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Hot Hatch with a Lux touch

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

Member6055

I'm moving to California and looking at some hot hatch options. I currently drive the 2013 Jetta Hybrid and am happy with the performance and fuel economy, but the battery really hampers trunch space so I am now looking for hatch back options.

Currently I have my eyes on two major options:

1) Used Audi A3 - I would prefer to spend between $15000-$20000k used. I don't see a huge point in going to the top of my $25000k budget unless I reclaim much of the factory warranty.
2A) New 2014 Mazda 3 - The new Mazda 3 just seems so compelling to me with all the new refinements they bought in this year. It is the first and only car I have ever considered to buy new. I had a MX-6 for many years and loved it.
2B) New 2013 Mazdaspeed 3 - It appears to be still available and @$24k for a decked out hatch, it is very tempting. Not sure the how great the difference in refinement will be compared to the 2014 Mazda 3. Also, I am somewhat concerned about fuel economy during NORMAL driving. Driving the hybrid for the past year, it really has encoruaged me to back off the lead foot. So I'm fine to pay for gas when I floor it, but not when I'm cruising.

There are few cars on the bubble. The Lexus CT200 hybrid seems interesting, but not sure how the driving dynamics and cargo space are. The VW Golf/GTI are great cars, but I feel the few inches extra hatch space on the A3 or Mazda 3 will make all the difference. The Impreza is always impressive performance wise, but alway disspoints on confort and interior.

Thoughts and suggestions?

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Hatch

Car Needs: Daily commuter / Errands about town / Long trips / Fun toy

Primary Driver(s): Short driver

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 100000
Maximum age: 6 years

Maximum price: US $ 25000

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Response from mkaresh

10:37 am April 29, 2014

The MazdaSpeed3 is a fun car to drive, but some people dislike the amount of torque steer (pull to one side while accelerating). My main issues with the car are aesthetic, especially the interior styling. It's only offered with a manual transmission.

The new Mazda3 isn't nearly as torquey, but is a very good car in other respects. The larger engine is currently only offered with an automatic--which transmission do you prefer?

The Ford Focus and Focus ST are also worth a look. The latter's repair frequency is higher because the original motor mounts permitted too much engine movement under hard acceleration. Some people also find the MyFord Touch interface hard to use, though software updates have helped.

The Lexus CT costs a lot more, has a very tight back seat, and doesn't perform as well. It's hard to make a case for one unless you put a high priority on its more luxurious interior.

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Mazda Mazda3
Ford Focus

Response from ronhawk62

12:10 pm April 29, 2014

Response from avshelden

12:41 pm April 29, 2014

My immediate thought on seeing only your title was the A3. Too bad the deisel hasn't been around a while yet and then you might be able to address your fuel efficiency concerns at something other than the new car price (Edmuds.com suggests if you could find one with no options it would be ~$28K new)

From when my wife bought her Jetta, I thought (at least then) that VW did a better job with interior than the Mazadas and Honda we looked at and would have recommended those options.

Given you thought the VW choices would be too small, I'm a little hestitant to suggest it, but have you looked at the Volvo C30? Not sure if you wanted 4 doors, but it's the other "higher end" brand hatch I thought of. I have a friend who loves his.

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Audi A3 / S3 / RS3
Volvo C30

Response from Member6055

9:13 pm April 29, 2014

Thanks for the suggestions thus far.

I prefer Manual and my wife prefers Auto. So well see how that plays out!

I test drove the Mazda 3 2.0 today. The base configuration and interior are quite impressive, but to my surpise I am quite disppointed with driver gauges. I find the speedo itself to be small and the digital tach to be tiny! I think only the top of line S Grand Touring has the full size tach and HUD speedo? Overall a fun car to drive, though they did not have a manual for testing. 155HP seems sufficient, but not necassarily "fun". Compared to the 170HP combined electric/gas engine on the Jetta Hybrid Turbo, I find the power/torque to be more "available" on the Jetta even though it's a heavier car.

I test drove the C30 a few years ago, liked it, but yes it is bit small and I prefer 4 doors, etc.

A3 is definitely still in the running. A diesel would be great. I love the TDI engines on the VW and I'm sure their just as good on the Audi. Though I do have some concerns based on the reliability reports here to get an A3 that's more than 5 years old. I haven't really considered the Ford, though I have noticed their ads recently. I just need to get over myself to consider an American car.

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Response from mkaresh

9:16 am April 30, 2014

Newer is definitely better with anything German. 2010 was the first year for the TDI in the U.S. A3. It looks like even a 2012 would fit below your cap. Figure $20k for one with 40k miles.

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Response from willied

5:28 pm April 30, 2014

I'd go with the Focus ST if I were in your situation...but yeah, definitely test drive all of them and see what you think.

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Response from Member4327

10:42 am May 1, 2014

I had a 2010 speed3 for awhile. Good car. Although if I were buying today I'd definitely be looking at the newer generation GTI (2010+) and the new Focus ST. Both are built better than the Mazda and the GTI is significantly quieter inside...

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Response from Member6055

3:30 pm May 1, 2014

GTI is nice and since we have the Jetta Hybrid, we are quite familiar with how a well appointed VW interior is like. Still a bit concern about boot space in the back, especially with the seats up.

Focus ST, I'll give it test drive some time, though I have some concerns if it's a little bit too aggressive and torque-steer happy to drive for my wife. Given that I think I am eliminating the MazdaSpeed3 from my list as well.

Looks the 2014 Mazda 3 or used Audi A3 are still my top choices.

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Response from willied

8:25 pm May 1, 2014

Well, if the ST is too much to handle then you could also try out a regular Focus.

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Response from mkaresh

8:38 am May 2, 2014

Torque steer won't happen even in the MS3 unless she's really heavy on the gas. It's not an issue in typical day-to-day driving. But the steering in the Focus ST is ultra-quick.

I haven't checked closely, but is there significantly less cargo space in the Golf / GTI than in a Focus or Mazda3? If so, I hadn't realized this.

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Response from Member6055

10:54 am May 2, 2014

Cargo space between the Golf/GTI, Mazda3, and A3 are all comparable at around 45-48 cu.ft with the rear seats down. With the rear seats up, both the A3 and Mazda3 are around 20 cu.ft while the Golf is 15 cu.ft. It's the same conundum we have with the Jetta hybrid: how do we fit two large suitcases in the back?

The new Golf gen7 is also interesting and I have actually test driven it already and is a very impressive car with all the tech and safety features decked out. I didn't have time to check the cargo space, but it's has less stout stance compared to it's predessors. Would be interested to see where the final pricing lands for it.

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