The Mazda3 is the most popular car with private buyers and the new Golf is World Car of the Year. Let battle commence
THE problem with getting to the top of the heap is everyone wants to knock you off.
And when it comes to car makers, the battle is more mixed martial arts than Marquis of Queensberry. Volkswagen has engineered its seventh-generation Golf to take the fight to the Mazda3 and anything else in the smallcar class. At stake is the title of the best private-buyers’ car in the country.
The Mazda SP20 SkyActiv is $27,990 with a six-speed auto; the Golf 90TSI Comfortline costs $27,490 with a sevenspeed dual-clutch auto.
There is little to separate the pair on specification— the differences all relate to the Mazda’s age. The dinky little display mounted in the sweep of the dash has a standard satnav function but is a puny progenitor to the 5.8-inch touch screen in the Golf.
The flip is the Golf doesn’t have satnav but it does have a reversing camera.
GOLF 4.5 | MAZDA4
The drive for efficiency has led VWand Mazda along divergent routes.
The Golf uses a dual-clutch auto and turbocharged 1.4-litre engine mounted in one of the most advanced chassis built for a massmarket car. All the Germans are going for turbo engines as the most effective way to add power and cut fuel use.
The Mazda eschews that approach for a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine with a high compression ratio matched to a six-speed auto built specifically to maximise the engine’s peaky strengths.
On paper the Golf wins the fossil fuel debate with 5.4L/100km against 6.1L in the Mazda3— but the Golf needs 95RON petrol to do it.
GOLF 4.5 | MAZDA4
Every surface on the Golf is honed to a minimalist aesthetic that would have made Ludwig Mies van der Rohe— the father of less is more’’ design— proud. He’s dead but you can still appreciate it. The silhouette is unmistakably a Golf, just with sharper panel creases than the outgoing model.
The Mazda hatch is all about swoopy curves that make it look longer than its 11cm edge over the Golf. That doesn’t translate into cargo space, as theVW’s 380-litre capacity edges the Mazda’s 300L.
Rear room isn’t great for adults in either car but the Golf’s ceiling is higher.
Cabin ambience is where the Mazda can’t keep up. The plastics and chrome bling are well assembled but don’t look or feel as convincing and the cabin layout is dated among the latest crop of compact cars.
GOLF 4.5 | MAZDA3.5
Both vehicles are five-star cars but the Golf has the edge in outright scores, based on EuroNCAP testing. So it should have, given it is four