For those punters who are on the edge, this is for you. When comparing the Mazda 3 and Mazda 6, you are faced with a dilemma. Namely: choosing between one of the best midsize cars of 2020, and this year’s world car design winner. That’s no easy call to make. And given that these two cars excel in different ways and impress with stunning individuality and authenticity, pitting these cars against each other is made more difficult by an impressive range of trims in both camps. But never mind, we’ve done all the hard work for you.
Here’s your ultimate guide to choosing between these flagship cars.
The obvious space situation
Yes, it’s obvious from the start. The Mazda 3 is smaller and more compact. If your second home is down in Albany, well, you’re reading the wrong article. But in all seriousness, how much bigger is the Mazda 6? Compared to the stylish Mazda 3’s 358 litres, the Mazda 6 sedan is larger with a far more useful 480 litres in the boot. That’s the difference between a whole person’s holiday baggage, extra shoes and all. Not to mention the Mazda 6 wagon variant, which has 506 litres, higher roof at the back, you get the picture. When it comes to long drives and packing suitcases, it's a no brainer. If you’re going to need that amount of space frequently, don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Get the Mazda 6. End of story.
Or is it?
Because when it comes to the front, and let's face it, you’re not going to be realistically tossing up either of these cars if space is really an issue, the front cabin is where the battle heats up. Because once the groceries are safely in the boot, you’re now climbing into one of two cabins that both have a lot going for them. The stylish new and simply elegant “less is more” approach on the Mazda 3 is arguably the better cabin despite the densely populated, tech-heavy dashboard of the Mazda 6. Just don’t look behind you, because the 3 isn’t so generous with back seating legroom or height, especially in the hatchback.
Mazda 3 vs Mazda 6: what feels better to drive?
If you’re after more power, the top Mazda 6 trims all have a 2.5-litre turbocharged 4 cylinder engine. That’s much more grunt than the Mazda 3, which has steered clear of a turbocharger, opting for efficiency over speed. If you’re hungry for power and have a taste for a turbocharged engine, you have a simple choice. The Mazda 6 is faster, but it’s also longer and heavier. Driving around town would certainly be easier in the 3, and tight parking is the same. Also, if you want a fun manual gearbox, your only choice is the 3. But at the end of the day, the Mazda 6 is a sports saloon, and the Mazda 3 isn’t. For many, that’s game over for the 3.
Which is safer?
This is a hard one. Both cars boast a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, and a host of driver assistance tech, such as lane departure warning, cruise control, and so on. With these cars, it comes down to the bare basics. The Mazda 3 is smaller and the hatchback is difficult to see out of. If you’re parking in a tight garage, the Mazda 6 only offers front and rear parking sensors on its highest Signature trim, while the Mazda 3 is bursting with safety tech from the bottom of the range upward. It also has an extra airbag. If you’re after a car that doesn't skimp on safety because of its size, stick with the Mazda 3.
Cost and value for money
The Mazda 3 is roughly $9,000 cheaper than the Mazda 6. Depending on which features you add, they both appreciate at very similar rates with the highest trims reflecting a similar price gap. With a turbocharged engine, the Mazda 6 does present a better driving experience. But, when it comes to value, things get a bit dicey. The Mazda 6’s turbocharged engine only kicks in at the Grand Touring level. Furthermore, you could forgo the Mazda 6 base trim, and with essentially the same money get a Mazda 3 GT. That’ll come with heated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless entry, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. And how much more is all that, I hear you whisper? A mere $80 is all.
With a new hybrid prowling the streets, the Mazda 3 has some new smart tech that will impress the fuel savvy customers. The Mazda 3 also harnesses energy from braking, delivering stored power to increase torque and boost the car's electric grid. On the road, the Mazda hybrid boasts a 1.5l/100km advantage over the Mazda 6. While any other Mazda 3 will still come in with a modest 0,7l/100km advantage over its larger, heavier brother.
With both cars bristling with the latest and greatest, these cars both do a fine job of delivering easy to use infotainment systems and effortless connectivity solutions. Looking at the base trims, the Mazda 3 does have a slightly larger 8.8-inch infotainment screen and 2 extra speakers - while the Mazda 6 has sporty paddle gear shift controls and an extra power outlet. Besides these almost trivial disparities, there’s not much else between them.
For someone who needs the extra space and feels deserving of more power, you know what you’ve got to do. But, for the more savvy metro-dwelling driver who enjoys a playful ride, you could be headed for the more agile Mazda 3. With an entire range of trims and options to indulge in, choosing between these cars isn’t as simple as it might seem. Check out our Mazda 3 review and see what’s applicable to your lifestyle and don’t forget a Mazda 6 review for both sides of the story. For a complete picture, get in touch with your local leadership and organise a well-earned test drive.