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Toyota Corolla XRS vs Nissan Sentra SE-R SPEC V vs Mazda3

patpat Posts: 10,421
edited March 21 in Mazda
Forums member saintrose asks:

Any ideas what car is the better deal/nicer car? I can spend up to $21K on a new car that will need to last me at least 7 years. I like the look of both these cars. What do owners of each think?

Does anyone have Pros/Cons of each.

Thanks so much!!


  • mcdawggmcdawgg Posts: 1,667
    If reliability is a concern, go with the Toyota. Sentra lately has been below average, according to CR.
  • john500john500 Posts: 409
    I haven't done any research on the pros/cons of each. I have taken a test drive in the Corolla XRS and it was very impressive in my opinion. I think the Spec V might have slightly better acceleration based upon published numbers. I was ready to buy the XRS right away, however, I didn't get the trade in value that I was hoping for. If you can find one (they are in limited production in 05, 5000 vehicles I have been told), you could probably get an XRS for just under $16,000 after negotiations. I would definitely pick the XRS. If they keep production limited to about the current numbers, the resale value will probably hold up very well (similar to the 1999-2000 Honda Civic SI coupes). Although the engine on the XRS is from Yamaha, it has been used in the Celica GT-S for years and should have good reliability.
  • mikegillermikegiller Posts: 602
    Do you mean to say that it is tuned by Yamaha? Because the same 1.8 litre engine is in the base Corolla and also Matrix. Lotus credits the 1.8 engine in the Elise to Toyota not Yamaha.
  • john500john500 Posts: 409
    I have no idea. The internet information that I have read indicates that Yamaha "tunes" the engine. What does that mean? Changing the camshaft on the base 130 hp 1.8 L Toyota engine? Why does Yamaha have to tune one of Toyota's engines.
  • gmajorgmajor Posts: 2
    I to am debating the value of the Toyota Corolla XRS, Scion tc and Honda Civic si. A best choice? Honda seems to have better overall handling and crisper engine, Toyota more practicality, and I like the engine. And Scion seems like a sporty Camry with a tight back seat. Having not lived with any of these for an extended period, what is your advice, can purchase for about the same $$, thanks
  • For the first question, I think that both cars are fairly reliable. Toyota may be a little more so, but you should have no problems with a nissan. I own a corolla xrs and it is so much fun to drive, i test drove the sentra and i ended up with the corolla if that helps at all. Enjoy the 8100rpm redline in the xrs :)
  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    How's the steering feedback in them?
  • I just bought an 05 Sentra Spec V and I am loving it. The only concerns I would put up are that one: if you're tall like me (6'1"), it'll be a little tight, and two, torque steering.

    Nissan has done a better job in this model year to check the steering, but I can still notice it. It gets up and goes quick, and its Nissan. I was gonna check out the Corollas, but I see more of them around than Spec V's. Resale value isn't too shabby either, and obviously the owner of the dealership claims resale is there. It's actually hard to find a Spec V, took the dealer I was talking to a week to get one for me to test drive.
  • untchb1untchb1 Posts: 1
    I to recently bought a Spec V. I looked at the Corolla but like alot of other people to many were driving around. I test drove it to and it really didn't have what I was looking for. My dealer at Nissan spoke of the resale on it and compared to the resale of the Corolla in the past when I looked it up I went with the Spec V. The other thing I can credit to the Spec V is its quick and stiff handling. I was taking my daughter to the Zoo the other day running about Sixty with the cruise set. A guy lost some wood off the back of his pickup just up the hill. I didn't see it till the last minute about two feet high. If I had hit it I would have been screwed and the other scattererd lumber could have just spun the wheels and angled my car off the road. I know cause I work in accident reconstruction and I've seen it all. With the driving I've don'e I know the Spec pretty well. But with a jerk left and some breaks I missed the wood with about a car length of space when I passed it. The Caddilac behind me didn't do so well. I was never more impressed with the cars handling. Its pickup its extremely fast. My only dislike to the car is the six speed manual that sometimes if your used to your car shiffting itself you won't find it here. But it is well worth the buy and the torque you have pulling you is insane. My choice was the Spec V No regrets.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    The Corolla and Sentra don't have an independent rear suspension. I strongly suggest test driving both of them and make sure you can live with the ride quality. I personally wouldn't buy any vehicle without an independent rear suspension unless it was a truck. Those beam axles in the rear are extra cheapo if you ask me.

    Why not the Mazda3s? It has comparable acceleration and handling and it also has an independent rear suspension for better ride quality and better control over bumpy surfaces. IMO, it looks better than either the Sentra or Corolla and is the obvious choice. Bonus---the Mazda3 is made in Japan, the Sentra and Corolla are not. The Mazda3 is generally regarded as the best in it's class. The Corolla looks goofy IMO, and the Sentra is on it's way out ready to be replaced with a new design.
  • synpthesissynpthesis Posts: 28
    cars out there. Friend drives the Spec-V and I got the XRS last year. A lot of choice depends on your personal preference. Performance and speed (relative to my budget) were needed but so was reliability and low maintenance. Toyota wasn't likely to pull resale killing stunts like Mazda's doing with their 3's and whereas the srt-4 packs multiple punches... well it's still a neon.
    The XRS is a quiet non-disclosure type car, excellent build with reasonable space for a young family.
    Make sure that you are sold on manual transmission though as it can be tiring in slow traffic.
  • synpthesissynpthesis Posts: 28
    I was big on the issue of independent rear suspension until I read some article on the 2005 Jetta. They convinced me to try out the XRS. You have the firm ride that these type of cars demand. How do you take twisties when you are a soft and slushy Camry?
    A post in the Camry/Accord forum has me wondering why people buy numb sedans (Honda quit making good handling Accords because they needed the Camry crowd) then spend time/money trying to firm up the car.
    When the car mag guys test these cars to the limit and some then chart out their observations you have trust what they say - your tests are limited.
    Good suspension, sticky tires and a communicative steering will have you dreaming of the long route home.
    If you want to ride like a Buick - get one.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    The Mazda3 doesn't have a soft, slushy ride, and it handles just fine. It will handle bumpy corners a lot better than a car without IRS.

    The rear beam axle is a cost cutting measure and nothing more.

    "If you want to ride like a Buick - get one"

    Lol!!!!! So the Mazda3 rides and handles like a Buick?!?!

    The Mazda3 undeniably has a better ride/handling combination than the Sentra SE-R or Corolla XRS.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    "When the car mag guys test these cars to the limit and some then chart out their observations you have trust what they say - your tests are limited."

    Here's what the car mag guys say about the Mazda3:


    "From the moment you drive away from the curb, you'll notice a certain sophistication in how the 3 isolates, steers, shifts, and stops. It feels European. This is a good start.....

    ....You might think a car that can corner with 0.87g lateral grip and speed through the slalom at 65 mph would offer a tooth-chattering harshness of a go-kart. Not the Mazda3. Fluid-filled suspension bushings and an electrohydraulic-steering system help reduce noise, vibration, and harshness....

    ... Mazda's 3 glides over the court on sheer talent...."

    As a matter of fact, the "car mag guys" just picked the Mazda3 over the Corolla XRS in a comparison test, but it's not available online yet. You have to trust what they say........
  • fa1fa1 Posts: 8
    The fact that some people here sadly call XRS suspension tuning soft tells how much they know about this car. Unlike other Corolla models, XRS capable of reaching up to speeds of 138 mph (other Corollas are governed at 110 mph). As a matter of fact Mazda 3 does not hold a candle to the XRS in any performance test. This is supposed to be a high performance model with an 8400 rpm rev limiter and extreme handling capabilities. XRS suspension is tuned completely different than other Corolla models. Different springs, high performance Michelin summer v rated tires, shocks, strut bars, stabilizer bars, chasis stiffening. Corolla XRS suspension tunning is much more aggressive and stiffer chasis than Mazda 3. XRS is a lot lighter so it is more agile around corners and can be thrown around in the corners with more confidence because the weight does not backfire.

    Motor Trend declared that XRS was too extreme for most of the people to realize the full capabilities of the XRS atleast for those people who buy a car of this class while Mazda 3 was more friendly and easy to drive while offering a more city friendly drive.

    XRS is not a volume seller or appeal to mass customers. It has only 6 speed manual transmission with no automatic transmission available considering 80% people buy auto. It is only for the people who like hard edged naturally aspirated performance with the practicality and reliability and economy of a Toyota Corolla.

    Proof?? Well, pick up the July Edition of Motor Trend (not surprisingly there are references to it here) and flip to page 114. You will see a head to head comparo of Corolla XRS and Mazda 3. Here is the brief specs:

    Motor Trend July 2005 5 Sport Compact Cars Comparo July 2005 PG 114

    Cars: Corolla XRS, Mazda 3, Focus ST, Cobalt and Spectra 5

    Corolla XRS
    0-60: 7.0 secs
    Quartermile: 15.4@ 92 mph
    Lateral Acceleration: 0.85g (Handling)
    Slalom Speed: 67 mph (Handling)
    Braking 70 - 0 : 123 ft
    Curb weight: 2650 lbs

    Mazda 3
    0 - 60: 8.4 secs
    Quartermile: 16.0@ 88 mph
    Lateral Acceleration: 0.81g
    Slalom Speed: 62 mph
    Braking 70 - 0: 132 ft
    Curb weight: 2800 lbs

    Reading the complete article, it has 5 pages of tests and reviews about the tests. They pretty much admitted that the XRS dominated every performance test and if you go up in mountain twisties, XRS is the only car you want to take. It explains every different aspect of 5 sport compact cars and how the compare. XRS did better in every handling and acceleration test than rest of the 4 other cars. They did give Mazda 3 high points on more options available i.e HID lights, Optional Navi etc. Corolla XRS does not have a 60/40 split seat in the back to strengthen the chasis and hold the strut brace across the shock tower (for handling) so they marked it down on that and they liked the styling on Mazda 3 better.

    Nissan Sentra Spec V (car and driver, Featherweight Serial thrillers Comparo)
    0-60: 7.8 secs
    Quartermile: 15.6secs
    lateral Acceleration: 0.87g
    Curb weight: 2740 lbs

    The comparison is simple.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    Wasn't the Mazda3 tested in the Motor Trend comparo an automatic? If so, the acceleration comparison between the manual equipped Corolla and the auto equipped Mazda3 isn't really valid.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    The Mazda3 is not part of the topic here, Todd, so let's let it drop now. Thanks.
  • fa1fa1 Posts: 8
    You are right. The tested was auto. I think the question was more about handling and not straight line. Handling for an auto or manual does not make a difference. That is why I put the quartermile for what they had written in the article for a previously tested manual Mazda 3 2.3L 160 HP (It was tested at 16.0 secs in the quarter mile). I even quoted the weight for the manual transmission Mazda 3, which is 2800 lbs (150 lvs heavier than Corolla XRS) while the auto weighs in at 2890 lbs. Even with manual to manual comparison for straight line performance, the margin without a doubt is still big.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    "I think the question was more about handling and not straight line."

    No, you said the XRS dominated every performance test. You shouldn't have posted the acceleration figures without mentioning that the Mazda3 was an automatic. That makes a HUGE difference.

    "Even with manual to manual comparison for straight line performance, the margin is still big."

    No it's not. Other mags have tested manual versions of the 3s and they did 0-60 in the low 7s. The 3s hatch did 0-60 in 7.4 seconds and the sedan is lighter than the hatch. Around town, the 3s is going to be faster than the XRS because the XRS needs to be wound out more than the 3 to accelerate.

    Pat----I know the Mazda3 isn't in the discussion title, but it's a very similar car to the Spec-V and XRS. Can you add the Mazda3 to the title?
  • fa1fa1 Posts: 8
    I mentioned in my original post that Mazda 3 will feel stronger around the city because XRS really gets the power once it switches to the high performance cam at 6000 rpm that takes it way up to 8400 rpm and you get the big jolt in the back. The power at low revs in city driving with traffic is just about as a normal compact car. So that was never point of focus to begin with. It is much easier to drive.

    I was talking about quartermile and not 0-60 because first two gears do not mean anything in racing. XRS does a 0-60 in 7 secs flat while Mazda 3 does it in 7.5 - 7.7 secs range (manual transmission). However, this difference gets bigger as both cars get into 3rd and 4th gear where XRS's superior top end and closer ratio gearing and smaller final drive takes charge. Manual XRS quartermile is 15.4 and XRS traps at 5 - 7 mph higher in the quartermile.
This discussion has been closed.