The Road Ahead : June July 2014
QUEENSLAND'S LARGEST CLUB 47 JUN/JUL 2014 THE ROAD AHEAD CAR COMPARISON | MOTORING WHEN IT COMES to the mantle of Australia's most popular car, it's a two-horse race between the old 'un, Toyota Corolla, and the relative newcomer, Mazda3. These are cars truly relevant to the 21st century, bristling with style, safety, useful technology and delivering impressive fuel economy and low emissions without compromising driveability. Perhaps little wonder the pair has usurped Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon at the top of the sales charts. Last year, Toyota released the hatchback of its new generation Corolla. Mazda responded by launching the complete range -- hatch and sedan -- of its new generation '3' in January. With Corolla sedan now also landed, a comparison between the two arch-rivals proved as inevitable as it was irresistible. But, we thought it appropriate to add another couple of worthy starters, to add quantity to our quality small car field. A big hand, then, for Hyundai's Elantra and Kia's Cerato. First, though, let's look at the form of the short-priced favourites saddled up in mid-spec (as opposed to entry-level or high-end variants of their respective model ranges). Corolla SX, with seven-speed CVT, is quick out of the starter's gate with a price tag of $25,240, some $2250 lower than the six-speed auto-quipped Mazda3 Touring. But, the latter pulls back ground in the value for money stakes by having a better Glass's Guide forecast residual of 42 percent (Corolla 38) after five years/70,000km. It also offers a longer kilometre coverage to its warranty (both three year, but unlimited as opposed to 100,000km). Insurance costs are within $20 of one another and the pair boasts a well-equipped standard equipment inventory that includes ABS, DFSCA (Corolla also has DKA), EBD, BA, ESC, TC, reversing camera and height-adjustable front seatbelts with load limiter and pretensioner. Both earn a five star ANCAP safety rating, the best there is. Tick also 16AW, steering reach/tilt adjustment, CC, voice activation, information display, radio/CD player with MP3 and bluetooth connectivity, auxiliary input and USB and power mirrors and windows. Mazda3 Touring comes with ACCD rather than standard aircon, NAV, lumbar support for the driver and RSW, though the spare is a spacesaver, not full-size as on Corolla (and the two Koreans). The Mazda claims the better ADR combined fuel economy figure of 5.7 litres/100km, 0.9 lower than the Toyota, but on test both averaged a still impressive 7.5. Environmentally, each attracts a 4.5 star (out of five) Green Vehicle Guide rating. Even at a cursory glance, it's evident that new Mazda3 and Corolla have been enhanced by the styling wand. Both interiors are well presented and comfortable places to be, though the Mazda features leather trim in a tasteful, unpretentious two-tone while the Toyota is garbed in a more conservative, tight-weave cloth. By our measurements, Corolla has more head height for the driver, though there's longer leg room behind the wheel in Mazda3. The latter's back seat passengers stand to enjoy better head space and rear seat width, but the former is more accommodating by way of leg room. Toyota wins the space race in boot size -- 470 litres to 408. Mazda3, with its 114kW/200Nm 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G engine, enjoys a power and torque advantage over the smaller (1.8-litre, 103kW/173Nm) Corolla. And this shows, not so much in everyday driveability around town, but when you need to put the foot down -- such as when overtaking. The Mazda proved the fastest in all but one of our six acceleration tests, by margins of between 0.5 and 1.0 second. It doesn't stop there ... drive the Mazda3 over a number of days over a diversity of roads and conditions and one thing is vividly clear -- the Touring is the most dynamic package. Even when given a torrid workout, the steering feels crisp and linear in the way it's weighted, there's grip aplenty and an absence of body roll. Paddle shifters, to manually change gears, add to the relatively sporty drive impression. There's no vice to the way Corolla steers, handles and stops (it pulls up from 80km/h-stop in 23.5m, second only to Cerato), but it impresses more for other things such as a soft, comfortable ride and well-suppressed NVH levels. Our noise meter readings confirmed it as the quietest at idle and a constant 80km/h and equal quietest with the Kia from 50-80km/h. ABBREVIATIONS: ABS (anti-lock brakes), AC (airconditioning), ACC (climate-control airconditioning), ACCD (dual-zone climate-control), AL (anti-theft alarm), ASS (auto stop-start), AW (alloy wheel and size in inches), BA (brake assist), CC (cruise control), DFSCA (dual front/front side/curtain airbags), DKA (driver's knee airbag), EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution), ESC (electronic stability control), HDC ( hill descent control), HFS (heated front seats), HSA (hill start assist), KE (keyless entry), LT (leather trim), MLP (Manufacturer's List Price), NAV (satellite navigation), PS (parking sensors), RC (reversing camera), RSW (rain-sensing wipers), SBPT (seat belt pre-tensioner), TC (traction control). IMAGES: TOYOTA COROLLA SX. PHOTOS SHOT ON LOCATION AT THE ROYAL INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE, BRISBANE SHOWGROUNDS.