2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan vs. 2019 Mazda 6

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 3 Series Sedan’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The 3 Series Sedan offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Compared to metal, the 3 Series Sedan’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mazda 6 has a metal gas tank.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the Mazda 6 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the 3 Series Sedan its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Mazda 6 has not been fully tested, yet.

Warranty

The 3 Series Sedan comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The 6’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The 3 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Mazda 6’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mazda doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the 6.

Reliability

The battery on the 3 Series Sedan is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 3 Series Sedan’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Mazda 6’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 37 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 21st.

Engine

The 330i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 68 more horsepower (255 vs. 187) and 109 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 186) than the Mazda 6’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cyl. The 330i’s 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 5 more horsepower (255 vs. 250) than the Mazda 6 Grand Touring/Signature’s standard 2.5 turbo 4-cyl. The M340i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6-cyl. produces 132 more horsepower (382 vs. 250) and 59 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 310) than the Mazda 6 Grand Touring/Signature’s standard 2.5 turbo 4-cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the 330i is faster than the Mazda 6:

3 Series

6 4-cyl.

Mazda 6 Turbo

Zero to 30 MPH

1.9 sec

2.6 sec

n/a

Zero to 60 MPH

5.2 sec

7.3 sec

6.4 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

13.9 sec

20.9 sec

16 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.4 sec

7.5 sec

6.7 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.2 sec

3.6 sec

n/a

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

3.9 sec

4.8 sec

n/a

Quarter Mile

13.9 sec

15.8 sec

14.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100 MPH

89 MPH

97 MPH

Top Speed

156 MPH

135 MPH

149 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 3 Series Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the Mazda6:

MPG

3 Series Sedan

RWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

26 city/36 hwy

AWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

Mazda6

FWD

2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

26 city/35 hwy

2.5 turbo 4-cyl.

23 city/31 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the 3 Series Sedan’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 6 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW 3 Series Sedan, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Mazda 6.

The 3 Series Sedan’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 3 Series Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Mazda 6:

330i

M340i

Mazda 6

Mazda 6 Turbo

Front Rotors

13 inches

13.7 inches

11.7 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

13.6 inches

10.9 inches

10.9 inches

The 3 Series Sedan’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Mazda 6 are solid, not vented.

The 3 Series Sedan stops much shorter than the Mazda 6:

3 Series

Mazda 6

70 to 0 MPH

165 feet

184 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

The 330i’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Mazda 6 Sport’s standard 55 series tires. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 225/35R20 front and 255/30R20 rear tires have a lower 35 series front and 30 series rear profile than the Mazda 6 Touring/Grand Touring/Signature’s 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 330i has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Mazda 6 Sport. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels on the Mazda 6 Touring/Grand Touring/Signature.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Mazda 6’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The 330i xDrive handles at .89 G’s, while the Mazda 6 Signature pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The 3 Series Sedan is 7 inches shorter than the Mazda 6, making the 3 Series Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the BMW 3 Series Sedan amounts to more than styling. The 3 Series Sedan has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .26 Cd. That is lower than the Mazda 6 (.285) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the 3 Series Sedan get better fuel mileage.

The front grille of the 3 Series Sedan uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The 3 Series Sedan has .3 inches more front headroom, .1 inches more front shoulder room and .5 inches more rear headroom than the Mazda 6.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the 3 Series Sedan easier. The 3 Series Sedan’s trunk lift-over height is 26.7 inches, while the Mazda 6’s liftover is 28.5 inches.

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the 3 Series offers cargo security. The Mazda 6’s non-lockable remote release defeats cargo security.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the 3 Series Sedan. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the 3 Series Sedan offers an optional power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or optionally by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer a power trunk.

Servicing Ease

The 3 Series Sedan uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Mazda 6 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.

The engine in the 3 Series Sedan is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Mazda 6. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the 3 Series Sedan and the Mazda 6 have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the 3 Series Sedan is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Mazda 6 prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

If the windows are left open on the 3 Series Sedan the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Mazda 6 can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The 3 Series Sedan’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Mazda only offers heated mirrors on the Mazda 6 Grand Touring/Signature.

When the 3 Series Sedan is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Mazda 6’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the Mazda 6 offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the 3 Series Sedan has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional Parking Assistant Plus can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The BMW 3 Series comes in sedan, four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Mazda 6 isn’t available as a four door hatchback or station wagon.

Recommendations

The BMW 3 Series outsold the Mazda 6 by 44% during 2018.

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

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