2005 Mazda3 Sport vs 2005 Impreza RS Wagon

rcheungrcheung Member Posts: 5
edited March 2014 in Mazda
I'm trying to decide which car to buy. Could someone shed some light on the following?

- insurance cost
- maintenance cost
- reliability



  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I don't suspect you'll find big differences in any of those areas. Both do quite well, actually.

    Basically the Mazda3 will offer more options, even things like NAV, if you're into gadgets. The caveat with Mazda is dealers charge a fortune for parts.

    I have a Miata and we had a 626 and I experience sticker shock when I see prices at dealers. Just stick with on-line wholesalers like Roebuck Mazda.

    The Subie makes AWD standard. The only extra maintenance required is a rear diffy fluid change. It is easier than an oil change, though, just two bolts, drain and refill.

    For parts try Liberty Subaru, very reasonable prices.

    Do you live in the snow belt and need AWD? -> Subie.

    Sun belt and gas mileage matters more? -> Mazda.

    Good luck shopping.

  • rcheungrcheung Member Posts: 5
    Thanks for your reply. I live in Toronto, so yeah, white stuff is pretty common in the Winter!

    From what I hear, maintenance maybe cheaper for the Subie.

    Well, I test drove a Saab 9-2X, and my wife found the suspension too firm. I suppose the Impreza suspension is similar to the one in the 9-2X? I personally like the Subie better than the Mazda, but I'll have a hard time trying to convince my wife...
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    The RS wagon will feel a bit softer mostly due to the 16" wheels and higher profile tires. It might be the right balance between comfort and performance for your wife.

    Drive that and then a Mazda3 5 door. If it's her car primarily, let her choose. Otherwise you'll never hear the end of it. ;-)

  • mazda6smazda6s Member Posts: 1,901
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    So what?
  • cbmortoncbmorton Member Posts: 252
    Double so what, since the original poster is in Canada where the 3 doesn't come with side air bags or side curtains at all, period.

    I went from an '02 Protege5 to an '04 Impreza. I don't find there to be any real difference in terms of maintenance or insurance costs. Both have reasonable regular service bills and the insurance here in SW Ontario was about the same cost for both.

    As far as reliability goes, in the year and a half I had it the Mazda was probably in the shop about four times for minor warranty repairs (squeaky power window, rattly radio) and once for a bigger issue where the alloy wheels corroded badly after its second winter. All the wheels were refinished under warranty, although I had to rent a car for a week while the wheels were sent out of town to be worked on.

    So far after one year with the Subaru I've only had to take it in once for a non-maintenance problem, which was a rattle that turned out to be the fault of the aftermarket sunroof installer and not Subaru's fault.

    I was very happy with the Mazda overall, but it's true that the Subaru has had fewer problems over its first year than the Mazda had at the same point.

    That said, I think the 3 and the Impreza are both great cars. If I hadn't been set on AWD this time around I'd probably be driving a 3 right now. If you still want to compare, take atexeira's advice and try the '05 Impreza RS wagon for a direct comparison of the ride.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I'd never seen complaints about wheels rusting, but I have seen a lot of center caps that turn yellow with age on Mazdas. Our 626 was like that and so is my Miata.

    I was hit by a Saab and they replaced one center cap because it broke, now the problem is it doesn't match the other 3!

    -juice ('93 Miata, '98 Forester)
  • mazda6smazda6s Member Posts: 1,901
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    If SAC is needed then we could say the same thing.

    It's impossible to make it a direct comparison with identical equipment, so we just list the pros and cons.

    Mazda3 makes SAC available in the US, but not in Canada.

    Impreza has AWD standard.

    And so on.

  • rcheungrcheung Member Posts: 5
    I took a test drive of the Impreza yesterday. The dealer gave me an Outback model. I was surprised that the suspension was not as stiff as I expected. I asked the sales about the suspension as compared with the 9-2X, and he told me that the Saab had the WRX suspension, and that the 2.5RS wagon's suspension should be a little softer than the Outback model. Anyway, my wife and I both liked the big cargo space of the RS, and finance rate is lower (2.8% vs 5.9% for the 3). We will be getting the Subie. Thanks again for the responses!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587

    When you get it, come to the Subaru Crew threads and tell us about it.

  • ozman62ozman62 Member Posts: 229
    Excellent choice! I'd be interested in how you feel it compares to your Vibe.
  • rcheungrcheung Member Posts: 5
    I'll tell you guys about my feeling of the Impreza when I get it and when I have driven it for a bit. I'm sooo excited!!! haha
  • scissorqueenscissorqueen Member Posts: 1
    live in north carolina but when i do a search to find a 4 door mazda 3 2005, everything comes back 2004...even when i go to mazda.com and try to build my own, it only goes to 2004....has the 2005 even come out yet??
  • mazda6smazda6s Member Posts: 1,901
    Mazda is holding out on us. The 05s are shipping now and many dealers already have them in stock. So, either they just haven't updated their database yet (to sell more 04s?), or maybe they've farmed out their computer work to India or China.
  • kshariffkshariff Member Posts: 1
    >maybe they've farmed out their computer work to India or China<

    Why you have to degrade these people?
  • SylviaSylvia Member Posts: 1,636
    Let's stay away from politics/outsourcing, etc.
  • rcheungrcheung Member Posts: 5
    I finally got my car last week. My wife and I both like it very much, especially the handling. We were surprised at how little the car rolled when cornering. We test drove an Outback Impreza, so the suspension definitely feels different. It's actually not so stiff to cause discomfort. Visibility is excellent, and wind noise is not noticeable even at highway speeds. My friend commented that the rear legroom was kind of tight, which I agree with. The fabric was very nice, and the bucket seats were firm and comfy. The dash and instrument panels were so-so, I mean, the Mazda3 is a beauty when it comes to these departments. Overall, I think I made the right move in buying an Impreza instead of the Mazda3.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    The 2005 OBS got the same changes in the interior that Saab gave the 9-2x, so they've closed the gap a bit.

    I think the Mazda3 does have a better design, materials are roughly the same quality, though, IMO.

    Congrats on your purchase. First time it snows you will be glad you chose an AWD vehicle.

  • oldman32oldman32 Member Posts: 2
    I test drove the Impreza Wagon WRX and the Mazda3 hatchback a number of times.... I bought the Mazda3. This wasnt even a close decision. I was shocked that the Impreza with 227 HP was no quicker driving around town than the 160 HP Mazda! The Subaru salesman kept telling me that I needed to get the car up to redline to really appreciate its power. Sorry, but driving a car at redline to appreciate what it can do will leave you unfullfilled 99% of the time. The Subie also felt heavy and seemed rough & unrefined...... sorry Subie owners.
       Now on the other hand, the Mazda 3 with a 5-speed is a joy to drive around town, and for some reason, the 2005 I purchased seems much quicker and "throatier" than the two previous 3's that I had tested. I guess all cars are not created equal, or else I got one on steroids. So for $19,000 I got a great handling, terrific looking, quite quick Mazda hatchback that can carry a ton of stuff with the rear seat down, and get 32 MPG on the highway. And the titanium gray paint job is to die for. Now whats not to like about that!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Off boost, sure. It has more displacement and a higher compression ratio.

    0-60 is not even in the same league, though, when you open it up. WRX is in the 5s.

    The turbo reaches peak torque by 4000 rpm, boost starts building so by 3000rpm it'll begin to show an advantage over Mazda's 2.3l and then build a wide margin from that point on.

    You don't have to redline it to see the advantage.

    Any how, a more comparable car would have been the Outback Sport or the Impreza RS, not WRX. You get a 2.5l engine with plenty of low-end torque, no waiting. The extra HP compared to the Mazda is offset by the extra drag AWD creates, but 0-60 should be in the 7s for both.

    Those cars are also priced a lot lower, probably even less than you paid.

    The 3 is a fine car and should stand up nicely based on its own merits, though.

  • mz3ctmz3ct Member Posts: 23
    Great post - these were my sentiments exactly back in April when I chose my 04 3 hatch. I haven't driven in anyhitng else lately that comes close to the feel and response (engine and suspension) of the 3. It's tight, silky smooth, and superbly designed in every way - no let downs inside or out....and you gotta love the lights at night inside....great car...and the engine breaks in around 10k - even silkier now.....have fun!
  • napoleandynonapoleandyno Member Posts: 6
    i've also been closely comparing these two rides (impreza RS and mazda 3) for purchase in the near future. the 3's interior is miles ahead of the subie, in terms of room and comfort as well as the fit and finish. these cars are very similar in size, but i somehow found both the back seat and the front seat much roomier and more comfortable in the 3 compared to the cramped impreza (i'm 6'1 with long legs). that said, the only thing i dislike about the 3's interior are the 3 plastic "pods" that house the guages - i found them to be really flimsy-looking and i could see myself tearing them off while sitting in traffic one day. small complaint, agreed. otherwise, however, i felt that the impreza had the 3 beat with what felt like a more powerful motor (even though hp is supposed to be the same) and slightly tighter handling. another strike against the 3 is that up here in montreal it is easily the most popular new car, and there are tons of them, whereas the impreza still has a bit of exclusivity, if that sort of thing matters. factor in the impreza's awd and it should be a no-brainer for me, but i still go back to the 3's great, roomier interior and good steering feel, so it remains something of a toss-up.
  • cbmortoncbmorton Member Posts: 252
    Going hand-in-hand with the 3 being quite popular are relatively high financing and particularly leasing rates from Mazda Canada at the moment. Could be a factor, depending on your situation.
  • napoleandynonapoleandyno Member Posts: 6
    no doubt that is something to consider with the 3, cbmorton, although i'd hope that buying the car in the dead of winter (traditionally a soft sales period for dealers) might offset some of the price gouging.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    It was funny but when they had just come out the 2.3l models cost more than the base 6i did.

    I think prices have settled now.

  • crowcanadacrowcanada Member Posts: 4
    The Impreza RS Wagon and Mazda3 were both on my list recently. I went with the Mazda3.

    Mazda6s had a good comment: if you want/need AWD, then the comparison is moot, the Subaru is the only way to go. Unless you routinely drive offroad in the back of beyond, the Subaru is a superior choice to most any SUV if you want AWD.

    Relative to the Mazda3 I think the Subaru had marginally better visibility, better cargo space, a roof rack and excellent ergonomics. Drawbacks included a very grabby clutch, noisy powertrain, and poor mileage.

    The Mazda was the hands-down winner for quiet and comfort. Get them both on the highway at 100 km/h and the predominant noise in the Mazda is the road and the radio whereas in the Subaru the engine drowns out almost everything. The Mazda also holds the edge in economy, with about 20% better mileage ratings. Drawbacks to the Mazda are smaller trunk/hatch (than a Subaru wagon, anyway), eye-straining red gauges, and inferior visibility.

    I found rear seat accomodations in the two vehicles to be more-or less equivalent. The Mazda is better for two with more deeply countoured seating, but the Subaru had the edge in seatbelt placement and with three occupants. In front, the Mazda actually feels a little less roomy to me because of the very wide center stack. It was easy to get comfortable though with the telescoping adjustement on the steering wheel. All the controls are placed just right in the Mazda so they're easy to reach and easy to read. No complaints with the Impreza, I just felt the Mazda was better.

    In driving, the Mazda3 was easily the more tossable of the two, but it also had a slightly stiffer ride, basically a case of you give a little, you get a little.

    A note about red gauges. Lots of people, including those in the car journalism business, seem to think that red is a good color for gauges. I couldn't disagree more. If you've seen the lavender colour used in a Passat or the blue colour in a 1998 Windstar, then you'd have a better idea of what colour gauges should be. I don't care how sporty you may think red is - try driving for twelve hours straight after dark and then tell me how cool the red looks. That said, the red colour wasn't enough to stop me from buying a Mazda3 and, although I'll never love the red, you do get used to it.

    The Subaru should win in the bad weather, but more important than the AWD is a good set of rubber. AWD is of limited value if you don't have good contact with the road. I'll find out the wisdom (or lack thereof) of that statement when the winter weather arrives.

    Ultimately, the noise and the mileage are what disqualified the Subaru for me. If the mileage had been comparable to what I could expect from the Mazda3, then it would have been a much tougher decision. It just comes down to my not wanting to pay the gas premium 365 days a year for the added security the AWD would deliver on the half dozen days a year when it really matters.

    As for the WRX, the insurance cost would be the killer there! The Mazda3 and Impreza were similarly weighted, but the WRX is in a league beyond them.

    My thoughts (and lots of them). Your mileage my vary.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    The MazdaSpeed version of the 6 will get AWD, so perhaps this feature will come to future versions of the 3?

    Imagine that 276hp turbo 2.3l with AWD coupled to the lighter 3...mmmm.

    I'm surprised that Mazda chose the bigger 6 to go EVO and STi hunting, actually. The 3 might have been a better choice.

  • napoleandynonapoleandyno Member Posts: 6
    great post, crowcanada - lots of food for thought. while i won't be driving through blizzard conditions 365 days a year (though montreal can get pretty gnarly), i am curious enough about the awd experience that i'd like to own a car with it at least once. i'm surprised you found the handling to be noticeably tighter in the mazda, as i found the subaru RS to be just as tossable and nimble as the 3, if not more so. the guages in the mazda didn't bother me too much, but you're right, you always hear journalists raving about the bmw and older audi red guages, but i couldn't think of a more unpleasant color to have shining in front of me over a prolonged period.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    The RS has the same suspension as the WRX, FWIW.

    The tires stink, though.

  • audia8qaudia8q Member Posts: 3,138
    I have not seen anything definite...but I have a feeling we will see AWD in MZ3. Not right away but maybe with the first 'refresh'...
  • el_bagadorel_bagador Member Posts: 28
    hope this conversation can be resurrected. i tested the 3 and the matrix xrs this weekend, and the maz blew the doors off the trix in every aspect. i'm now going to try an impreza rs (the wrx is out of my range $$-wise) to see what that feels like. my main concerns in comparing these two are:

    reliability--did the 3 work out the kinks from the first model year yet?

    gas mileage--have read varying thing on the difference between these two cars.

    parts replacements--somebody said earlier that dealers overcharge for maz parts...what if i don't get them from the dealer? are these cars comperable in routine maint/wear and tear costs?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    A/C was the biggest issue for the first model year of the Mazda3. The Mazda faithful say they've worked it out.

    When I go to a dealer parts prices I'm quoted are astronomical. A wheel bearing cost us $900, an O2 sensor, part only, cost $220. My Miata's gas cap was $28 and oil filters are $8.

    So plan on going to wholesalers. I've used Roebuck Mazda with some luck, but haven't ordered anything in a long time.

    We dumped our 626 when it became a money pit. My Miata is fine, as are our 2 Subies.

    Subaru parts prices have been lower, in my experience, with or without a wholesaler. Service can still be pricey, though.

  • el_bagadorel_bagador Member Posts: 28
    how about service charges on a mazda? cheaper? more costly? i don't plan on having a dealer work on my car for anything that isn't warranty-related, since this issue isn't unique to mazda in experience. i drive a 92 saab 900 now, and the dealer prices on stuff are rediculous. and the labor is rediculous no matter where i take it. are mazda parts just generally expensive, even if i'm going through a local mechanic?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I did the service myself. It was my wife's car, the 626.

    But when it broke down we'd go to the dealer for repairs, and it just seemed like we could not walk out of there without spending $500-900 or so every time.

    In contrast my Miata's been excellent.

  • creakid1creakid1 Member Posts: 2,032
    The Consumer Reports 2005 future car issue shows the Mazda6 having a "below average rating" in reliability history, while the reliability history of the domestic-built '03-04 Focus, which a portion of them come w/ Mazda 2.3 engine, is "above average". Imagine how reliable the Focus is when all '05's come w/ Mazda engines!

    Also, the Miata is reliable, unlike the rotary RX-8.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    New models have their issues, but once things settle down I bet Mazda is above average, at least slightly.

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    it has been hard for a long time to find good dealer service for either Mazdas or Subarus. That is a common problem with both brands, it would seem. Luckily, we have a local Subaru guru who runs a really tight ship in a little independent shop near me, and he beats the dealer prices for almost everything by about a third. However, OEM parts for both brands are pricey.

    When I had my Outback Sport (previous gen Impreza with bigger tires than the rest of the line and two-tone paint), the most fun I had was driving it rally-style down dirt roads. It was an absolute blast for that due to the 50/50 AWD distribution and the extra-long suspension. If only you could try out today's Impreza RS under the same conditions, you would probably buy it on the spot, it is that much fun.

    On the street though, the Impreza will supply a lot more understeer than the MZ3 because of the AWD. There will also be more body roll, and an altogether less "sporty" experience. It also weighs a couple hundred pounds more than the MZ3. But just remember my little story - the Impreza is a lot of fun to throw around on the road, especially where the pavement turns to dirt, and so sure-footed it is really hard to place a tire wrong.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • billmchalebillmchale Member Posts: 107
    Why would the AWD make the impreza understeer more? If anything I thought it would tend to balance a car out between understeer and oversteer? Isn't understeer generally more a characteristic of FWD more so than RWD cars?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    In a steady state Subies tend to understeer (same with FWD), but it's easy to get the rear end out on just about any of them except for the VDC, which has stability control.

    Lift the throttle or add more in that corner, you can get the tail out.

    If you want even more neutral handling, the SPT rear sway bar wholesales for just $78, the 18mm one. The 20mm SPT bar wholesales for just $82. And it's just 4 bolts to install them (I've installed 2 myself).

    Stock bars vary from 13-19mm, but it's a cheap and easy upgrade if you don't like understeer.

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