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Subaru Impreza, Mazda MAZDA3
#21 of 41 Go with the 3
Nov 03, 2004 (8:59 am)
I test drove the Impreza Wagon WRX and the Mazda3 hatchback a number of times.... I bought the Mazda3. This wasnt even a close decision. I was shocked that the Impreza with 227 HP was no quicker driving around town than the 160 HP Mazda! The Subaru salesman kept telling me that I needed to get the car up to redline to really appreciate its power. Sorry, but driving a car at redline to appreciate what it can do will leave you unfullfilled 99% of the time. The Subie also felt heavy and seemed rough & unrefined...... sorry Subie owners.
Now on the other hand, the Mazda 3 with a 5-speed is a joy to drive around town, and for some reason, the 2005 I purchased seems much quicker and "throatier" than the two previous 3's that I had tested. I guess all cars are not created equal, or else I got one on steroids. So for $19,000 I got a great handling, terrific looking, quite quick Mazda hatchback that can carry a ton of stuff with the rear seat down, and get 32 MPG on the highway. And the titanium gray paint job is to die for. Now whats not to like about that!
Nov 03, 2004 (9:10 am)
Off boost, sure. It has more displacement and a higher compression ratio.
0-60 is not even in the same league, though, when you open it up. WRX is in the 5s.
The turbo reaches peak torque by 4000 rpm, boost starts building so by 3000rpm it'll begin to show an advantage over Mazda's 2.3l and then build a wide margin from that point on.
You don't have to redline it to see the advantage.
Any how, a more comparable car would have been the Outback Sport or the Impreza RS, not WRX. You get a 2.5l engine with plenty of low-end torque, no waiting. The extra HP compared to the Mazda is offset by the extra drag AWD creates, but 0-60 should be in the 7s for both.
Those cars are also priced a lot lower, probably even less than you paid.
The 3 is a fine car and should stand up nicely based on its own merits, though.
#23 of 41 Re: Go with the 3 [oldman32]
Nov 09, 2004 (9:17 am)
Great post - these were my sentiments exactly back in April when I chose my 04 3 hatch. I haven't driven in anyhitng else lately that comes close to the feel and response (engine and suspension) of the 3. It's tight, silky smooth, and superbly designed in every way - no let downs inside or out....and you gotta love the lights at night inside....great car...and the engine breaks in around 10k - even silkier now.....have fun!
Nov 15, 2004 (7:35 am)
i've also been closely comparing these two rides (impreza RS and mazda 3) for purchase in the near future. the 3's interior is miles ahead of the subie, in terms of room and comfort as well as the fit and finish. these cars are very similar in size, but i somehow found both the back seat and the front seat much roomier and more comfortable in the 3 compared to the cramped impreza (i'm 6'1 with long legs). that said, the only thing i dislike about the 3's interior are the 3 plastic "pods" that house the guages - i found them to be really flimsy-looking and i could see myself tearing them off while sitting in traffic one day. small complaint, agreed. otherwise, however, i felt that the impreza had the 3 beat with what felt like a more powerful motor (even though hp is supposed to be the same) and slightly tighter handling. another strike against the 3 is that up here in montreal it is easily the most popular new car, and there are tons of them, whereas the impreza still has a bit of exclusivity, if that sort of thing matters. factor in the impreza's awd and it should be a no-brainer for me, but i still go back to the 3's great, roomier interior and good steering feel, so it remains something of a toss-up.
Nov 15, 2004 (8:35 am)
Going hand-in-hand with the 3 being quite popular are relatively high financing and particularly leasing rates from Mazda Canada at the moment. Could be a factor, depending on your situation.
Nov 16, 2004 (8:56 am)
no doubt that is something to consider with the 3, cbmorton, although i'd hope that buying the car in the dead of winter (traditionally a soft sales period for dealers) might offset some of the price gouging.
Nov 16, 2004 (9:11 am)
It was funny but when they had just come out the 2.3l models cost more than the base 6i did.
I think prices have settled now.
#28 of 41 Both good cars - hard to go wrong.
Nov 18, 2004 (12:09 pm)
The Impreza RS Wagon and Mazda3 were both on my list recently. I went with the Mazda3.
Mazda6s had a good comment: if you want/need AWD, then the comparison is moot, the Subaru is the only way to go. Unless you routinely drive offroad in the back of beyond, the Subaru is a superior choice to most any SUV if you want AWD.
Relative to the Mazda3 I think the Subaru had marginally better visibility, better cargo space, a roof rack and excellent ergonomics. Drawbacks included a very grabby clutch, noisy powertrain, and poor mileage.
The Mazda was the hands-down winner for quiet and comfort. Get them both on the highway at 100 km/h and the predominant noise in the Mazda is the road and the radio whereas in the Subaru the engine drowns out almost everything. The Mazda also holds the edge in economy, with about 20% better mileage ratings. Drawbacks to the Mazda are smaller trunk/hatch (than a Subaru wagon, anyway), eye-straining red gauges, and inferior visibility.
I found rear seat accomodations in the two vehicles to be more-or less equivalent. The Mazda is better for two with more deeply countoured seating, but the Subaru had the edge in seatbelt placement and with three occupants. In front, the Mazda actually feels a little less roomy to me because of the very wide center stack. It was easy to get comfortable though with the telescoping adjustement on the steering wheel. All the controls are placed just right in the Mazda so they're easy to reach and easy to read. No complaints with the Impreza, I just felt the Mazda was better.
In driving, the Mazda3 was easily the more tossable of the two, but it also had a slightly stiffer ride, basically a case of you give a little, you get a little.
A note about red gauges. Lots of people, including those in the car journalism business, seem to think that red is a good color for gauges. I couldn't disagree more. If you've seen the lavender colour used in a Passat or the blue colour in a 1998 Windstar, then you'd have a better idea of what colour gauges should be. I don't care how sporty you may think red is - try driving for twelve hours straight after dark and then tell me how cool the red looks. That said, the red colour wasn't enough to stop me from buying a Mazda3 and, although I'll never love the red, you do get used to it.
The Subaru should win in the bad weather, but more important than the AWD is a good set of rubber. AWD is of limited value if you don't have good contact with the road. I'll find out the wisdom (or lack thereof) of that statement when the winter weather arrives.
Ultimately, the noise and the mileage are what disqualified the Subaru for me. If the mileage had been comparable to what I could expect from the Mazda3, then it would have been a much tougher decision. It just comes down to my not wanting to pay the gas premium 365 days a year for the added security the AWD would deliver on the half dozen days a year when it really matters.
As for the WRX, the insurance cost would be the killer there! The Mazda3 and Impreza were similarly weighted, but the WRX is in a league beyond them.
My thoughts (and lots of them). Your mileage my vary.
Nov 18, 2004 (1:03 pm)
The MazdaSpeed version of the 6 will get AWD, so perhaps this feature will come to future versions of the 3?
Imagine that 276hp turbo 2.3l with AWD coupled to the lighter 3...mmmm.
I'm surprised that Mazda chose the bigger 6 to go EVO and STi hunting, actually. The 3 might have been a better choice.
Nov 19, 2004 (7:18 am)
great post, crowcanada - lots of food for thought. while i won't be driving through blizzard conditions 365 days a year (though montreal can get pretty gnarly), i am curious enough about the awd experience that i'd like to own a car with it at least once. i'm surprised you found the handling to be noticeably tighter in the mazda, as i found the subaru RS to be just as tossable and nimble as the 3, if not more so. the guages in the mazda didn't bother me too much, but you're right, you always hear journalists raving about the bmw and older audi red guages, but i couldn't think of a more unpleasant color to have shining in front of me over a prolonged period.