For Honda Civic enthusiasts, time to purchase the sedan version of this much-loved classic is running out. This year sees the end of the 10th generation of the Civic. The 11th generation, due in 2022, will not include a sedan version.
The 2021 Mazda 3 has enjoyed several updates, including some welcome tweaking of the Sky-Activ drive train to give better handling and suspension, as well as a revamped exterior.
Both the Civic and the 3 are well-established, popular vehicles that offer good looks, great performance and reasonable fuel efficiency. Here we consider the little details that can help prospective owners decide which of these two attractive options is going to best suit their needs.
Honda has a reputation for creating solid, family-orientated vehicles that are dependable and fuel-efficient. A recent survey of most trusted car brands rated Honda in an impressive fourth place, two behind Mazda, in second place. In contrast, Mazda is well-known for producing stylish, sporty cars with high-end interiors and highly rated performance.
Spacious and well laid out, the Civic's interior offers a tranquil environment in which to spend time. The driving position is relatively low, giving a sporty feel behind the wheel. A 7" infotainment screen is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. A DAB radio is included in the package. Rear space is generous, according to reviewers. Second-row passengers benefit from plenty of legroom, as well as little luxuries such as cup holders and a large, central storage bin. The Honda's sedan boot is a massive 519l!
The Mazda 3 has a stunning interior, with plenty of intricate detailing and textured materials. Ergonomically designed, features include an auto-dimming rear mirror, keyless entry, a driver's seat that benefits from a ten-way powered adjustment feature and Bose audio.
The room in the back is limited - adult passengers may be uncomfortably cosy on longer trips. Boot space is 295l in the hatchback and 444l in the sedan - if you have plenty of kit to transport, the Mazda 3 isn't likely to be the car for you.
The Civic's exterior is distinctively styled in a "love it or hate it" manner. Paint options include "Phoenix Orange", "Ignite Red" and "Sporty Blue". Alloys come as standard on all variants, and owners can purchase the Civic Black Pack, which consists of black accents on the skirts, under the bumpers and on the front end.
It's definitely a car that stands out from the crowd, but whether this is for the right reasons or not largely comes down to personal taste.
Whilst the Civic is can be more than a little in-your-face with its exuberant exterior, the Mazda 3 can best be described as possessing an understated, sporty presence. A shark-face front end sets the tone for a car that means business on the road. LED lights are a welcome update. This is an elegant car that punches above its weight when it comes to looks.
Opt for the Civic, and you have a choice of two engines. The VTi-S, entry-level variant benefits from a naturally aspirated 1.8l petrol engine offering 104kw and 174Nm of torque. The turbo-charged 1.5l 4-cylinder engine (available in the VTi-L and RS variants) delivers 127kw and 220nm of torque. Fuel efficiency is quoted as 6.4l/100km for the turbo and 6.1l/100km for the 1.8l.
The Mazda uses a 2.0 or a 2.5l naturally aspirated petrol engine. These deliver 114kw/200nm and 138kw, 252nm torque respectively. The hybrid x20 uses a Skyactiv-X M hybrid engine that delivers 132kw and 224nm of torque. Fuel efficiency is 6.2l/100km for the petrol variants and 5.3l/100km for the hybrid.
Both have received positive reviews for their driving performance. The Honda is praised for its reliable handling and comfortable ride. The Mazda 3 is complemented on its suspension, handling and speed. The 3 is probably slightly sportier in the handling, but not by much.
- Stunning styling and beautiful choice of materials.
- High level of safety.
- Comprehensive suite of autonomous driving features
- The Honda is very roomy in the rear and has a larger boot.
- Reassuring to drive.
- Nicely positioned driver's seat.
Why you should buy the Honda Civic
If you want a fairly priced, family car that's also comfortable, attractive and fun to drive, the Civic works really well.
It's also reasonably priced, entering the market at $23,590. At the top of the range, the Type R Limited edition will set you back $66,700. Don't let the out-there paintwork and funky vibe fool you, the Civic offers some serious performance when it's needed, particularly if you opt for the higher-spec engine.
Probably the worst criticism you can level at the Civic is its slightly dated tech and relative lack of autonomous features in comparison with similar vehicles.
Why you should buy the Mazda 3
Handling like a dream beautifully styled and benefiting from Mazda's racing pedigree, the 3 is a lovely car to own. Very safe and with a good suite of autonomous driving features, probably its worst fault is the sub-par infotainment screen.
Great for singles and couples, the Mazda has a luxurious ambience that puts it on par with higher grade manufacturers. The relative lack of space in the back and smallish boot mean it's probably not the best choice for families or people with lots of luggage.
It's probable that it will be the price tag that sways owners, rather than any particular feature of the Mazda 3 or the Honda Civic. The Civic entry price is $23,590, compared with $25,590 for the Mazda 3.
It's debatable whether there's enough added value to justify the extra two grand. Particularly if you're looking for a family car that's going to be suitable for more than one driving style, the adaptable, good-tempered Honda Civic is probably going to be the better choice.
Other Options to Consider
For motorists who like to customise their vehicles, the Hyundai i30 is a good option. The i30 has a competitive entry price of $23,420. Customers can then add on various extras to get the car they want. Besides its sporty performance, the i30 comes with Hyundai Smartsense as standard on all models.
If price is a consideration, you could do a lot worse than the Kia Cerato. It lacks the styling and high-end feel of the Mazda, but if you want an unassuming, competent, family car that's going to take you where you need to go economically and comfortably, the Cerato does the lot.
The Toyota Corolla is Australia's most popular passenger car, outselling every other model in its class. It's not the cheapest, but the fact that it has a large, loyal following indicates it has plenty to offer.
If you are a little worried about the cost (and to be fair, with an entry-level price of $23,895, it's not that much more than others in its class), remember that Toyotas hold their value well, so you'll probably be able to get a good trade-in or secondhand price for it.