Wheels (Australia) - - Head To Head -

The Tour­ing-spec 3 costs a mere $300 more but lacks some of the Hyundai’s nice ex­tras, such as 17-inch alloys (it gets 16s) and LED DRLS. But the Mazda gets a proper sat-nav while the Hyundai re­lies on a paired iphone (or, with an update soon, an An­droid phone). The Mazda also of­fers a $1500 safety pack that in­cludes city-speed AEB. 18/20 Like some other mid-level Maz­das, the 3 lacks key­less en­try – you have to press the key-fob un­lock but­ton. But in­side it of­fers a classier feel than its ri­val and great qual­ity, though it’s gen­er­ally a bit less spa­cious. There’s more rear head­room, but less space in other di­rec­tions, and you don’t get rear air-vent out­lets. 17/20

Di­rect in­jec­tion and a higher com­pres­sion ra­tio con­trib­ute to the 3’s power-to-weight ad­van­tage. But a fo­cus on fru­gal­ity – de­liv­ered in part by over-ea­ger up­shifts – re­moves some of the fun. On the flip­side, the Mazda is the miser, at 5.7L/100km (ver­sus 7.2L/100km), which is just as well given its 11L-smaller tank. 17/20 Mazda has made ground in terms of shut­ting out NVH, but there’s still room for im­prove­ment. How many times have we said that over the past three decades or so? Part of the 3’s ride deficit is be­cause Mazda puts en­ter­tain­ment value first, and for a taut, sporty car it’s not un­com­fort­able – the com­pro­mise isn’t bad. 15/20 Steer­ing is an im­prove­ment over early Zoom Zoom-era Maz­das in that it’s now more mea­sured and lin­ear. Though this re­moves a bit of the up-for-it na­ture of the first-gen 3, it makes for a more ma­ture, yet still sporty drive. Sim­i­larly, the sus­pen­sion im­parts a more solid feel and de­liv­ers a planted, well-bal­anced flavour. 16/20

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