As the price of fuel continues its meteoric rise, consumers are once again putting fuel economy at the top of their list when it comes to must-haves in a new car. So it should come as no surprise that the compact market is booming, with two favorites being the MAZDA3 and the Toyota Corolla. But how do these two popular fuel misers perform when pitted head to head?
There are many areas where both the Mazda and Toyota perform well; namely practicality, fuel efficiency, reliability, safety and strong build quality. But when you dig beneath the surface, there is a clear winner in this comparison – especially if you’re a driving enthusiast.
In today’s highly competitive compact segment, manufacturing a practical, reliable and safe car will do nothing to guarantee you a vehicle that will disappear off the dealership lot. There are many details which also must be present to make it a car worth buying.
Take for instance the MAZDA3, a car that not only delivers reliability, practicality, and safety, but also delivers the most engaging driving experience, sporty styling and luxurious interior of any compact – areas where the Corolla completely falls short.
Mazda offers a choice of a 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder cranking out 148 hp or a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder with an impressive 167 hp.Both models offer five-speed automatics and manual gearboxes and the MAZDA3’s with the 2.5 liter offers a six-speed manual (not found on any Corolla).
When it comes to horsepower, the Corolla can’t compete. The only powerplant available in the Corolla is the 1.8-liter inline-four producing a paltry 132 horsepower and transmissions come in at only four speeds for the automatic and five speeds for the manual.
With such a disparity in power, you’d think that the Corolla would be that much more fuel efficient than the Mazda, but it isn’t. The Mazda’s 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway is nearly identical to the Corolla’s figures at 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway.
On the backroads, the competition is over before it even begins. The MAZDA3 is not only a far better handling car than the Corolla, but its arguably the most athletic and engaging of all compacts sold today. The MAZDA3’s handling captures what Mazda engineers do best; designing cars that put a smile on your face with every curve in the road.
Not only does the MAZDA3 offer a superior balance of power, handling and efficiency, but it also far outshines the Corolla when it comes to interior and exterior design. Quite simply, the Corolla’s vanilla styling blends into a sea of cars with complete anonymity, whereas the MAZDA3’s exterior and vibrant color choices stand out with tasteful authority.
And just as tasteful and vibrant as the exterior, the MAZDA3’s interior perfectly balances luxury with sportiness while delivering unparalleled build quality. And although the Corolla offers Toyota’s legendary build quality, the interior is just as bland and uninspired as the exterior.
The goal of a well-designed interior is that once you arrive at your destination, you’re reluctant to leave its comfort and opulence; something the MAZDA3 executes with perfection. With the Corolla, its more of a general indifference. Plus the MAZDA3 offers occupants more passenger volume which translates to more front and rear headroom and hiproom.
From available leather seating with color-stitched accents to high-grade interior plastics and sporty gauges illuminated in red, in the MAZDA3 you’d swear you were driving a car that costs far more than its base MSRP of $15,800. Even when outfitted with every option, the Corolla still feels like a basic compact car designed for nothing more than the daily commute.
The Mazda’s interior isn’t just better than the Corolla, it’s also more equipped. The MAZDA3s in Grand Touring trim includes luxury features like Bluetooth integration, Bose audio system, navigation, satellite radio, sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, automatic and adaptive bi-xenon headlights, LED taillights and keyless ignition/entry.
Fully loaded with nearly every single option, the MAZDA3 still comes in at an MSRP below $26,000, making it by far the absolute best value of any compact car available today.
On the safety front, the Mazda yet again outshines the Corolla, most notably with its braking system. Every MAZDA3 comes standard with four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, but the Corolla still uses the same rear drum brake design considered archaic for modern compact cars. As a result, the MAZDA3 can brake to a stop from 60 mph in 119 feet; eight feet sooner than the Corolla’s 127 feet.
In the NHTSA government impact tests, the MAZDA3 earned the highest rating of five stars in frontal impact protection for both driver and passenger. In side impact testing, it scored five stars for the front passengers and four stars for the rear. These results outperformed the Corolla’s four-star frontal impact result.
There are a plethora of options in the world of compact cars, but there is no car that can balance practicality, performance, efficiency, luxury, safety and value better than the MAZDA3. It does everything exceptionally well, making the MAZDA3 a true renaissance car. See for yourself by stopping in today for a test drive of the 2011 MAZDA3.