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viernes, septiembre 22, 2023
HomeCarsWhy The Mazda 3 Is Leagues Ahead Of The VW Golf GTi

Why The Mazda 3 Is Leagues Ahead Of The VW Golf GTi

When the GTI first arrived on U.S. shores as the Rabbit GTi in 1982, it was peerless. Rival manufacturers were left scrambling to produce anything remotely quick in such a compact yet practical package, let alone introducing that game-changing tech, fuel injection, to their line-up. Such was the avant-garde nature of the original GTi.

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40 years on, consumers can purchase faster models, ones with more boot space, or with more upmarket badges. But the VW Golf GTi has remained a firm favorite among its customers due to its discreet, sensible, well-rounded nature. All that is about to change now, with a smaller manufacturer from Hiroshima, Japan making strides deep into VW’s territory with the Mazda 3.


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The Biggest Reasons You Buy A Hot Hatch: Performance And Practicality

Mazda 3 Turbo vs Golf Gti
Mazda and VW

A comparison of 3/4 front shots of a Mazda 3 Turbo and a VW Golf Gti

A hot hatch that cannot embarrass a purpose-built sports car is not a hot hatch at all. To this effect, both the Mazda and the VW clock the 0-60 run in 5.4 and 5.1 seconds, respectively. They are closely matched on horsepower figures too, at 241 horsepower for the VW and 250 for the Mazda.

But what truly sets the two apart and appeals to the sensible clientele of this part of the segment, is the almost 20 percent extra torque the Mazda offers at 320 pound-feet. This makes Mazda much quicker in real-world situations without having to rev as high as the VW. That paired with the standard AWD option of the Mazda makes it a quicker car with performance accessible in any weather condition.

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Despite the extra grunt, driving two additional wheels, and having a higher curb weight the Mazda still achieves 23 MPG in the city and 31 on the highway. The lighter VW does marginally better at 24 MPG in the city and 34 MPG on the highway respectively.

The Mazda rides on 215 mm wide tires with a 45 aspect ratio mounted to 18-inch alloy wheels. Although the numbers suggest it is under-tired for the amount of power transferred through them, especially compared to the 225/40s on the VW, narrower rubber offers superior feedback and reaches its limits of grip much earlier. This helps the less experienced drivers to intervene at safer speeds.

Specs And Performance


Mazda3 Turbo


241 bhp

250 bhp


270 lb-ft.

320 lb-ft.


5.1 secs

5.4 secs

1/4 Mile

13.8 secs

14.0 secs

Top Speed

155 mph

130 mph (limited)

MPG City



MPG Highway



Trunk Capacity



Rear Leg Room



Rear Headroom



Tire Size



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Moving Firmly Into GT Territory: Comfort And Drivability

The GT in GTi stands for Grand Touring, which harks back to a pre-war era of motoring when a type of car was specifically built for two or more passengers to effortlessly cover swathes of continental land rapidly in great comfort. Although it is debatable whether the original Rabbit GTI offered such comfort and speed by the standards of the day, modern hot hatches are certainly moving into luxury car territory in terms of refinement and effortless cruising.

The German car makes no qualms about its reputation for comfort and quality with its no-nonsense interior. The Mazda, however, ups the game with its much more premium interior, especially with the burgundy trim. Like the VW, the Mazda offers a clean driver interface with an even more user-friendly infotainment system. It appears Mazda Engineers have spent a considerably long time getting the buttons and knobs to feel similar to touch when operating, which does a great deal to elevate the upmarket feel of the car.

The door cards on the Mazda no longer house the mid-range speakers, with the engineers’ logic being, they act as openings for outside noise to enter the cabin. The bigger front speakers are now mounted on the lower dash. With this move and other efforts in refinement combined, the Mazda manages to be marginally quieter with 70 decibels at 70 MPH, while the VW was one decibel louder in the same test.

One area the Mazda is trumped by the VW is trunk space. The Mazda has 11.8 cubic feet of space with the seats up and 38 with them folded, while the VW offers 13.4 and 43.7 cubic feet respectively, no doubt helped by the more upright stature. The slanted and more purposeful-looking Mazda 3 still manages to offer similar rear seat space to the VW, with just a few eighths of an inch apart.

Top features of the Golf GTi

  • Adaptive front lighting system (AFS) with dynamic cornering lights
  • Multicolored adjustable ambient lighting
  • Limited slip differential
  • Forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist monitoring
  • Travel assist, lane assist, and emergency assist

Top features of the Mazda 3 Turbo

  • Adaptive front lighting system
  • High beam control
  • Radar cruise control with stop and go
  • Driver attention alert
  • Rear cross-traffic alert with smart brake support
  • Burgundy leatherette trimmed seats
  • Interior lighting kit (Optional)

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Outsmarting The Golf GTi At Its Own Game: Prudence

It used to be an easy choice when a consumer wanted a quick, practical hatchback with a premium car aura and restrained good looks that didn’t attract the wrong kind of attention. But Mazda has been slowly honing its 3 over the past generations to catch up with GTi on those fronts and quietly surpass it.

The Kodo design language first introduced in 2010 has slowly evolved into the organic shape the Mazda 3 exhibits today. Upon closer inspection, it can be seen the depth of the style and effort put into making the Mazda 3 probably the best-looking hot hatch on sale today. In comparison, the VW, which is a result of the continual gentle evolution of its Giugiaro-styled original, looks positively staid.

Mazda’s unconventional approach to building cars with investments in rotary technology and high compression Skyactiv engines, and its reputation for class-leading sports cars with the likes of the Miata, has certainly earned it some of the most loyal customers in the industry, rivaling that of Volkswagen.


VW Golf GTi



40th Anniversary Edition






Mazda 3 Turbo

Premium Plus

$36,650 (2024 Model Year)

As with most Japanese cars, Mazda 3 has a higher reputation for reliability compared to the Golf. J.D. Power survey further reveals that owners are more satisfied with the dealership experience of their Mazda 3’s compared to that of the VW.

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Mazda 3: Flawed But Leagues Ahead Of The VW GTi

Mazda3-20-1 (1)-1

A front 3/4 shot of the 2023 Mazda 3 Turbo

Mazda 3 has matured over the years to match and better the restrained good looks, no-nonsense functionality, and discreet sports car-like performance of the Golf GTi. Like the GTi, it strikes that perfect balance of inoffensive looks with performance. The Mazda could do with one or two extra gears, a manual transmission option for the enthusiasts, and a bit more trunk space.

The return to torsion beam suspension, although it has little to no effect on the day-to-day driving experience, is questionable. But the added security of the AWD system justifies the extra weight, fuel consumption, and the slightly less spacious trunk that accompanies it.

The independent nature of Mazda as an organization is reflected in its cars. While VW has been building its cars so as not to compete with its more premium products, Mazda has taken inspiration from more upmarket marques from Germany in designing the Mazda 3 and offers the same levels of aura and tactility at a much lower price point.

This unparalleled attention to detail given to the Mazda 3 makes it a truly remarkable package. One that feels like several classes above its price bracket, stylish and sporty without being ostentatious, while offering the grunt of an engine twice as big. The Mazda not only beats the Golf GTi, but it also leaves the VW leagues behind.

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