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Mazda3 5 door vs. Scion xA
I had specific needs for a 5 door hatchback car and found few models meeting that criteria. I break it down this way:
Entry Level 5 door cars - Scion xA, Suzuki Aerio SX and Chevy Aveo.
Mid Range 5 door cars - Ford Focus ZX5, Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe, Saab 9-2X/Subaru Impreza Sport Wagon and the Mazda3 5 door.
Luxury 5 door cars: Lexus IS 300 SportCross and the newly released Audi A3.
If you buy into this comparison, the Scion clearly is the best in it's category - which would make people compare it to what's 'above it', like the Mazda3.
Now, if you believe that the MZ3 is the best car in it's sub-category, then you may want to compare it to what's above it - like the A3 - which is fair and would not cause people to cry out in disbelief.
The real key here is value. If you value a high quality, Japanese made, 5 door, and don't care for a Navigation Ssytem and xenon lighting, then you could argue is the Mazda3 worth $4500 more than an xA? The same could be said for the A3 and MZ3 - does the superior interior design and luxury mark deserve an extra $5000 premium over the MZ3? Only you (the consumer) can answer that.
If everything were just a paper comparison, the Suzuki Aerio also has a 2.3 liter engine with 155hp, can be had with AWD, features side airbags, CD changer, and 100,000 mile warranty, for well under $18,000.