2019 Mazda 3 vs. 2019 Fiat 500

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Mazda 3 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Fiat 500 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Mazda 3 (except Base Sedan) has standard Smart City Brake Support, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The 500 doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Mazda 3 offers optional Rear Smart Brake Support that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The 500 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Mazda 3 offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The 500 doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Mazda 3 (except Base Sedan)’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The 500 doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Mazda 3 offers an optional 360-Degree Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The 500 only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

To help make backing safer, the Mazda 3 (except Base Sedan)’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The 500 doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The Mazda 3 =’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The 500 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The Mazda 3 has standard E911 Automatic Emergency Notification, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The 500 doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Mazda 3 and the 500 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available blind spot warning systems.

The Mazda 3 weighs 446 to 750 pounds more than the Fiat 500. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

Warranty

Mazda’s powertrain warranty covers the 3 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Fiat covers the 500. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the 500 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are over 38 percent more Mazda dealers than there are Fiat dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the 3’s warranty.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Mazda 3’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the 500’s camshaft. If the 500’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Mazda 3 has a standard 130-amp alternator. The 500’s 120-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mazda 14th in reliability. With 48 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 29th.

Engine

The Mazda 3’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 51 more horsepower (186 vs. 135) and 36 lbs.-ft. more torque (186 vs. 150) than the 500’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Mazda 3’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 29 more horsepower (186 vs. 157) and 3 lbs.-ft. more torque (186 vs. 183) than the 500 Abarth’s optional 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Mazda 3’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 26 more horsepower (186 vs. 160) and 16 lbs.-ft. more torque (186 vs. 170) than the 500 Abarth’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Mazda3 gets better fuel mileage than the 500:

 

 

 

MPG

Mazda3

FWD

Auto

2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

26 city/35 hwy

 

 

Sedan Premium 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

27 city/36 hwy

AWD

Auto

Sedan 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

25 city/33 hwy

 

 

Hatch 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

500

FWD

Auto

1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

 

 

Abarth 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Mazda 3 Premium/Hatchback/AWD’s fuel efficiency. The 500 doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Mazda 3 uses regular unleaded gasoline. The 500 requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Mazda 3 AWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the 500 (12.7 vs. 10.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Mazda 3 FWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the 500 (13.2 vs. 10.5 gallons).

Transmission

The Mazda 3 comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the 500.

A six-speed manual is no cost option on the Mazda 3 Hatchback, with closer gear ratios for better performance and a lower final drive ratio for quieter highway operation, less engine wear and better fuel mileage. Only a five-speed manual is available for the 500.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Mazda 3 AWD’s brake rotors are larger than those on the 500:

 

Mazda 3 AWD

500

Front Rotors

11.61 inches

11.1 inches

Rear Rotors

10.43 inches

9.4 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Mazda 3 has larger standard tires than the 500 (205/60R16 vs. 195/45R16). The Mazda 3’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 500 (215/45R18 vs. 205/40R17).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Mazda 3 offers optional 18-inch wheels. The 500’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.

The Mazda 3’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Fiat 500 only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

The Mazda 3 has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the 500; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Mazda 3’s wheelbase is 16.7 inches longer than on the 500 (107.3 inches vs. 90.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Mazda 3 is 6.3 inches wider in the front and 7.2 inches wider in the rear than on the 500.

For better maneuverability, the Mazda 3’s turning circle is 2.8 feet tighter than the 500’s (34.8 feet vs. 37.6 feet).

Passenger Space

The Mazda 3 has standard seating for 5 passengers; the 500 can only carry 4.

The Mazda 3 Hatchback has 17.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 500 (92.7 vs. 75.5). The Mazda 3 Sedan has 17.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 500 (92.8 vs. 75.5).

Ergonomics

The Mazda 3 Auto offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The 500 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Mazda 3 has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The 500 doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

When two different drivers share the Mazda 3 Preferred/Premium, the memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each keyless remote activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The 500 doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Mazda 3 Premium has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and warning light readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The 500 doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Mazda 3’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children from operating them. Fiat does not offer a locking feature on the 500’s standard power windows.

The Mazda 3’s front and rear power windows all open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The 500’s power windows’ switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.

The Mazda 3’s standard power window controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The 500’s available power window controls are spread out on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.

Push Button Start standard on the Mazda 3 allows you to start the engine without removing a key from pocket or purse (Mazda 3 Hatchback/Select/Preferred/Premium’s Advanced Keyless Entry and Start will also allow unlocking the driver’s door and trunk without taking your keys out). The Fiat 500 doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Mazda 3 Hatchback/Select/Preferred/Premium’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The 500’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

The Mazda 3 (except Base Sedan) has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. When the ignition turns off, the headlights turn off after a delay timed to allow you to securely get to your front door. The 500 doesn’t offer automatic headlights.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Mazda 3 (except Base Sedan) detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The 500 doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Mazda 3 Premium has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The 500 doesn’t offer cornering lights.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Mazda 3 has standard extendable sun visors. The 500 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

When the Mazda 3 Preferred/Premium is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The 500’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Mazda 3 offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The 500 offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The Mazda 3 Hatchback/Select/Preferred/Premium has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The 500 doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The Mazda 3 Hatchback/Select/Preferred/Premium’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The 500 doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

For greater rear passenger comfort, the Mazda 3 has standard rear heat vents to keep rear occupants more comfortable. The 500 doesn’t offer rear vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Mazda 3 (except Base Sedan) has a standard Radar Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The 500 doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Recommendations

The Mazda 3 outsold the Fiat 500 by over 12 to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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