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Car group tests

Mazda 3 Fastback vs Volkswagen Jetta

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

Mazda 3 Fastback vs 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?

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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

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 NavVolkswagen 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/cost24/£340/B/£2017/£317/E/£130
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£499 (3yrs/37,500)£299 (3yrs)
   
Length/wheelbase4,585/2,700mm4,644/2,651mm
Height/width1,450/1,795mm1,482/1,778mm
Engine4cyl in-line/2,191cc4cyl in-line/1,968cc
Peak power148/4,500 bhp/rpm138/4,200 bhp/rpm
Peak torque380/1,800 Nm/rpm320/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd man/fwd6-spd DSG/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel51 litres/space saver55 litres/space saver
Boot capacity419 litres510 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,383/452kg/1,500kg1,441/604kg/1,500kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.3 metres/0.26Cd11.1 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/3yr3yrs (60,000)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealers12,500 (1yr)/107Variable/223
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.8th/17th*19th/25th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars93/86/65/594/86/56/5
   
0-60/30-70mph8.2/8.2 secs9.1/10.6 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th3.2/5.0 secs3.6/5.0 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th6.5/9.1 secs7.6/9.9 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph132mph/1,800rpm129mph/2,000rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph51.8/38.4/9.6m49.0/35.8/9.4m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph66/44/63/72dB71/47/64/70dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range42.8/9.5/480 miles41.6/9.2/503 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined72.4/80.7/60.1mpg42.2/62.8/53.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined15.9/17.7/13.2mpl9.3/13.8/11.7mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket177/104g/km/16%182/138g/km/23%
   
Airbags/Isofix/cruise controlSix/yes/yesSix/yes/yes
Auto lights/xenons/metallic paintYes/yes/£540Yes/no/£535
Leather/heated/electric seats£1,200^/yes/£1,200^£1,925^/£390^/£2,330
Park sens front/rear/split/fold seatsYes/yes/yes£465^/£465^/yes
Sat-nav/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/no/yes£910/yes/yes
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