2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen vs. 2019 Mazda 3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Golf SportWagen has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Mazda 3 doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Both the Golf SportWagen and the Mazda 3 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 Golf SportWagen comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The 3’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 3 years and 36,000 miles sooner.

The Golf SportWagen’s corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the Mazda 3’s (10 vs. 5 years).

There are over 12 percent more Volkswagen dealers than there are Mazda dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Golf SportWagen’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 28 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 21st.

Engine

The Golf SportWagen S 4MOTION’s optional 1.8 turbo 4 cyl. produces 13 lbs.-ft. more torque (199 vs. 186) than the Mazda 3’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Golf SportWagen 4MOTION is faster than the Mazda 3 (automatics tested):

Golf

Mazda3

Zero to 60 MPH

7 sec

7.2 sec

Quarter Mile

15.5 sec

15.6 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Golf SportWagen gets better fuel mileage than the Mazda3 Hatchback:

MPG

Golf SportWagen

FWD

Manual

1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

29 city/37 hwy

Auto

1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

27 city/36 hwy

Mazda3 Hatchback

FWD

Manual

2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

25 city/35 hwy

Auto

2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

26 city/35 hwy

The Golf SportWagen 4Motion’s standard fuel tank has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Mazda 3 FWD’s standard fuel tank (14.5 vs. 13.2 gallons).

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is optional on the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen 1.4 turbo 4 cyl., for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Mazda 3.

Brakes and Stopping

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

Golf

Mazda3

Front Rotors

11.3 inches

11.02 inches

Rear Rotors

10.7 inches

10.43 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Golf SportWagen SE’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Mazda 3 (225/45R17 vs. 215/45R18).

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Mazda 3 has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Golf SportWagen has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Mazda 3 doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

Cargo Capacity

The Golf SportWagen has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Mazda3 Hatchback with its rear seat up (30.4 vs. 20.1 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

The Golf SportWagen uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Mazda 3 uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the Golf SportWagen and the Mazda 3 have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Golf SportWagen is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Mazda 3 prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

If the windows are left open on the Golf SportWagen the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can also lower the windows the same way. The driver of the Mazda 3 can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Golf SportWagen’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Mazda 3 Base Sedan’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Both the Golf SportWagen and the Mazda 3 offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Golf SportWagen has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Mazda 3 doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The Golf SportWagen SE has a 115-volt a/c outlet in the cargo area, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Mazda 3 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Model Availability

The Volkswagen Golf comes in four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Mazda 3 isn’t available as a station wagon.

Recommendations

The Golf was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The Mazda 3 has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

Motor Trend selected the Golf as their 2015 Car of the Year. The Mazda 3 has never been chosen.

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

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