2019 Volkswagen Golf vs. 2019 Mazda 3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Golf 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 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 lane departure warning systems and rear parking sensors.

Warranty

The Golf 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’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’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.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

Golf

FWD

Manual

1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

29 city/37 hwy

Auto

1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

29 city/37 hwy

Mazda3 Hatchback

FWD

Manual

2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

25 city/35 hwy

Auto

2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

26 city/35 hwy

AWD

Auto

2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

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

MPG

Golf

FWD

Manual

1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

29 city/37 hwy

Auto

1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

29 city/37 hwy

Mazda3 Sedan

FWD

Auto

Premier 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

27 city/36 hwy

2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

26 city/35 hwy

AWD

Auto

2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

25 city/33 hwy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Golf Auto’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Mazda 3 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is optional on the Volkswagen Golf, 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’s standard brake rotors are larger than those on the Mazda 3:

Golf

3

Front Rotors

11.3 inches

11.02 inches

Rear Rotors

10.7 inches

10.43 inches

The Golf stops shorter than the Mazda 3:

Golf

Mazda 3

70 to 0 MPH

163 feet

164 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Golf SE’s optional 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 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 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.

Chassis

The Golf is 8 inches shorter than the Mazda 3 Sedan, making the Golf easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Golf has .4 inches more front headroom, .2 inches more front shoulder room, .8 inches more rear headroom, .5 inches more rear legroom and .4 inches more rear shoulder room than the Mazda 3 Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The Golf has a much larger trunk with its rear seat up than the Mazda 3 Hatchback with its rear seat up (22.8 vs. 20.1 cubic feet).

The Golf has a much larger trunk with its rear seat up than the Mazda 3 Sedan (22.8 vs. 13.2 cubic feet).

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the Golf’s hatch uses gas-strut supported hinges that don’t intrude into the cargo area. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Mazda 3 Sedan’s useful trunk space.

Servicing Ease

The Golf 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 and the Mazda 3 have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Golf 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 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows with the driver’s door power window switch. The driver of the Mazda 3 can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Golf’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 and the Mazda 3 offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Golf 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 SE/SEL’s optional Parking Steering Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Mazda 3 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

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

Consumer Reports® recommends the Volkswagen Golf, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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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