2019 Mazda 3 vs. 2019 Ford Fiesta

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Mazda 3 has standard Whiplash Reducing Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash Reducing Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Fiesta doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

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 Fiesta 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 Fiesta 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 Fiesta doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Mazda 3 has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Fiesta doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

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 Fiesta 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 Fiesta 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 Fiesta 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 Fiesta doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

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

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 Fiesta’s camshafts. If the Fiesta’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

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 Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mazda 14th in reliability. With 8 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mazda third in reliability. Ford is ranked 18th.

Engine

The Mazda 3’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 66 more horsepower (186 vs. 120) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (186 vs. 112) than the Fiesta’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

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 Fiesta doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

Transmission

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

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 Fiesta.

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

Mazda 3

Mazda 3 AWD

Fiesta

Front Rotors

11.02 inches

11.61 inches

10.2 inches

Rear Rotors

10.43 inches

10.43 inches

7.9” drums

The Mazda 3 has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the Fiesta. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Mazda 3 has larger standard tires than the Fiesta (205/60R16 vs. 185/60R15). The Mazda 3’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Fiesta (215/45R18 vs. 195/50R16).

The Mazda 3’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Fiesta’s optional 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Mazda 3 Sedan has standard 16-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Fiesta. The Mazda 3’s optional 18-inch wheels are larger than the 16-inch wheels optional on the Fiesta.

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

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Mazda 3’s wheelbase is 9.3 inches longer than on the Fiesta (107.3 inches vs. 98 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Mazda 3 is 4 inches wider in the front and 5.2 inches wider in the rear than on the Fiesta.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Mazda 3 a Compact car, while the Fiesta Sedan is rated a Subcompact.

The Mazda 3 Sedan has 7.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Fiesta (92.8 vs. 85.1).

The Mazda 3 Sedan has 4 inches more front hip room, 3 inches more front shoulder room, .2 inches more rear headroom, 3.9 inches more rear legroom, 1.7 inches more rear hip room and 4.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Fiesta Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The Mazda 3 Sedan has a larger trunk than the Fiesta Sedan (13.2 vs. 12.8 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

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 Fiesta 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 Fiesta doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Mazda 3’s standard power windows allow the driver or passenger to lower and raise the windows without leaning over or being distracted. Power windows are only available on the Fiesta SE/ST-Line.

The Mazda 3’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Fiesta SE/ST-Line’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

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 Fiesta’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 Fiesta 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 Fiesta 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 Fiesta 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 Fiesta’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 Fiesta 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 Fiesta 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 Fiesta doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

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 Fiesta doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Recommendations

The Mazda 3 outsold the Ford Fiesta by 25% during 2018.

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

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