August 16, 2006

Mazda3 top-rated hatchback in Consumer Reports’ tests

Mazda3 Sport
Mazda3 Sport. Click image to enlarge

Yonkers, New York – The Mazda3 has achieved a “Very Good” overall score and has become Consumer Reports’ top-rated hatchback, following tests of four vehicles for magazine’s September issue.

The Mazda3 outscored the Audi A3, Saab 9-2X and Dodge Caliber in performance tests conducted at the magazine’s auto test centre in Connecticut.

“The Mazda3 is a very competent performer, both in sedan and hatchback configurations,” says David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center. “The Mazda3 has a sporty character stemming from its agile handling. The roomy interior is nicely finished, imparting a quality feel. It also returned a very good 25 mpg (9.4 L/100 km, or 30 mpg Imp) overall.”

The A3 rated slightly below the Mazda3, but still with a “Very Good” overall rating; the 9-2X also had a “Very Good” rating but finished further back. Consumer Reports tested both the all-wheel-drive R/T and front-wheel-drive SXT Dodge Caliber, both of which finished at the bottom with “Good” overall scores.

In its report, the magazine called the A3 “quick, nimble and versatile with a roomy, but somewhat spartan, high-quality interior”, but called it “pricey when compared with the other cars in this group, and it requires premium fuel”, and some engineers found the brake pedal to be “touchy”. The Saab 9-2X, based on the Subaru Impreza, “handles nimbly and rides well, but it’s short on interior space and refinement”, and the added weight of the standard all-wheel drive “hurts both acceleration and fuel economy.” The magazine found that “the Caliber is pleasant and has some inventive features, but it is outclassed by the other hatchbacks”; it has a “comfortable ride” but “it lacks responsive acceleration or agile handling” and “the interior is hurt by poorly finished materials.”

Consumer Reports recommends the Mazda3 and Saab 9-2X; it does not have reliability information yet for the A3 and Caliber. The magazine only recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on a survey of subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

The hatchback test will appear in the magazine’s September issue, which also includes a full test of the Kia Sedona minivan, which achieved a “Very Good” overall score and placed third in the ratings behind the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna, but ahead of competitors from Chrysler, Ford and Nissan.

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