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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My wife and I are trying to decide on a new car for her and it's come down to the GTI or the Mazda 3. I really like the MAZDA 3... It handles well, has a great MT, has great practicality in hatch form, and is an all around great package and fun for the money.

But, I keep going back to the GTI, yeah the shifter isn't quite as good, nor is the gas mileage, but they're both pretty close. However, the interior is a step up, it also handles really well. Then there's the power factor, the GTI is quite a bit quicker and has noticeably more torque.

This will most likely be a lease, so long term reliability and resale isn't a concern.

For those not aware, GTI S can be had from close to 22k new and an SE can be had for 25-26k. With the crazy discounts the MKV is a pretty compelling option and is landing around around the price of a nicely optioned M3GT

So, for those of you that shopped the Mazda 3 with a MK4 GTI, what made you go with the GTI?

Please don't take this as a troll, really just want to get some owners takes on why they picked the 3 as opposed to the other great and affordable hatch on the market.

Thanks!
 

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Too small and too much money when I looked at them. My A3 is too small and the GTI and A3 are both on the MQB platform. Plus, I bought the 3 to be a cheap DD and with premium gas and more maintenance costs, it wouldn't make much sense.
 

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because from 120km/h onwards i started to pull away from the GTI..
 

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Because, Volkswagen? LOL

Seriously, I am coming from a 2003 Jetta 1.8t. Loved the way it drove, LOVED! the torque. Pulls in any gear from any speed. I'm having difficulty in my 2.0L Mazda because I'm so use to just pushing the throttle halfway down and picking up speed no matter what gear I'm in. In the right lane and need to get into the left lane with 15 mph faster traffic and a small hole? Just give the throttle a blip and you're in. Give the throttle a blip in the Mazda 2.0 in 5th or 6th gear and it does nothing.

Then there's the weirdness of the electrical gremlins of VW. Don't have any appendages in the half down window area when you want to go full down. You never know upon pressing down on the button if the window will go up or down. Stuff like that.

Regular common maintenance that you will do several times in the lifetime of a VW isn't bad costwise. Brakes, struts/shocks, stuff like that. I've also had to do many wheel bearings which the back wasn't too expensive but the front was. I drive my cars up to 150-200,000 miles and I've never replaced a wheel bearing in about 10 cars over 30 years until the VW.

Drive them as long as I do and the other long term maintenance items do get expensive. Ball joints, tie rods, bushings, axles, stuff like that.

I did love that Jetta due to the turbo, but wouldn't buy another VW. As for the Mazda, it's a great little economy car, I paid $17,583 for my iSport. For the price of the GT or sGT models, there are a lot better options in my opinion. There's no way I would pay $25k for an sGT with the 2.5 when I could get a Focus ST for $23k or a WRX for $26k. Then again, I am definitely performance oriented when I look at cars. After having experience with the 1.8 turbo, I am going to miss that a LOT.
 

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So I've driven the 2.0 and 2.5. Definitely a huge fan of the 2.5. Has very nice pickup on the highway and really just good response all the way around.

For me, I think it boils down to the new styling, quality, and direction Mazda is going. I honestly want to be a part of that. I'm excited to see what Mazda continues to do going forward. I was getting my first oil change a few days ago at the dealership and trolled the lot while it was being done. They had 3 new CX-9s on the lot -- I didn't get to take one for a spin (would have loved to have felt that 2.5t), but I did get to sit in the showroom one. Wow, what a beautiful interior. To even think that this is the direction Mazda is taking their cars, I'm proud to say I own one.

Remember when Audi use to be kind of "eh" back in the early and mid-2000s. Then they made an adjustment in direction and people were like, "holy crap." Now when you see an Audi, you associate that with a BMW or Benz-type class. I see Mazda taking that type of direction to a degree. I expect the cost of Mazdas to increase over good time as they continue to concentrate on the quality and new direction of the brand.

So for me, I guess it didn't boil down to, "do I want this or that?" I already knew I wanted a Mazda, I wanted the top end model and I wanted to be part of the larger transformation Mazda is undergoing and feel proud of being loyal to a particular brand.

So there's a sideways answer for you.
 

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Because

A) I test drove a GTI with 14 miles on the clock, and the check engine light started flashing when I did a semi-spirited pull on to the highway
B) Volkswagen is not known for being a bastion of reliability once the warranty runs out
 

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Reliability, known issues with the EA888 and carbon buildup, don't like turbos, looks like a box, VW tried to kill the earth, had Audis and know better, hate my local VW dealers, just a little too sterile.
 

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because from 120km/h onwards i started to pull away from the GTI..
Was it out of gas? Mk7's dyno around 210hp at the wheels, which is about 55 more than a 2.5L 3 with the same weight. One thing a GTI is, even in stock form, is comically faster than our cars.

Listed times to 200 km/h are 21.7 for the GTI and 33.6 for the Mazda 3 S GT.
 

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Was it out of gas? Mk7's dyno around 210hp at the wheels, which is about 55 more than a 2.5L 3 with the same weight. One thing a GTI is, even in stock form, is comically faster than our cars.

Listed times to 200 km/h are 21.7 for the GTI and 33.6 for the Mazda 3 S GT.
well, it was a mk6 gti not a 7. i haven't had the chance with a 7 but i'd love to give it a go and see how it is. mk6's are considerably lower in power than the 7 and are only slightly higher than the astina on power and torque on paper. it was from a rolling start. i would probably not be able to get ahead if it was from the stand still as i still having problems with grip to the tyres.
 

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Is it possible that GTI's are offered with something other than the 2.0T motor where you are? A Mk6 was still 210hp here, and did 0-200kph in 26.9 seconds, which is still 20% quicker than our cars. The 2.5L Mazda is barely quicker than the 170hp Golf, and the torque advantage of the VW's starts to really pile on with speed.

The speed factor was the big argument for the GTI when I was shopping, something the Mazda just can't compare to. Reliability, design and lower cost of ownership were big plusses, but this thing is not a quick car in any measure.
 

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nah. the australian markets carry the same 2.0t engine. i only know for sure that the R engines have been detuned in australia compared to rest of the world because of our summer heat. whether that is the same for the gti, i'm not too sure. but if it is, the numbers will be lower than yours. FWIW, the new rs3 has been detuned by about 20+kws for the australian market.

numbers on papers is one thing but euros have been know to overstate paper figures and jdms are known to understate them. i wouldn't say i would pass him easily on another go but at the end of the day, different pulls; different results. my biggest car argument while shopping was that the mazda highly resembled my previous e90 m3, in terms of weight distribution (long front, short overhang), the low-mid end torque was something of a plus given it's high compression. by no means it's in the mps, wrx(non sti) quick category. but it's quick in terms of where it sits at on par with a GTI Mk6 level.
 

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I really want to own a gti one day, or just venture into vw for that matter. However, there's always their history of shitty reliability in the back of my mind. I have friends who owns vw and almost all had some sort of electrical issues with them. One friend with a 6th gen gti has had his car towed a couple times because he was unable to start the car, forgot what the issue was, and he would get a check engine light every once in a while. Another friend with 2010 golf r would always have some sort of issue with his windows. There are times where he would leave work or home and go to his car to see his sunroof slide fully open and sometimes it will slide or tilt on its while driving on the freeway. They all say the engine is like a tank tho, never had any engine issues, just a lot of hassle with the electrical issues. Back in 2008 when I was buying my previous car, I also looked into getting the then current gti but was still not fully confident in getting one lol

When I saw the gen7 golf announced, I was going to wait and get that car, but it would be over a year before it gets released to the US. I then saw the gen3 mz3 and fell in love with the redesigned look. The golf looks more mature but a bit on the bland side compared to the mz3. The mz3 looks a bit more aggressive without looking too much like a kid's car. A gti would be even nicer with the extra power but the 2.5 feels just fine, especially with sport mode on it really feels quick and lighter on its feet. I went into mazda knowing the ride will be less quiet and suspension less compliant than the golf/gti but I'm okay with it knowing it'll be a trouble free car to drive. Still, I want to own a gti one of these days, always have that itch :D
 

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I have a S touring sedan that I've owned for about 9 months, and if I had to do it over again- I would likely get a 4 door GTI S or a Golf SE. The only worry would be the reliability of the VW (and possibly cost of regular vs. premium gas on the GTI), but if you are leasing, then its not a problem. The 3s is a fantastic car when driven like you would drive a Miata, i.e. with the windows down, sunroof open, and hugging the curves. But the lightness that feels so good when doing that feels cheap on bad roads or on longer highway drives at set speeds. The cabin noise that does not bother you when engaged may start to chip away at you with the cruse set at 75 and the windows rolled up. The VWs all feel more solid at all times, while I think the Mazda is more fun at low speeds. I agree with a previous poster that there are better cars in the 25k price range. It's still totally possible to justify choosing it, but you should shop around at that price to be sure the Mazda is what you want.

I love this car in the summer, when I don't have to commute and the weather is good. I'm not looking forward go going back to the grind in the fall.
 

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IMO i went with Mazda because of the fee of the car, and drivability. I remember thinking the GTI is a better deal (cheaper for more car) but something just didn't feel right.
 

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It really came down to looks for me. I just love what they did with the design of the 3rd gen THREE. Being on many Top 10 lists doesn't hurt. The look of the the GTI really hasn't changed a whole lot over the years. It's mostly the same look - kinda like "blue steel" vs "magnum." haha. I haven't paid much attention to VW but I wouldn't be able tell the different generations apart. "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" Whereas at a glance one can differentiate between the three generations of the Mazda cars immediately. Mazda takes their marketing campaigns to heart: "Driving Matters" and "Zoom-Zoom" are real. This little Japanese company still cares about driving FEEL and passion. They don't sell as many as the other Japanese corporations, but as it's been said by a few car publications, they make the best cars not enough people buy.

The difference in performance wasn't enough for me. And VW's PR disaster didn't help either. And I use to love my VW's - my first car ever was a Rabbit Diesel and my second a Scirocco 16V. It's a personal choice though, so hope you make the right one that fits your needs. The other thing is that I've only seen lease offers for the i and not the s and you really can't compare the 3i to a GTI.
 

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I've been lurking around here for a bit, trying to avoid buying a practical car but, I'm about to drop hammer on a M3 sGT with all options. While the GTI definitely has more get up and go, I just can't ignore the GTI forums which are filled with issues. People love their GTI, but the list of common issues is much longer and more serious than the Mazda3. In a perfect world, I would wait until Mazda released the MazdaSpeed3, but I have it on pretty reliable authority that is never going to happen with this generation.

My cross comparisons:
(I am looking for a vehicle to transport Ocean and Whitewater Kayaks, Mountain and Road bikes, take up to mountain base camps and pick up people from the airport)

Porsche 997.1: This was my first choice and if I had more time to look and get vehicles inspected, would probably be my "practical car". My only issue was arranging time to have candidates inspected by Porsche mechanics to make sure the IMS and such were replaced and the car was in good order. Also finding a coupe was surprisingly hard, there were more convertibles for sale.

Mercedes GLA: Nice car, about as much tire and road noise as the M3. It had great initial low end torque, but not much get up and go once the speedometer passed 30. Options to make this comparable to the M3 caused the price to go sky high and would have to be special ordered since no one in the Seattle area had anything other than the base MB-Tex interior. Less leg room behind my seat than the M3, which really surprised me. It mostly had to do with not being able to fit my feet under the driver seat.

Porsche Macan: Seriously, nice car or CUV. No flaws other than price. If you want a base model, you have to special order and the most basic option pack brings it up to $66K. Without the air suspension it was also too tall for my liking. Biggest vehicle by far.

VW GTI: Loved the seats, mostly like the interior (although some the shiny bits looked like they would get scratched in days). Price was significantly higher and the dealers didn't seem to be negotiating a lot. As said reading the forums, killed the car for me.

Focus ST (Focus Ti): I have a bad history with Ford, but I always want to give them another chance. Forum issues abound with the FiST. Finding the FiST I wanted (leather Recaros) proved impossible and dealers gave me hell about ordering. I would have ordered an RS, but jumped on the gun late and the remaining national dealers that have them are charging crazy prices. Still tempted by the FiST even though the interior is dates and old. Also bad MPG yada, yada.

Mazda: Not a big fan of the dealerships, but love the car. Handling and ride was very similar to the GLA, however it has much better turning radius. Definitely faster when accelerating onto the freeway. Overall a fully loaded one was thousands cheaper than anything else. Fun car to drive and meets all my requirements. It will last me until my Tesla3 shows up.
 

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Nice comparisons, echtogammut. Have you thought about a prior model CPO BMW X1? Or maybe a current model CPO 320? Totally understand if you don't want to go used. I agree on the GTI, although much of the whining over there comes from fools who pump up the psi on their turbos and blow them.

As far as comparisons to entry level lux goes, that's exactly what I was thinking when I bought mine. There are a few small things you should be aware of that are hard to notice prior to ownership: 1) auto down only on drivers window 2) no auto close on sun roof 3) controls are only lit on the center console and dash- no lights on window or door controls elsewhere (except for auto down drivers window), 4) no reading lights in 2nd row, 5) no rear AC vents for 2nd row, 6) hatch area/trunk interior finish very cheap, 7) dead pedal too narrow for my size 11 foot and carpeted. This is mostly picky stuff, honestly, that may not bug you. Interior materials are mostly fantastic, as is interior ergonomics and design. Basically, all the stuff you are likely to notice on a test drive is great. Seats approach BMW sport seat quality, as does the steering wheel (not the M one, though).

There are a lot of intangibles like these that the extra money buys you in an entry lux car (except for the GLA- that's a pretty cynical market grab). This is not the car to buy if you would miss them. If you don't need that (and if you don't commute 50 plus miles a day like I do), then this is a fantastic car.
 

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Prior reliability steered from even considering VW. Just browsing the classifieds alone will give you the impression that after 100K things don't go well. I've just had too much good experience with Japanese vehicles.

Also being honest, I knew once i saw the new design of the 3 hatch, being a fan of mazda already, with great MPG and knowing Mazda driving dynamics already, I had to have one. When they finally offered the 2.5 with the manual, it became a no brainer. My wife was not keen on the 06-08 Forester XT manual full rebuild I really wanted, so i checked out the 3 and 6. I was going to test drive the new forester XT as well, but only having a CVT scared me away. The interior on the 3 blew me away too. It came down to my GT 3 or a Touring 6. I decided to go with the 3 to retain cargo room and lean a bit more towards fun to drive dynamics, and treated myself to the appearance package.

The more i drive my '16 3s, the more i realize it's right in the sweet spot of power for daily driven fun.
 

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Nice comparisons, echtogammut. Have you thought about a prior model CPO BMW X1? Or maybe a current model CPO 320? Totally understand if you don't want to go used. I agree on the GTI, although much of the whining over there comes from fools who pump up the psi on their turbos and blow them.

As far as comparisons to entry level lux goes, that's exactly what I was thinking when I bought mine. There are a few small things you should be aware of that are hard to notice prior to ownership: 1) auto down only on drivers window 2) no auto close on sun roof 3) controls are only lit on the center console and dash- no lights on window or door controls elsewhere (except for auto down drivers window), 4) no reading lights in 2nd row, 5) no rear AC vents for 2nd row, 6) hatch area/trunk interior finish very cheap, 7) dead pedal too narrow for my size 11 foot and carpeted. This is mostly picky stuff, honestly, that may not bug you. Interior materials are mostly fantastic, as is interior ergonomics and design. Basically, all the stuff you are likely to notice on a test drive is great. Seats approach BMW sport seat quality, as does the steering wheel (not the M one, though).

There are a lot of intangibles like these that the extra money buys you in an entry lux car (except for the GLA- that's a pretty cynical market grab). This is not the car to buy if you would miss them. If you don't need that (and if you don't commute 50 plus miles a day like I do), then this is a fantastic car.
The wife had an E84 X1 35i, great car, but all automatics and seriously heavy. Makes a GTI small in the rear view mirror though and handled surprisingly well. Did it's job like a champ in the end, wife had a small bruise on her arm and a little glass in her hands, but nothing worse and just climbed out of the sunroof.

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