First class or cat­tle class? we have bothj

Wheels (Australia) - - Comparison/Mazda 3 vs Rivals -

1. FORD FO­CUS TI­TA­NIUM

Hardy, work­man­like dash miles away from ‘lux­ury’ de­spite gim­micky Jaguar-es­que ro­tary se­lec­tor, brushed alu­minium trim and classy night-time lighting. Messy di­als seem es­pe­cially cheap. Still, there’s heaps of room, prac­ti­cal­ity and func­tion­al­ity, while all the tech is present. Seats pro­vide ba­sic com­fort and sup­port front and rear, and there are de­cent lev­els of space too. No rear air vents (again) is an an­noy­ing omis­sion. A scrappy ef­fort for ‘Ti­ta­nium’ flag­ship. Cargo capacity is a use­ful 375L. Spare is a space saver.

3. MAZDA 3 ASTINA

The lat­est 3 pos­sesses pos­si­bly Mazda’s best-ever small­car cabin – it’s cer­tainly the qui­etest. Lovely steer­ing wheel, fine seating, great er­gonomics, gor­geous in­stru­men­ta­tion, pre­mium con­trols and fas­tid­i­ous qual­ity set the co­coon­ing Astina apart. How­ever, en­try/egress out back is lim­ited due to lower roofline and smaller door aper­tures, vi­sion out is lim­ited in ev­ery di­rec­tion and back-seat legroom also lags be­hind Golf’s de­spite scal­loped front seat­backs. Spare is a space saver, but boot vol­ume is just 295L.

2. HOLDEN AS­TRA RS-V

Get­ting on now, the As­tra’s in­te­rior is at least co­he­sive, and ac­tu­ally rarely puts a foot wrong in terms of func­tion­al­ity and prac­ti­cal­ity, but it won’t raise your pulse. Seating is ad­e­quate front and rear, but the leather is slip­pery and most plas­tics seem bargain-base­ment. RS-V feels too built down to a price and mean in this com­pany, with no rear vents or cen­tre arm­rest. Noisi­est of the lot by far, too, with no­tice­able plas­tics chat­ter inside on rough roads. Boot of­fers 360L, spare is a space saver.

4. VW GOLF 110TSI HIGH­LINE

Eas­i­est ac­cess, great driv­ing position, high­est qual­ity, most space, biggest stor­age and best prac­ti­cal­ity set Golf apart six years on. Dull, blocky dash houses up­dated and up­graded mul­ti­me­dia and in­stru­men­ta­tion that also keeps VW at the pointy end of the pack. High­line’s seating in both rows is also a class above, feels very Audi-like. Now no longer the qui­etest with the new 3 here, but it’s re­fined. Boot capacity is 380L, with a space-saver and the group’s lone ski port.

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