Manual Hatchback Quick Take: Mazda3 or Volkswagen Golf?

It is a rare pleasure when a vehicle arrives in the MotorTrend press fleet with its driver’s floor crowded with three pedals, so when VW sent us a 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI with a stick, we couldn’t resist comparing it with another manual “hot hatch” in our fleet : our 2020 Mazda3 hatchback long-term Gray Machine. Yes, we have all seen the eighth generation Golf, which is already on sale in Europe, but it looks like it will not come here until model year 2022, so for now, our soldiers from the car of the 2015 updated. How competitive is it, in its most basic form of stick change?

How do Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf TSI prices compare?

This is the Borneo pygmy elephant in the garage: the major pruning of the model ranges and the availability of options at Mazda and VW means that the manual versions of these two now look almost like mono cars -spec – the Mazda, available in 2018 with a stick in the 2.0-liter Sport and 2.5-liter Touring versions for $ 20,240 to $ 21,735, now only delivered with the 2.5-liter engine , the premium pack, and no factory option other than the paint colors (which can add between $ 200 and $ 595), plus the choice of black or red leather seats.

As recently as last year, VW sold manual Golf TSIs in S or SE versions and offered a $ 1,295 driver assistance package that included adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, automatic high beams and other goodies that would have suited our loaded Mazda better. price and level of equipment. But for 2020, the golf club options are also limited to color and a handful of doodads installed on the harbor at a specification level somewhere between the old S and SE grades. So, at $ 24,115, our Vee-Dub is $ 4,330 cheaper than the current rate for our Mazda3, while last year’s more equipped Golf TSI would have been just $ 1,775 cheaper, and they could have been on par in 2018 (with a 1.8 liter). turbo in the VW). The most ideal head-to-head could be with a basic Golf GTI manual (with Scottish fabric seats!), But if you can find an S stripper model, the GTI manual starts at $ 29,515 and can exceed $ 37 .

Which is faster, the Mazda3 or the Volkswagen Golf TSI?

It will not be surprising to read that the 1.4-liter turbo in the Golf, harnessing an additional 3.3 pounds to each of its 147 horsepower, drove 0.8 seconds slower at 60 mph (7.7 versus 6 , 9 seconds) and 0.9 slower over the quarter mile (16.1 seconds at 88.1 mph versus 15.2 seconds at 93.0 mph). It would surprise you more if you had been driving each one, because the torque curves are so different. The small 184 lb-ft of turbo boost boost comes in at just 1,400 rpm while the naturally aspirated 2.5 liter only reaches 186 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm, which means you have to spin more this engine and deprives the driver of that rush of turbo torque, we get used to it enough. The larger Mazda engine is also slightly coarser in its delivery than the four of the small Golf. For the record, this fully loaded $ 37,415 GTI manual reaches these marks in 6.2 seconds and 14.7 seconds at 98.6 mph.

Which stick is more fun to row, Mazda3 or Volkswagen Golf?

As a person whose muscle memory for the right wrist, elbow and shoulder goes back to the BMW 5 Series E34 and E39, the Honda S600 and S2000, not to mention the myriad of Mazda MX-5 Miatas, let’s just say that none of these transverse cables with front traction – actuated levers evoke words like “sublime” or “delicious mechanical precision” as did the longitudinal rear traction levers above. That being said, while pressing each car as hard on the same beautiful set of local hilly corners, the gear lever of the Mazda3 presented some difficulties during the rapid downshifts 3-2 more than once, and not those of the Golf . It is also our sad duty to point out that there is no golf ball change button in the TSI; you have to jump for the GTI (or troll the aftermarket) to get this treat.

Which one manages better, Mazda3 or Volkswagen Golf?

Again, the Golf TSI competes with two sizes of tires / wheels attached behind its back. The wider and lower TOYO Proxes A40 215 / 45R18 TOYO Proxes tires of the Mazda3 are more sticky and more aggressive than the Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 Plus 205 / 55R16 Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 More fuel-efficient and more wear-resistant golf shoes. However, the measurable difference is less than 3% in grip in lateral turns g (0.85 to 0.83 g), and 5% in braking in a straight line from 60 mph (118 feet for the Mazda, 124 for the VW). The performance of the eight is also closer than expected, and on the road, both offer a reasonably sporty feel, with an admirably linear steering response. However, it is also not a paragon of the feel of the road. As a journalist, I’m supposed to experience a deficiency in the Mazda3’s new twisted beam suspension compared to the Golf’s multi-link rear configurations and the previous 3, and OK, if you pay close attention to some shock events between cars that hit two rear wheels in a bend, there may be a hint of discombobulation or side skitter. May be. And maybe the mysterious G-Vectoring control that slightly adjusts power at the entrance to corners to charge the front tires is used to mask potential bad behavior. Overall, they both slipped around our return ring.

Mazda3 vs Volkswagen Golf: how to compare driving?

The taller tires in the VW dampen bumps a little better, but the texture of the road reads this old chassis a little more than in the new Mazda. That said, some of the same bumps have excited certain vibrations of the dashboard trim on the Mazda3 that were absent in the VW. The seats are similar, although Mazda leather is nicer than the VW’s perforated imitation leather.

Mazda3 vs Volkswagen Golf: which cockpit is more pleasant?

No doubt – the interior of the Mazda3 looks richer by $ 8,000 at half that price premium. Mazda has tried to present itself as the Japanese Audi in interior design and execution, and the company is making great strides in that direction. Each main surface above the armrests is soft to the touch, and much of it appears to be hand-sewn with contrasting stitching. There’s a tasteful chrome strip across the width of the dashboard, a fancy head-up display, an 8.8-inch color screen with rotary push button control (like on an Audi!) And red leather rich. Oh, and the standard glass sunroof cover is opaque, while the VW lets the light in.

Our VW had a contrasting beige and black interior which is generally pleasant to look at, but much more composed of hard plastic, the seats do not hide their vinyl composition “imitation leather”, and the dashboard is essentially two needle gauges framing a two-color, low-resolution pre-historic display of driver information that now seems as shocking as the lack of three flash-to-pass functions on the turn signal. Of course, there is no HUD. An interesting “evolution” of Volkswagen is the presence of a USB-C port. Just one. For the whole car. And no old-fashioned USB-A ports where we all have a million records.

Mazda3 vs Volkswagen Golf: How do the rear seats and cargo spaces compare?

This medium height body (5 feet 10 inches) easily slides behind it in both, but there is a good excess of headroom in the VW (perhaps partly because its sunroof panel slides toward outside the roof, not underneath) like in the Mazda). Large rear side windows and lower and level seat belts provide better outward visibility on the VW, but a lower cushion provides less thigh support. Both offer 60/40 split rear seatbacks, fold-down armrests, and each conveniently attach the center passenger’s shoulder belt to the seatback, rather than offering a removable roof-mounted belt. Again, the atmosphere is much richer in the Mazda, with the same soft material sewn in contrast and all hard plastics relegated to the hip and below. The rear seat of the VW is larger, however, offering 1.6 inches of more headroom and half an inch of leg and shoulder space compared to the Mazda. On the loading side, the VW adapts a little more (2.7 cubes with the seats raised, 6.6 with them folded down) and offers a loading floor with two positions for a little extra space. You also get four tie-down loops and two bag hooks, as well as a 12-volt outlet, which Mazda doesn’t provide.

So what should you buy, the Mazda3 or the Volkswagen Golf?

How much do you like cars and how much do you follow your head or your heart when you buy one? If you’re a hard nosed, pragmatic researcher looking to get the most out of it, the VW clearly makes the most sense. It gets better fuel consumption, has a larger rear seat and trunk and costs less. It probably won’t bother you much that it’s starting to turn seven at the end of next year. If you love cars and aren’t able to spend more on stretching out a GTI manual, you will surely enjoy looking at the infinitely sexier Mazda. You will also appreciate its chic interior and savor the many advanced electronic functions of the Mazda such as this head-up display and the Audi-style user interface. So if you subscribe to us and / or log into our website daily or even weekly, take the Mazda. If you do not communicate with us until your lease is being renewed, go to VW.

2020 Mazda Mazda3 (tailgate) Skyactive G2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI *
STARTING PRICE$ 24,645$ 24,115$ 29,515
TESTED PRICE$ 28,445$ 24,115$ 37,415
VEHICLE LAYOUTFront engine, front wheel drive, 5 passages, 4 hatchback doorsFront engine, front wheel drive, 5 passages, 4 hatchback doorsFront engine, front wheel drive, 5 passages, 4 hatchback doors
ENGINE2.5 L / 186 horsepower / 186 lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-41.4L engine / 147 horsepower / 184 lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-42.0L / 220 PS / 258 lb-ft DOHC 16-valve 2.0-valve DOHC turbo engine
TRANSMISSION6-speed manual6-speed manual6-speed manual
EDGE WEIGHT (DIST F / R)3010 lbs (62/38%)2869 lbs (59/41%)3197 lbs (60/40%)
WHEELBASE107.3 inch103.8 in103.6 inch
Length x Width x Height175.6 x 70.7 x 56.7 inches167.6 x 70.8 x 58.2 inches168.0 x 70.8 x 57.8 inches
0-60 MPH6.9 seconds7.7 sec6.2 seconds
QUARTER OF MILE15.2 s at 93.0 mph16.1 s at 88.1 mph14.7 s at 98.6 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH118 ft124 ft124 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION0.85 g (average)0.83 g (average)0.90 g (average)
MT FIGURE EIGHT27.0 s to 0.63 g (average)27.3 s @ 0.62 g (average)26.0 s to 0.70 g (average)
EPA CITY / HWY / COMB FUEL ECON25/35/29 mpg28/36/31 mpg25/33/28 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY / HIGHWAY135/96 kWh / 100 miles120/94 kWh / 100 miles135/102 kW-h / 100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB0.68 lb / mile0.62 lb / mile0.69 lb / mile

* Mechanically identical 2018 Golf GTI test figures with Autobahn pack

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