2019 Mazda 3 vs. 2019 Volkswagen Golf

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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

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

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 Golf doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Mazda 3 and the Golf have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact 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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The Mazda 3 comes with free roadside assistance for 3 years 36,000 miles. Mazda will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Golf.

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

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mazda vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mazda 22nd in initial quality. With 3 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 24th.

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 Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mazda 14th in reliability. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 19th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mazda third in reliability. Volkswagen is ranked 16th.

Engine

The Mazda 3’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 39 more horsepower (186 vs. 147) and 2 lbs.-ft. more torque (186 vs. 184) than the Golf’s 1.4 turbo 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 Golf 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 Golf.

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

Mazda 3 AWD

Golf

Front Rotors

11.61 inches

11.3 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Mazda 3 has larger standard tires than the Golf (205/60R16 vs. 195/65R15).

The Mazda 3 Sedan’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Golf S’ standard 65 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 Golf S. The Mazda 3’s optional 18-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels optional on the Golf SE.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Mazda 3’s wheelbase is 3.5 inches longer than on the Golf (107.3 inches vs. 103.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Mazda 3 is .7 inches wider in the front and 2.4 inches wider in the rear than on the Golf.

For better maneuverability, the Mazda 3’s turning circle is 1 foot tighter than the Golf’s (34.8 feet vs. 35.8 feet).

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 Golf doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

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

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 Golf 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 Golf 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 Golf’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 Golf offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

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 Golf doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

The Mazda 3 Hatchback/Select/Preferred/Premium’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Golf doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

Recommendations

The Mazda 3 outsold the Volkswagen Golf/GTI by 53% during 2018.

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

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