Light­weight ti­tle

The Mazda3 is the most pop­u­lar car with pri­vate buy­ers and the new Golf is World Car of the Year. Let bat­tle com­mence

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cover Story - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­guide.com.au

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.

VALUE

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

TECH­NOL­OGY

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

DE­SIGN

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

SAFETY

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

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