Mazda 3 Fastback vs Volkswagen Jetta

Mazda 3 Fastback vs VW JEtta
2 Jul, 2014 1:04pm

Do four-door versions of our favourite hatchbacks have the same appeal? We compare new Mazda 3 Fastback with VW Jetta

British drivers love hatchbacks, but is it time for small saloons to take the spotlight? There’s certainly more choice than ever, and newcomers from Mercedes and Audi showcase the four-door’s premium appeal.

That’s something Mazda is hoping to build on. The hatchback 3 has proven a hit with its efficient SkyActiv technology and stylish looks, so is the new Fastback – which features a sleeker shape and a bigger boot – a winner, too?

To find out, we’ve pitted it against the Volkswagen Jetta. A Golf with a boot or a junior Passat? Whichever way you look at it, the Jetta is a solid choice. So which of these compact saloons is good enough to put the boot into the hatch class?

Mazda 3 Fastback review

Volkswagen Jetta review

Click on the links above to read each review, then read on here for our verdict.

Head-to-head

Practicality

The Fastback’s 419-litre boot is 55 litres bigger than the hatch’s, while the 510-litre Jetta has an extra 130 litres over the Golf.

From the distance between the bootlid and floor, the Mazda has 51cm compared to the VW’s 58cm. Both models have 103cm-wide boots, while the Jetta offers an extra 9cm of length over the 3. Folding rear seats are standard on both cars, and load lengths stand at 193cm and 176cm respectively.

Production

Due to its popularity in North America, the Jetta is manufactured in Mexico. Mazda opened a new factory in the same country earlier this year to build left-hand-drive 3s. UK versions of the 3 are still made in Japan alongside domestic right-hand-drive models, badged as the Axela in their home market.

Proportions

With a shorter body and longer wheelbase than the Jetta, the 3 Fastback has smaller overhangs and a more stylish shape. The VW’s three-box profile goes against the trend for coupé-inspired saloons like the Mercedes CLA.

Verdict

1st place: Mazda 3 Fastback

Mazda 3 Fastback static

An identically priced and stylish alternative to the hatch, the new Fastback is cheaper, cleaner and better looking than the Jetta. The fact it’s got a bigger boot and emits less CO2 than the Mazda 3 hatch will be enough to convince lots of buyers to choose this classy saloon.

2nd place: Volkswagen Jetta

In isolation, the Jetta is a capable and composed compact saloon. It’s not as eye-catching as the Mazda, but the VW is handsome, well finished and spacious. However, it’s hobbled by its higher running costs, lower kit count and uninspiring driving dynamics.

Figures

Mazda 3 Fastback 2.2 Sport Nav Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 TDI Sport DSG
On-the-road price/total as tested £22,145/£24,705 £23,640/£27,800
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000) £9,434/42.6% £9,480/40.1%
Depreciation £12,711 £14,160
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £707/£1,414 £1,079/£2,158
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £1,733/£2,889 £1,783/£2,972
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost 24/£340/B/£20 17/£317/E/£130
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service £499 (3yrs/37,500) £299 (3yrs)
Length/wheelbase 4,585/2,700mm 4,644/2,651mm
Height/width 1,450/1,795mm 1,482/1,778mm
Engine 4cyl in-line/2,191cc 4cyl in-line/1,968cc
Peak power 148/4,500 bhp/rpm 138/4,200 bhp/rpm
Peak torque 380/1,800 Nm/rpm 320/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/fwd 6-spd DSG/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 51 litres/space saver 55 litres/space saver
Boot capacity 419 litres 510 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight 1,383/452kg/1,500kg 1,441/604kg/1,500kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient 11.3 metres/0.26Cd 11.1 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (60,000)/3yr 3yrs (60,000)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealers 12,500 (1yr)/107 Variable/223
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 8th/17th* 19th/25th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars 93/86/65/5 94/86/56/5
0-60/30-70mph 8.2/8.2 secs 9.1/10.6 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 3.2/5.0 secs 3.6/5.0 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th 6.5/9.1 secs 7.6/9.9 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 132mph/1,800rpm 129mph/2,000rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 51.8/38.4/9.6m 49.0/35.8/9.4m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph 66/44/63/72dB 71/47/64/70dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range 42.8/9.5/480 miles 41.6/9.2/503 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 72.4/80.7/60.1mpg 42.2/62.8/53.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 15.9/17.7/13.2mpl 9.3/13.8/11.7mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 177/104g/km/16% 182/138g/km/23%
Airbags/Isofix/cruise control Six/yes/yes Six/yes/yes
Auto lights/xenons/metallic paint Yes/yes/£540 Yes/no/£535
Leather/heated/electric seats £1,200^/yes/£1,200^ £1,925^/£390^/£2,330
Park sens front/rear/split/fold seats Yes/yes/yes £465^/£465^/yes
Sat-nav/DAB radio/Bluetooth Yes/no/yes £910/yes/yes

Disqus - noscript

Mazda beats VW? Did I read that right??? And they actually measured the boot dimensions instead of merely quoting misleading brochure capacities. Wow.

Coming from a former B5 Passat owner, Mazda is the closest in handling and ride, compared to German cars. I can attest to this, from owning a 2014 GJ Mazda6/Atenza Touring 2.5L 6sp MT. A wonderful and very fun-to-drive car. It has great styling, nimble sporty handling..but the best part of my ownership, the fuel economy. It gets 37mpg combined, for my 65%fwy/35%city Los Angeles real world driving (aggressive, spirited fwy drives, up to 85-95mph speed bursts). A lot more reliable than my former VW. Mazda, as many call it, is the "Japanese BMW".

I am not surprised at all, by the verdict of this Mazda 3 Fastback vs Volkswagen Jetta comparo.

If this Mazda beats a VW it must be a least twice as good as the Jetta in reality. And it probably is because AE didn't even mention the Mazda's enormous performance advantage, much lower noise levels and extra kit ;-)

This result is obviously a mistake and the person responsible will inevitably be fired from VAG express LOL.

Not sure being called a "Japanese BMW" is actually a compliment... after all, BMW is just the "German Ford" albeit one that charges a premium for a small blue and white badge :-)

Totally agree.

HTG, the Japanese BMW moniker mostly refers to, is the handling and steering aspects of Mazda cars. Try finding that in other "mainstream" Japanese non-premium brand.

Nah, the Jetta will probably be updated soon so the normal order can and will be restored. No damage done to VW ;-)

I´LL TAKE THE MAZDA BY FAR! IT´S MORE RELIABLE, MORE ATTRACTIVE AND HAS MORE CLASS! THE JETTA´S UGLY AND OVERPRICED!

Its shame that small saloons arent popular in UK, as result many arent offered in UK such as Corolla, Hyundai Elantra or Lantra...and the Civic i think they are better looking than the hatchback counterpart, if you go Eastern Europe and Ireland small saloons are quite popular, here we are lumbered with same looking hatchbacks and worse still suv's ! Yawn !

I would like to see the Fastback Mazda with a hatchback, if you know what I mean.

Like the original?

Is this the first ever defeat for VW? What about the "premium" image, that's worth a few extra points surely? I agree with others, for Mazda to win the Jetta must be a real dog.

Which car has the fun-to-drive, fuel economy and reliability all rolled into one...the Mazda, is the no brainer.

On the 3rd aspect (reliability)...that is one that VW can NEVER ever solve and figure out.

AEX 1334
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