Mazda 3 - Is the best compact car to bring home?

Mazda 3 - Is the best compact car to bring home?

The Mazda 3 is one of the best cars that money can buy in Malaysia. It is efficient, has tons of safety features as well as is decent looking too. Mazda has a hatchback as well as sedan offering of the Mazda 3 car. These are separated by a small price difference too. The sedan basically rivals the Toyota Vios, Honda City, Nissan Almera as well as the Volkswagen Polo sedan called the Vento. The hatchback in the meanwhile competes with Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf.

Mazda 3 hatch and sedan

So, is it the best compact car that one will want to get home? Is there anything else in this segment that will be a worthy opponent to the Mazda 3? We have mentioned the competitors in the paragraph above. Let’s see if these hold good against the Mazda 3 sedan and hatch.

Sedan rivalry

new vios exteriorThe Toyota Vios is a decent selling model in the Malaysian market space. Reports also suggest that it is a natural choice in the Indonesian and Philippines market as well. Its dimensions of 4,410 mm x 1,700 mm x 1,475 mm in length, width and height means it is of the same size as the Mazda 3. The wheelbase of 2,550 mm is a tad less than what the others in the segment offer. This shows when you sit in the rear seat of the Vios. The legroom seems a tad compromised. However, this is for those exceptionally tall chauffeurs driven individuals. Toyota is the only one here which offers a DVR system that basically records the entire trip on a camera. An SD card is used and one can download and keep the data for future references. Toyota uses a 1.5-litre engine that pumps out 105 horsepower. This engine can be optioned with a manual or a CVT. Did we add that the TRD or aero kit just brings out the boy racer looks of the Vios? Prices start from RM 70,752.

Want a limo for less than RM 80k? Look no further than the old man of this lot, the Nissan Almera. The Almera is 4,425 mm x 1,695 mm x 1,500 mm in its length, width and height dimensions. The wheelbase is 2,600 mm. The cabbies prefer it and so do the people who book or use these cabs. The logic is maximum space inside the cabin with little attention paid to details or even the styling. Nissan thinks “if it ain’t broken, then why fix it”. This is the very reason why the Nissan Almera has barely received any updates, let alone a generation change in almost eight years. The boot space of 490 litres is big enough but it is now easily outclassed by the Honda City. There is auto climate control on offer inside and the Almera was the first car in its segment to come with rear AC vents. A 1.5-litre 99 PS/138 Nm petrol engine is the only one you can buy the car with. It can be optioned with a 4-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual. It is also the most affordable car of the lot with prices starting from RM 64,639. Need a racier looking model that only boasts cosmetic bits? The Almera Nismo is available for RM 78,263.

The Honda City is the benchmark which every other car in the segment intends to beat. This is for good reason. Reliability quotient is very high here and the City looks a million bucks too. The dimensions state that the Honda City is 4440 mm x 1695 mm x 1,495 mm in the length, width and height department. It’s wheelbase is 2,600 mm. It is the only car here to offer a Hybrid version. Speaking of which, the Honda City hybrid uses the same engine as the regular car (1.5-litre naturally aspirated unit) but utilises more energy efficient methods. The technological advances over the regular motor include a single overhead cam and slight detuning (110 PS compared to 120 PS). The electric motor brings in 30 PS and 160 Nm. The combined output is 137 PS and 170 Nm. For this engine, there is no manual option and one has to make do with a CVT. The upside is the stellar fuel efficiency of 28 kmpl thereabouts. Prices for the Honda City start from RM 87,000.

If German technology is what you aspire for then Volkswagen has got the Vento ready for you. The Vento looks as teutonic as things can be. The Vento also happens to be the only car here with a turbo petrol heart. The puny 1.2-litre makes 105 PS of power and 153 Nm of torque. The engine is mated to a fast shifting 7-speed DSG box. The engine is also efficient and at the same time hits the ton in less than 10 seconds. There is also the 1.6-litre naturally aspirated motor that is good for 105 PS of power and 153 Nm of torque. It can be optioned with a 5-speed manual. Volkswagen has recently started offering LED lights on the top spec trim. This makes the Vento look more attractive. Volkswagen has priced the Vento starting from RM 81,888.

mazda 3 sedan

Since we are talking about the Mazda 3, here are a few details about the car. It measures 4,470 mm in length, 1,795 mm in width and 1,465 mm in height. It has the longest wheelbase here at 2,700 mm. The 3 offers lot of space in the cabin and for both the front and rear passengers. The party trick is the head-up display and there is also the powered driver’s seat. It also offers front parking sensors. The engine is a 2.0-litre petrol that produces 162 PS of power and 210 Nm of torque. Mazda uses a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters as standard here. To say the least, the Mazda is the best handling as well as riding car in this lot. It is however priced steeply at RM 103,320.

Hatchbacks

Mazda 3 hatch

The Mazda 3 hatchback measures a tad less in length than the sedan. It however is more agile given the less weight and lower centre of gravity. The features are the same as the sedan and so is the engine. It is priced higher than the sedan though. Prices start from RM 119,124.

ford focus

The Ford Focus stands for sportiness. It is at par with the Mazda 3 which is also widely regarded as one of the sporty hatchbacks on offer today. Dual zone climate control, heated ORVMs, Sync 3 enabled music system that is a touchscreen, parallel parking tech and more. Ford offers the Focus with a 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine. This engine produces 180 PS of power and 240 Nm of torque from its turbo heart. The 6-speed dual clutch automatic is standard too. Like the Mazda, even this one offers a Cross Traffic Alert with BLIS. The handling is also able and nimble while the ride quality goes as a tad too stiff. The Focus measures 2,648 in its wheelbase while the length, width and height are 4,358 mm x 1,823 mm and 1,484 mm respectively. Prices start from RM 118,888.

The Volkswagen Golf GT is widely revered world across. It is said that the seventh generation Golf has gone a tad soft. However, the global sales point towards a steep rise in sales numbers. The new VW Golf measures 4,258 mm in length, 2,027 mm in width and 1,492 mm in height. The wheelbase is 2,620 mm. There are no stand out features in the Golf though apart from what the others here offer. At the heart of matters is a 1.4-litre direct injection turbo petrol that makes 150 PS of power and 250 Nm of torque. The 7-speed DSG is also equipped with paddle shifters. Build quality is the best amongst the lot here though. There are varied trims like the R-Line. Prices start from RM 147, 608, the costliest of the lot by a big margin.

Verdict

In terms of the sedans, the Mazda 3 reigns supreme and will be our choice. For the hatchbacks though, the delectable Golf will be our choice.

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