Manual Hatchback Quick Take: Mazda3 or Volkswagen Golf?


It is a uncommon deal with when any automobile arrives within the MotorTrend press fleet with its driver’s footwell crowded with three pedals, so when VW despatched us a 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI with a stick, we could not resist evaluating it with one other guide “heat hatch” in our fleet: our Machine Gray long-term 2020 Mazda3 hatchback. Sure, we have all seen the eighth-generation Golf, which is on sale in Europe already, however it appears to be like prefer it’s not coming right here till the 2022 mannequin yr, so for now, our up to date 2015 Car of the Year troopers on. How aggressive is it, in its most elemental stick-shifted type?

How Do the Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf TSI Costs Examine?

That is the Borneo pygmy elephant within the storage: Main pruning of the mannequin traces and choices availability at each Mazda and VW means the guide variations of those two now come just about as mono-spec automobiles—the Mazda, accessible in 2018 with a stick in 2.0-liter Sport and a couple of.5 liter Touring trims priced from $20,240 to $21,735, now solely comes loaded with the two.5-liter engine, the premium bundle, and no manufacturing facility choices apart from paint colours (which may add between $200 and $595), plus the selection of black or pink leather-based seats.

As not too long ago as final yr, VW offered guide Golf TSIs in S or SE trim and supplied a $1,295 driver-assistance bundle that included adaptive cruise management, lane maintain help, auto high-beams, and different goodies that will have higher matched our loaded Mazda’s value and tools stage. However for 2020, Golf stick choices are equally restricted to paint and a handful of port-installed doodads at a spec stage that is someplace between the previous S and SE grades. So, at $24,115 our Vee-Dub is $4,330 cheaper than the present going price for our Mazda3, whereas final yr’s extra comparably geared up Golf TSI would have been simply $1,775 cheaper, they usually may have been at parity in 2018 (with a 1.8-liter turbo within the VW). The extra splendid head-to-head is perhaps with a base Golf GTI guide (with plaid material seats!), but when you could find a stripper S mannequin, the GTI guide begins at $29,515 and may prime $37 grand.

Which Is quicker, the Mazda3 or Volkswagen Golf TSI?

It will come as no shock to learn that the 1.4-liter turbo in the Golf, hitching 3.Three extra kilos as much as every of its 147 horses ran 0.Eight second slower to 60 mph (7.7 versus 6.9 seconds) and 0.9 slower by way of the quarter mile (16.1 seconds at 88.1 mph versus 15.2 seconds at 93.Zero mph). That may shock you extra had you been behind the wheel of every, as a result of the torque curves are so completely different. The little turbo’s 184 lb-ft of peak enhance arrives at simply 1,400 rpm whereas the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter does not obtain its 186 lb-ft till 4,000 revs, which forces you to wring that engine out extra and deprives the driving force of that rush of turbo torque we’re getting fairly used to. The larger-lunged Mazda engine can be barely coarser in its supply than the wee Golf’s 4. For the document, that absolutely loaded $37,415 GTI manual hits these marks in 6.2 seconds and 14.7 seconds at 98.6 mph.

Which Stick Is Extra Enjoyable to Row, Mazda3 or Volkswagen Golf?

As somebody whose proper wrist, elbow, and shoulder muscle reminiscence stretches again to E34 and E39 BMW 5 Sequence, the Honda S600 and S2000, to not point out myriad Mazda MX-5 Miatas, let’s simply say that neither of those transverse front-drive cable-operated shifters conjures phrases like “elegant” or “pleasant mechanical precision” the way in which the above longitudinal rear-drive sticks used to. That having been mentioned, whereas urgent every automotive equally laborious over the identical pretty set of native hilly twists, the Mazda3’s shifter introduced some problem on fast 3-2 downshifts greater than as soon as, and the Golf’s didn’t. It is also our unhappy obligation to report that there isn’t any golf-ball shift knob within the TSI; you need to spring for the GTI (or troll the aftermarket) to get that deal with.

Which One Handles Higher, Mazda3 or Volkswagen Golf?

Right here once more, the Golf TSI competes with two tire/wheel sizes tied behind its again. The Mazda3’s wider, lower-profile V speed-rated 215/45R18 TOYO Proxes A40 tires are stickier and extra aggressive than the Golf’s fuel-efficiency and tread-wear optimized H-rated 205/55R16 Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 Plus sneakers. Nonetheless, the measurable distinction is lower than Three p.c in lateral g cornering grip (0.85 to 0.83 g), and 5 p.c in a straight-line braking from 60 mph (118 toes for the Mazda, 124 for the VW). Determine-eight efficiency can be nearer than anticipated, and out on the street, each ship a fairly sporting really feel, with admirably linear steering response. Neither is a paragon of street really feel, nonetheless. As a journalist, I am purported to sense some deficiency within the Mazda3’s new twist-beam suspension relative to the multilink rear setups within the Golf and the earlier 3, and OK, should you pay tremendous shut consideration on sure cross-car bump occasions that hit each rear wheels in a flip, perhaps there is a trace of discombobulation or sideways skitter. Possibly. And perhaps the mysterious G-Vectoring management that trims energy barely on nook entry to load the entrance tires serves to masks potential dangerous habits. By and huge, they each scooted round our backroad ring fairly darned effectively.

Mazda3 vs. Volkswagen Golf: How Does the Trip Examine?

The VW’s taller tires cushion larger bumps a bit higher, however street textures learn by way of this older chassis a bit extra noticeably than within the new Mazda. That having been mentioned, a couple of of the identical bumps excited some sprint trim vibration on the Mazda3 that was absent within the VW. The seats are equally cosseting, although the Mazda leather-based feels nicer than the VW’s perforated leatherette.

Mazda3 vs. Volkswagen Golf: Which Cockpit Is Nicer?

No query—the Mazda3’s inside appears to be like $8,000 richer at half that value premium. Mazda has been attempting to forged itself because the Japanese Audi the place inside design and execution are involved, and the corporate is making nice progress alongside these traces. Each main floor above the armrests is tender to the contact, and far of it appears to be like hand sewn with distinction stitching. There is a tasteful chrome strip operating the width of the sprint, a flowery head-up show, an 8.8-inch colour show with rotary push-knob management (similar to on an Audi!), and wealthy pink leather-based. Oh, and the quilt for the usual glass sunroof is opaque, whereas the VW’s lets mild in.

Our VW featured a beige and black contrasting inside that’s typically pleasing to take a look at, however far more of it’s composed of laborious plastic, the seats make no secret of their “leatherette” vinyl composition, and the instrument cluster is principally two needle gauges framing a prehistoric low-res two-color driver-information show that now appears as jarring because the Golf’s lack of a three-flash-to-pass perform on the flip sign. Naturally, there isn’t any HUD. One attention-grabbing Volkswagen “development” is the presence of a USB-C port. Only one. For the entire automotive. And no old school USB-A ports into which all of us have 1,000,000 plugs that match.

Mazda3 vs. Volkswagen Golf: How Do the Again Seats and Cargo Areas Examine?

This average-height (5-foot-10) physique matches behind itself simply in each, however there is a good fist’s value of surplus head area overhead within the VW (maybe partly as a result of its sunroof panel slides again exterior the roof, not beneath it as within the Mazda). The massive rear facet home windows and decrease, stage beltline repay in means higher outward visibility within the VW, however a decrease cushion gives much less thigh assist. Each supply 60/40 break up rear seat backs, fold-down armrests, and every conveniently attaches the center passenger’s shoulder belt to the seatback, reasonably than providing a removable roof-mounted one. Right here once more, the ambiance is vastly richer within the Mazda, with the identical contrast-stitched tender materials and all laborious plastics relegated to hip stage and beneath. The VW’s rear seat is greater, although, providing 1.6 inches extra headroom and a half-inch every of leg- and shoulder room relative to the Mazda. Cargo clever, the VW matches a bit extra (2.7 cubes with the seats up, 6.6 with them down) and gives a two-position load flooring for a little bit of bonus area. You additionally get 4 cargo tie-down loops and two bag hooks, and a 12-volt energy outlet—none of which Mazda gives.

So Which Ought to You Purchase, the Mazda3 or Volkswagen Golf?

How a lot do you like automobiles, and to what extent do you observe your head or your coronary heart when buying one? In the event you’re a hard-nosed pragmatist researcher seeking to stretch the {dollars} farthest, the VW clearly makes probably the most sense. It will get higher fuel mileage, has an even bigger again seat and trunk, and prices much less. You in all probability will not thoughts a lot that it will begin to look seven years outdated late subsequent yr. In the event you love automobiles and you are not able to spend the additional to stretch to a GTI guide, you may absolutely relish trying again on the infinitely sexier Mazda. You will additionally enjoyment of its posh inside and relish using the Mazda’s many superior digital options like that head-up show and the Audi-like person interface. So should you subscribe to us and/or examine in with our website online day by day and even weekly, seize the Mazda. In the event you solely interface with us when your lease is up for renewal, go VW.

2020 Mazda Mazda3 (hatch) Skyactive G 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI*
BASE PRICE $24,645 $24,115 $29,515
PRICE AS TESTED $28,445 $24,115 $37,415
VEHICLE LAYOUT Entrance-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback Entrance-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback Entrance-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE 2.5L/186-hp/186-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 1.4L/147-hp/184-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 2.0L/220-hp/258-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 6-speed guide 6-speed guide 6-speed guide
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,010 lb (62/38%) 2,869 lb (59/41%) 3,197 lb (60/40%)
WHEELBASE 107.Three in 103.Eight in 103.6 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 175.6 x 70.7 x 56.7 in 167.6 x 70.Eight x 58.2 in 168.Zero x 70.Eight x 57.Eight in
0-60 MPH 6.9 sec 7.7 sec 6.2 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.2 sec @ 93.Zero mph 16.1 sec @ 88.1 mph 14.7 sec @ 98.6 mph
BRAKING, 60-Zero MPH 118 ft 124 ft 124 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.85 g (avg) 0.83 g (avg) 0.90 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.Zero sec @ 0.63 g (avg) 27.Three sec @ 0.62 g (avg) 26.Zero sec @ 0.70 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 25/35/29 mpg 28/36/31 mpg 25/33/28 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 135/96 kW-hrs/100 miles 120/94 kW-hrs/100 miles 135/102 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.68 lb/mile 0.62 lb/mile 0.69 lb/mile

*Check figures from mechanically similar 2018 Golf GTI with Autobahn bundle



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