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?
Click on the links above to read each review, then read on here for our verdict.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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%|
|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)|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||177/104g/km/16%||182/138g/km/23%|
|Auto lights/xenons/metallic paint||Yes/yes/£540||Yes/no/£535|
|Park sens front/rear/split/fold seats||Yes/yes/yes||£465^/£465^/yes|