2019 Mazda CX-3 vs. 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Smart City Brake Support optional in the CX-3 as “Superior.” The Golf SportWagen scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

Both the CX-3 and the Golf SportWagen 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 all wheel drive and lane departure warning systems.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the CX-3 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Golf SportWagen was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.

Warranty

The CX-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 SportWagen.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the CX-3’s engine. A rubber belt that needs periodic replacement drives the Golf SportWagen 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.’s camshafts. If the Golf SportWagen’s cam drive 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.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the UX Series gets better fuel mileage than the Golf SportWagen:

 

 

 

MPG

AWD

Auto

CX-3 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

27 city/32 hwy

AWD

Manual

Golf SportWagen 1.8 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/32 hwy

 

Auto

Golf SportWagen 1.8 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

Transmission

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

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the CX-3 AWD’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Golf SportWagen:

 

CX-3

Golf

Front Rotors

11.6 inches

11.3 inches

Rear Rotors

11.1 inches

10.7 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the CX-3 has larger tires than the Golf SportWagen (215/60R16 vs. 195/65R15).

The CX-3 Sport’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 SportWagen S’ standard 65 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the CX-3 Sport has standard 16-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Golf SportWagen S. The CX-3 Grand Touring/Touring’s 18-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the Golf SportWagen SE.

Suspension and Handling

The CX-3 Grand Touring AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the Golf SportWagen S pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

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

Chassis

The Mazda CX-3 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 250 to 350 pounds less than the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen.

The CX-3 is 11.3 inches shorter than the Golf SportWagen, making the CX-3 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the CX-3 Touring AWD is quieter than the Golf SportWagen SE (39 vs. 40 dB).

Ergonomics

The CX-3 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 climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

When two different drivers share the CX-3 Grand Touring, the optional memory seats make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer memory seats.

The CX-3 Grand Touring has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the CX-3 has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the Golf SportWagen only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The CX-3’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Golf SportWagen’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

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

On extremely cold winter days, the CX-3 Grand Touring’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The CX-3’s optional automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

The CX-3 Grand Touring’s standard GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Golf SportWagen’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Mazda CX-3, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels.

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

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