in a drag race.
Still, overcoming the VW's power advantage is pretty much hopeless. Two races are held – one from a standing start and another from a roll – and there's simply no stopping the Golf R. That said, the Mazda3 does put up one hell of a good fight, sprinting away from both competitors on the standing start and further showing its torque advantage in the roll race.
The real question is whether the 3 trumps the WRX. For that, we defer to the video.