2013 Mazda3 Hatchback vs 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT

High MPG Hatchbacks Face Off

2
2013 Mazda3 Hatchback vs 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT

Hatchbacks are a tough sell in America, but a swath of the population still appreciates the added practicality a fifth door brings. For those few and proud who don’t care for sedan styling, there are some spectacular, budget-minded options and topping the list are the Mazda3 hatchback and Hyundai Elantra GT.

Both cars are fuel efficient, practical choices that merit consideration. And while they might seem remarkably similar on paper, a little time behind the wheel proves otherwise.

Despite having its Skyactiv engine line, the 2012 Mazda3 keeps much of its “zoom-zoom” spirit while forgoing much of the fancier feature feeling Hyundai strives for.

DRIVING FEEL

2013 mazda3 alone

The Mazda has a more powerful engine with 155 hp compared to 148 for the Hyundai, but strangely it doesn’t feel that way around town. In fact, the Elantra will fool you into seeming like the more powerful of the two. Much of the reason for this is the Hyundai’s touchy throttle, meaning it wants to lurch forward at the slightest touch, though lacks any real power beyond that. The Mazda is the opposite and begs to be strung out in order to have any fun.

In every other way, the Mazda feels better. It’s more nimble. Step on the gas pedal and you’ll see the tach leap to meet a downshift. And those shifts feel buttery smooth next to the Hyundai’s imprecise gearbox. Grinding gears is darn near impossible in the Mazda, which isn’t the case with the Hyundai.

elantra gt front three quarterIn fact, finding first gear from a stop sign was strangely difficult on more than one occasion in the Elantra. The stick gets stuck sometimes and doesn’t want to shift smoothly — a problem further aggravated by the fact that, like the gas, the clutch is extra touchy.

That, combined with a comparatively sky-high seating position and long gear throws mean driving the Hyundai feels more designed for the average commuter than for anyone who enjoys driving.

In the past we praised the Elantra GT’s gearbox, though when tested head-to-head with the Mazda3, which employs one of the best units in the business, its faults show through.

What the Elantra GT does offer is a three-mode driver selectable steering system, with settings for comfort, normal and sport. Perhaps more of a gimmick that people won’t actually use, the Sport setting is an improvement, and along with making the Elantra more responsive, also makes steering feel more consistent.

Neither car is fast enough to feign any real sports performance, but at least the Mazda will hit its limits with glee during a highway cloverleaf. It’s just not the same in the Hyundai.

Compare Specs

2013 Mazda3 Hatchback
vs
2013 Hyundai Elantra GT
Vehicle 2013 Mazda3 Hatchback Advantage 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT
Engine 2.0L I4 - 1.8L I4
Horsepower 155 Mazda3 148
Max. Torque 148 Mazda3 131
Fuel Economy 27 MPG city / 38 MPG hwy - 27 MPG city / 39 MPG hwy
Cargo Room 17 cu. in. Elantra GT 23 cu. in.
Total Cargo Room 42 cu. in. Elantra GT 51 cu. in.
Transmission 6-Speed Manual - 6-Speed Manual
Front-Row Head Room 38.9 in. Elantra GT 40.1 in.
Front-Row Leg Room 42 in. - 42 in.
Rear Seat Head Room 38.0 in. Mazda3 37.9 in.
Rear Seat Leg Room 36.2 in. Mazda3 34.6 in.
Starting Price $19,300 Elantra GT $18,395

INTERIOR COMFORT AND STYLE

If you’re really considering a homely hatchback like one of these, you don’t have any business expecting thrills. Still, equipped with a six-speed, both cars can keep their drivers feeling engaged.

2013 Mazda3 5 door interior 02Where the Mazda wins with youthful energy in the driving experience, it’s the opposite when it comes to the interior and in-car technology. Rife with mundane plastic that looks a decade-dated at least (the monotone look isn’t doing Mazda any favors), there aren’t any surprises in how the Mazda3’s button-rich center stack works. People picking the Hyundai get a more styling and technologically apt experience, but one that takes a little getting used to, especially for anyone transplanting from an older vehicle.

Despite being less inspiring to drive, the Hyundai’s seats are better bolstered and more lower back friendly. Hopping from one to the other, the difference is impossible to ignore. The optional panoramic moon roof also lends the Elantra a more expensive feel. Its cloth cover opens from both the front and back to reveal a massive glass roof that lets light flood in much better than the Mazda.

elantra gt interior

Some, however, will feel less bullish on the new-school Hyundai’s faux-fancy feel. With the Hyundai doing a better job at looking higher grade than actually being higher grade, the Mazda’s components might not have much flare but are quality bits. And their simplicity lets you feel at home quickly.

Regardless, the fact remains that you’ll be able to grow accustomed to either car quickly. Buying a hatchback means more than caring about how the car feels. You probably care about cargo capacity, and that’s where Hyundai shines brightest.

CABIN AND CARGO ROOM

Both have plenty of space to store a solid haul from Wal-Mart, but the Elantra offers 23 cubic feet with the seats up and a whopping 51 with them folded. Mazda buyers have to make do with slightly less at 17 cubic feet with back seat passengers and only 42 with the rear seatbacks folded.

Apart from cargo hauling, taller drivers will enjoy an extra inch of headroom in the Hyundai. An important factor, depending on how you intend to use those rear seats and who you put back there, rear seat passengers in the Mazda3 will actually enjoy more legroom with 36.2 inches to the Hyundai’s 34.6.

MPG AND PRICING

Drivers aren’t likely to notice any difference between the Mazda’s 27/38 mpg (city/highway) and the Hyundai’s 27/39 in the same test cycles. Differences in individual driving styles are easily enough to negate that difference. However, during our testing the Mazda3 delivered superior fuel economy numbers with an average of 33 mpg compared to just 28 mpg in the Elantra GT.

Of note, our test cars both came equipped with manual transmissions. With each car equipped with an available six-speed automatic both are rated slightly higher at 28/39 mpg.

What drivers will notice is that the Mazda3’s 14.5-gallon fuel tank has a half a gallon advantage on the Mazda, meaning during highway driving it delivers roughly 20 extra miles of range.

What Hyundai can offer is a more attractive starting price. At $18,395, you’ll be able to save almost $1,000 over the Mazda3 hatchback, which costs a minimum of $19,300. Of note, base Elantras also get a significantly different suspension setup that is certain to further detract from the level of driving enjoyment.

THE VERDICT

2013 mazda3 and 2013 elantra gt

With minimal differences on paper, testing these two high-mpg hatchbacks together brought to light significantly different driving experiences. While nearly identical in functionality, a week spent testing both cars showed the Mazda to have superior real world fuel economy while also being more fun to drive.

Mazda3

« Back
SWEEPSTAKES – OFFICIAL RULES, TERMS AND CONDITIONS

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

1. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. AGE/RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS, VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked