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2020 Mazda3 vs. Volkswagen Golf – Which Hatch Should You Buy?

If you’re shopping for a solid hatchback, you can’t go wrong with either the Mazda 3 or the Volkswagen Golf. Hatchbacks offer an appealing blend of practicality and style. Today, most hatchbacks allow drivers to fold down the back seats for additional cargo space when you need it. They also offer a striking, distinctive silhouette that sets them apart from sedans.

How do the Volkswagen Golf and the Mazda 3 match up? Which offers the better value? Which is the most fun to drive?

The 2020 Mazda 3

According to Car and Driver, the new Mazda 3 is one of the swankiest choices in its class. Also available as a sedan, the Mazda 3 feels more opulent than either the Honda Civic or the Toyota Corolla. With an adequate four-cylinder engine and the same features as the competition, the Mazda 3 handles nimbly and offers a comfortable ride on less than accommodating roads. 

While there’s no performance model, that’s an issue for some. Otherwise, the Mazda 3 has a great infotainment system and several good standard driver-assists. You have to move up to higher trim levels to get all of the best features. The rear visibility leaves a little to be desired too.

The 2020 Volkswagen Golf 

The Volkswagen Golf hatchback is a fun offering too. Car and Driver mentioned that it’s affordable, and the fuel efficiency will appeal to many these days. It’s widely agreed that it’s a classy, engaging hatchback that has a lot to offer. OK, so its turbocharged four-cylinder engine only gets 147 hp. It’s still fun to drive and handles corners like a dream. It also provides an impressive amount of cargo space for its class.

The lack of power and the tiny center console hurts the tame Golf a little. So does the fact that it doesn’t have full-power seats. It’s an excellent hatchback that handles well and gets good gas mileage. But it’s as basic as borrowing Mom’s car.

Motor Trend’s take on Mazda 3 vs. Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen sent the team at Motor Trend a 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI with a stick shift. It didn’t take them long to compare it to their 2020 Mazda 3. 

The team determined that the Golf is the clear choice for those seeking the best value. The Golf gets better fuel economy, offers more cargo space, and ultimately costs less. Its appearance is likely to look dated sooner rather than later, but more practical shoppers aren’t likely to mind that. If you’ve got some extra dollars to put on your investment, they find the GTI manual is worth it.

They found the Mazda to be the sexier option. The Mazda 3 offers an opulent interior and a nice selection of advanced tech features, including a user interface that’s not too different from Audi’s. The Mazda offers a refined engine for sportier handling, and that’s a real bonus.

With taller tires, the Golf handled big bumps in the road better. While its chassis is older than the Mazda’s, it still handled the ride with no vibration. But the Mazda’s leather seats were a bit more comfortable. The entire cabin in the Mazda is superior to the Golf for its use of beautiful materials and upscale comfort and style.

That leads us to which one the team at MT found more fun to drive. When they took each out for a test drive on local, windy roads, they found the Mazda 3 presented a couple of shifting quirks along the way. The Golf didn’t offer any problems with downshifting. Still, they pointed out that the golf-ball shift knob wasn’t there in the TSI models, which disappointed them. Ultimately, they found the Mazda 3 offered a more fun ride with its aggressive tires and sportier feel. They liked the responsive steering and the new twist-beam suspension. It keeps the fun driving nature of the previous model but retains tight body control. 

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