2017 Mazda3 vs 2017 Toyota Corolla

2017 Mazda3  VS 2017 Toyota Corolla iM
$15,900 MSRP $16,290
Cloth, Leatherette, and Leather Available Seat Trims Cloth
41 MPG Highway MPG 36 MPG
Standard Backup Camera Standard

Those contemplating the purchase of a small car have their choice between some compelling vehicles. Perfect for couples or small families, the vehicles competing in this category are reliable, economical and, in a few instances, great fun to drive.

Those who believe that driving is an activity to be enjoyed, rather than endured, will quickly discover that the Mazda3 has been designed by enthusiasts. When a car company celebrates their achievements with the adage “Driving Matters” good things are bound to follow.

It’s difficult to remember a time when the Toyota Corolla wasn’t a fixture on Canadian roads. There can’t be many who haven’t either driven or ridden in a Corolla at some point in their lives. Toyota continues to build on this legacy with their latest interpretation of the Corolla.

 

Styling

Avoiding clichéd styling cues and gimmicks, Mazda has created perhaps the most attractive vehicle in the segment. Mazda design begins with KODO (Soul of Motion) design, which influences the company’s entire range of vehicles. Confident, sophisticated, and quietly athletic, the Mazda3 cleverly combines style with function.

The Corolla has recently been given a mid-cycle update (the 11th generation of the Corolla being introduced in 2014). In keeping with Toyota’s current corporate styling theme, the Corolla has been given a familial look. The front of the car won’t be called attractive. The combination of a low hood with an odd and unusual grille and bumper didn’t really work on other contemporary Toyota products, and it’s just as awkward on the Corolla. Otherwise, the Corolla is inoffensive and predictable, which is likely just what Toyota customers expect.

 

Engine Choices

Two engine choices are provided to those considering a Mazda3. A SKYACTIV-G 2.0L inline 4-cylinder (155 horsepower and 150 lb. ft. of torque) is provided in the GX and GS models. The Mazda3 GT is fitted with a SKYACYTIV-G 2.5L inline 4-cylinder (184 horsepower and 185 lb. ft. of torque). Gears can be changed either manually or automatically depending on the transmission selected. Those who prefer to choose their own gears will enjoy the SKYACTIV-MT 6-speed manual transmission. A SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode, Drive Selection switch and paddle shifters will be the first choice of those who seek the best of both worlds.

Depending upon the trim level selected, the Toyota Corolla is offered with two engines. A 1.8L inline 4-cylinder (132 horsepower and 128 lb. ft. of torque) or a 1.8L inline 4-cylinder (140 horsepower and 126 lb. ft. of torque). Toyota and Mazda both offer a 6-speed manual transmission, but the thinking is far different when it comes to the automatic option. Where Mazda specifies a 6-speed automatic, Toyota has chosen to use a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The only advantage offered by a CVT is found in slightly better fuel consumption. This isn’t the choice for those who place a premium on driving enjoyment, and should be experienced over a test drive that incorporates as many variations in driving circumstances as possible.

Interior

It isn’t surprising that the interior of the Mazda3 is every bit as attractive as the exterior. Once again applying the KODO principals of design, Mazda has created an interior that is both stylish and welcoming. Quality materials are applied throughout the cabin, and provide both visual and tactile interest. The rear seats of the Mazda3 have been criticised for being narrow, a not unexpected comment when discussing a small car. Best then to grab the keys and sit in the driver’s seat.

As part of the Corolla’s recent update, the interior received some attention. Subtle changes have been made within the spacious cabin. Where the Mazda3 is criticized for having a narrow rear seat, the Corolla suffers from a lack of rear-seat headroom. While your head may not fit, there is happily plenty of leg-room.

Driving

Mazda makes cars for people who enjoy driving. “Driving Matters” is far more than a clever advertising campaign. The company’s range of SKYACTIV technologies combine to create some of the best handling and most involving vehicles currently offered in the marketplace. Having previously been cited for its exceptional handling, the Mazda3 now features G-Vectoring Control.

The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada awarded Mazda their 2017 Best Innovation Technology Award in recognition of this extraordinary achievement in vehicle handling dynamics. G-Force Vectoring enhances handling by making small adjustments in engine output, which places more weight over the front wheels. Quietly working in the background, G-Force Vectoring provides another level of sophistication to the Mazda3 driving experience.

The Toyota Corolla does many things very well. What it won’t do is provide large doses of driving enjoyment. The Corolla isn’t as powerful as the Mazda3, and its Constantly Variable Transmission is biased towards fuel economy, rather than performance.

The Corolla’s has been cited in the motoring press as being “Still as dull as a dust rag, glacial-pace acceleration…” (Car and Driver October 2016), and If you’ve test-driven other compacts, you may wonder if something is wrong when you press the accelerator pedal to the floorboard. Until about 30–35 mph, the response is lethargic (Motor Trend October 2016). The Corolla provides safe, predictable handling, which is just as it should be, but those who enjoy stringing corners together will be advised to look elsewhere.

Conclusion

Despite its average performance, the Toyota Corolla continues to find its intended market. Those who seek nothing more from a car than they do with any other appliance will be pleased to park a Corolla on their driveway. “When interior space and safety tech are more important than class-competitive acceleration and driving fun, the Corolla will still earn its place among those with fond associations of the Toyota brand.” (October 6, 2016 Motor Trend).

The enthusiast driver seeking an engaging and enjoyable small car will be advised to visit their local Mazda dealer. There are few options in this category that offer such a considered and complete driving experience as that offered by the Mazda3. If your lifestyle precludes the purchase of an MX-5 sports car, your expectations will be happily met with the Mazda3. It turns out that Zoom Zoom is actually a way of life…