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Hatchbacks are a tough sell in America, but a swath of the population still appreciates the added practicality a fifth door brings. For those few and proud who don't care for sedan styling, there are some spectacular, budget-minded options and topping the list are the Mazda3 hatchback and Hyundai Elantra GT.

Both cars are fuel efficient, practical choices that merit consideration. And while they might seem remarkably similar on paper, a little time behind the wheel proves otherwise.

Despite having its Skyactiv engine line, the 2012 Mazda3 keeps much of its “zoom-zoom” spirit while forgoing much of the fancier feature feeling Hyundai strives for.


The Mazda has a more powerful engine with 155 hp compared to 148 for the Hyundai, but strangely it doesn't feel that way around town. In fact, the Elantra will fool you into seeming like the more powerful of the two. Much of the reason for this is the Hyundai’s touchy throttle, meaning it wants to lurch forward at the slightest touch, though lacks any real power beyond that. The Mazda is the opposite and begs to be strung out in order to have any fun.

In every other way, the Mazda feels better. It's more nimble. Step on the gas pedal and you'll see the tach leap to meet a downshift. And those shifts feel buttery smooth next to the Hyundai's imprecise gearbox. Grinding gears is darn near impossible in the Mazda, which isn't the case with the Hyundai.
Read the full 2013 Mazda3 Hatchback VS 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT comparison at AutoGuide.com.
 

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Cabin ergonomics are great in my opinion, everything is easy to reach at just about any seating position.
 

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and mazda car paint sucks
 

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I test drove the Elantra GT. The interior felt more spacious and comfortable. I would imagine it would be the better car for a long highway roadtrip. The dashboard, doors and steering wheel seem much more high quality in the Elantra GT. However the Mazda3 is clearly the better car for the way I drive and was the one I chose to buy. The worst quality of the Elantra GT was that it felt like it had much less power than the Mazda3.
 
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