Mazda 3 vs. Honda Civic Si

bunk1968bunk1968 Member Posts: 119
edited March 2014 in Mazda
I plan on getting the Mazda 3, but I have a friend that is trying to convince that the Si might be the way to go.
Just wondered what anyone has to say about the comparison of these two vehicles.
Is the Si a faster and sportier vehicle?
Which has more cargo room?


  • mz3ctmz3ct Member Posts: 23
    Your friend is jealous - stick with your feelings, which (in my case) have only gotten stronger after 5 months of owning the 3...or test drive the 3 again and find a big lot with a Civic Si in it (Wal-Mart?) and park next to it--get out and look.....decision made. zoom-zoom
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    back to back earlier this year when I was shopping. I ended up going with the dark horse option 3 at the eleventh hour. Before that, I was all set to pick up an SI. There are some differences between these two, and basically you sacrifice some utility (less stowage space behind the back seat, and two less doors) with the SI in order to get a somewhat sportier-feeling car. Which is not to say the 3 is not sporty (I am assuming you are considering the 3s hatch, which is the direct comparison model with the SI).

    But the 3 feels a little longer and heavier from the driver's seat, and has taller gearing (more widely spaced). The SI is geared short to be a revver, which gives you better power around town and in the twisties at the expense of great highway mileage. It also means that if you are not accustomed to shifting when you need power, the 3 might be a better choice for you.

    Plus the 3 has those 215mm tires, which contributed an intrusively loud rumble to the cockpit in the Mazda I drove - YMMV. I generally like spartan interiors, as long as they are not cheap, so I preferred the Civic on the inside, but I could easily see where someone would like the Mazda better on this count. And even I liked the exterior looks of the 3 better than those of the SI.

    The SI is tossable, which is something I would not say about the Mazda, which also has heavier steering. The 3 has more options available like HIDs and NAV, though, if you like that sort of thing.

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

  • ambullambull Member Posts: 255
    I have driven both and would agree with what nippononly has said, except the 3 hatch has 205 50R17 tires, not 215s. The SI has 205 55R16s, the same as the standard 3s sedan. I considered the SI to be "edgy" which was quite fun on my short test drive, but it might get tiring on a long trip. The 3s is more solid, but I did hear the tire rumble over bumps especially. I don't remember the same driving the SI.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    I definitely did not experience tire rumble in the SI - it was one of the more obvious distinctions between the two.

    ambull: good catch on those tire widths! I don't know where I got the idea those were 215/45/17s on the Mazda.

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

  • creakid1creakid1 Member Posts: 2,032
    & see which one got more tire rumble?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    they don't both have the same tire size in stock form, so you would have to buy one of them, then change its tires to match the other, then go test drive the other, and why would you do that?

    But they do both have the same WIDTH tire, and having a shorter or taller sidewall should not make much difference in tire rumble, IMO.

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

  • creakid1creakid1 Member Posts: 2,032
    When comparing my '90 Protege LX(sport-model) to the high-tech double-wishbone Civic EX from '92 to '00, I kept finding the Civic more boring especially steering wise, but the road noise of the Mazda is always a disadvantage & have eventually forced me to ride the Turanza LS-H quiet tires, which sort of numb my steering to the point of almost Honda level. Ride-comfort wise, the Civic was less harsh superficially, but my long-spring Protege w/ aftermarket Gabriel struts seems to ride more comfortable except when comparing to the '96-00 Civic on the fwy. Handling wise, the Pro is sportier w/ excellent front bite, but the rear twitchiness at the limit can only be tamed if you keep the throttle on, which can't always be done if a nerdy slow poke's blocking you on the ramp.

    No, the 4-dr Mazda3 2.3 does come w/ the 205/55-16 just like the 3-dr Civic Si. I test drove one w/ stick.
  • sschaffersschaffer Member Posts: 80
    "No, the 4-dr Mazda3 2.3 does come w/ the 205/55-16 just like the 3-dr Civic Si. I test drove one w/ stick."

    The 205/50-17 are optional on the sedan, standard on the 5 door hatch.

    I've owned high strung cars like the Civic SI, very tiring to drive on long trips and don't perform any better than base models at normal rpms--no thanks.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    I don't think the Civic Si is particularly high strung, it is more so than the Mazda 3, but it is also a sportier car.
  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    Maybe he meant the old Si?

    And I'm glad this thread exists... I've been torn between the two.

    I sat in a Mazda3 and didn't like the feeling... it felt enclosed, and I felt like I was sitting a bit high and I've usually gotten annoyed at gauges in tubes in other cars. But I love the exterior, and I would use all four doors now and then.

    I've test driven an Si and the interior just felt right. I liked the short length of the car and the seats were amazing. I wasn't too impressed by the steering though, and I've heard that's one of Mazda's strong points. Overall the car seemed a bit too heavy and too civilized for me, and that put me off. But to hear that the Mazda (and indeed, just about any modern car) is even more so, is pushing me back towards the Si.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    has that electric power steering, and it could definitely use some tweaking, if the '04 I drove was anything to judge by.

    Dunno about the '3' - is that still hydraulic steering?

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

  • creakid1creakid1 Member Posts: 2,032
    The 2.0 & 2.3 get electro hydraulic, which is still better than the pure electric found in the Z4, Golf/Jetta V & Civic Si.

    But BMW realized the importance of pure hydraulic. So after the "Z4 mistake", they decided to keep the upcoming 1, 2 & 3 series w/ the pure-hydraulic tradition.
  • sschaffersschaffer Member Posts: 80
    "I've owned high strung cars like the Civic SI, very tiring to drive on long trips and don't perform any better than base models at normal rpms--no thanks."

    Had an 87 Corolla FX-16 for 5 years--hp peak was at 7k rpm, didn't start to make power until you hit 4300 which made still made it more flexible than the current crop of high-winding Hondas, Acuras, and even Toyota's own "180hp" Corolla. The latter don't do anything the "cooking versions" won't do until you hit 6k+ rpm--totally useless in normal driving and the constant need to shift to keep the things in that high rpm power band is not only a chore but a dangerous distraction in traffic.

    I've taken my MZ3 up into the nearby mountains for some fun drives several times--climbs longish grades in 4th that would have the screamers in 3rd or 2nd and still straining to keep up.

    The interesting thing I've found is that the MZ3's engine is so smooth and quiet even at relatively high rpms that if desired for responsiveness one can leave it in lower gears in the mountains for extended periods of time without the mechanical thrashing one would encounter in most other cars. The rotarys had a reputation for being so smooth and quiet at high rpms that people would forget to upshift, the MZ3 2.3 is much the same. Even on freeways I often find myself cruising at 70 in 4th instead of 5th--no engine thrash to remind me to upshift to overdrive.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    "The rotarys had a reputation for being so smooth and quiet at high rpms that people would forget to upshift, the MZ3 2.3 is much the same."

    This is what I have discovered to be the case in my RSX, same engine as the Civic SI but with taller gearing. In fact, these are not merely words: on Memorial Day I took a trip with some people and one of my friends drove my car part of the way with me in the back. Well, lo and behold, I awoke from a nap to see him driving the car on I-10 out in the desert at 85 mph in third gear! Despite revving at 6K rpm, he hadn't noticed that he had forgotten to shift up because the engine was so smooth and quiet, even at those sustained rpms.

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

  • tb4204metb4204me Member Posts: 1
    I've owned the Civic Si Hatchback since 02. I've put 30k miles on it and I'm done with it. Don't get me wrong, this is a very sporty car in many ways but practically no matter what you do to it you've still got a mini minivan.

    - You can blow through 30mph in each gear. Up to 90mph by the top of 3rd. It has a very clean acceleration with no apparent flat spots and hums nicely even at very high rpms.
    - Oddly placed shifter feels great. It is totally comfortable in the dash location and does not force me to jar my arm backward to reach it like the Civic sedan and many other floor shifters.
    - Many compliments on comfort. The comments about long road trips not being comfortable are not warranted. This car is very easy to drive on road trips and cruises without effort.

    - The steering on my 02 is not good. There is a lot of body lean into corners and although it is tight and sporty it can be stiff and unforgiving at slow speeds.
    - Some trouble with gears. The gearbox is stiff and sometimes does not want to readily drop back into first if I idle to a stop. It was a problem right off the dealership lot.
    - THE most pathetic stereo system available. I've never seen speakers without magnets until I removed them from this car. These pieces of paper crap should be left out altogether. They may sound alright for about 6 months but they literally have no magnets... unreal.
    - The moonroof closes halfway and forces you to close it again for the other half. This is the most obnoxious "safety feature" i've ever seen. It just forces me to have my arm off the steering wheel longer and it closes so slowly you'd have to be brain dead to catch your arm in it.
    - It's a mini minivan.... good luck turning into something sporty. If you want a minivan go get the Oddessy... it's faster anyway.

    I've test driven the Mazda 3 and was quite impressed. The steering is significantly better although it seems the Si has a slightly peppier acceleration. It may just be the whine of the Si that is deceiving me because I couldn't feel a big difference.. mostly sound. And for the price I paid for the Civic Si, I am going to get a fully loaded Mazda 3. When it comes down to bang for the buck you can't win with the Civic Si. They are asking a premium price for a mediocre ride. Been there, done that.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    Stiff gearbox? Stiff and unforgiving suspension? Bad stereo? Two presses on the moonroof button?

    "good luck turning into something sporty."

    The Mazda 3 is not any sportier than the Si, but it doesn't sound like sportier is what you want anyway. That said, the Si (at MSRP) is NOT a good deal.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    I would say there is less body roll in hard cornering in the Mazda3. Apart from that, both are decently sporty cars. The SI feels more peppy around town - not surprising since the 3 is heavier.

    I wish all cars in this class had auto-close moonroofs like my old Celica had - one push and it closes hafway, one more and it closes the rest of the way, no having to hold the button down.

    The SI's stereo is kind of flimsy, but oh! Those seats! WAY better than the seats in the 3.

    The SI's suspension over rough pavement and bumps is a little more bouncy and bobs up and down more, which is why I went with the similarly priced RSX base, which damps out the rough stuff in a much more fluid and composed fashion, while still having great handling. The 3 is a little better in that respect too, although I would suspect the 3 is a car with a longer wheelbase, so that is to be expected.

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

  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    How was the Si more fun than the Mazda? I'll be making the same decision in several months to a year, and anything you could say would help me while I think entirely too much about these cars that I can't afford yet =].

    And yeah, I'd say the RSX is in a slightly different class. More of a sports coupe, the kind that might as well be two seaters.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    feels bigger (it is) and is less zippy when you hit the gas from a roll - this is partly because the SI's gearing keeps its engine on the boil, but also because the SI is lighter.

    On the flip side, the 3 would make a more pleasant long-distance cruiser, I would think. Tire rumble was pronounced in the 3 I drove, but others here have reported that is not the case with their cars, so maybe it was a one-off kind of thing. I drove the cars back to back though, and the SI definitely let less road noise intrude. The 3 feels much more enclosed, while the SI feels more open - it has more glass (lower belt line).

    carlisimo: if that back seat is important, you should probably go with the 3. It has a three inch longer wheelbase than the SI (I just looked it up), also four more inches of head room and a whopping seven inches more of leg room in the back seat. Not to mention four doors to load the back seat through...

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

  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    My friends are used to riding in my 2-door Tercel and I guess if they really minded the getting-in process, someone else would be driving. The Si's backseats felt better than the Tercel's, but I couldn't subject friends to the RSX's.

    The thing is... I've only tested the Si, and my initial thoughts were "feels too heavy" and "feels too enclosed."

    It was only after reading these threads that I realized that the Si might be the best I can get, as far as those complaints go. (I guess there's the Focus and Spectra5, but the Focus isn't doing great in safety tests and it's hard to work on, and I don't like the Spectra5's looks.)
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    The 3 did feel like it would be more comfortable over long distances. That said I've driven my Si 6-8 hours on many occasions and it's never bothered me, the seats are excellent.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    my old friend...........the MATRIX!!!! Or Vibe, whichever's styling floats your boat. And now there's the Daewoo-Suzuki Reno too.

    As to the Matrix, it is bigger than any of the cars you have mentioned so far, with a mondo back seat (which is a big part of the reason I bought mine long ago), but the XRS (Vibe GT) is fast, feels light on its feet, has some body roll (about on par with the SI), and never felt enclosed to me. You sit up high though - I know that is not for everybody. Be sure you don't mind shifting frequently to keep the engine in its power band if you consider the Matrix, but I would say the same of the SI.

    And hey, it even has cool stuff like the 115V power outlet and the glass in the back hatch that pops open separately from the door (neither the 3 nor the SI has that right? In fact I don't think the Focus has it either, don't know about the Reno or Spectra5 right off hand). And a rush like the VTEC Hondas of old above 6200 rpm. :-)

    A note in passing: they just don't make cars anywhere near as light as your early 90s Tercel any more, and all the beltlines have risen since those days too, so if you are sure you want a new car rather than used, you will have to make peace with those two facts, I think. :-(

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

  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    Thanks for all the info =]. I'll be thinking about it, and trying new and old cars out.

    I'm leaning towards the Civic because it's short, has great seats, and ergonomically it felt great. I do wish it had the Mazda's choice of colors, and its more poised-looking stance (when not lowered).
  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Member Posts: 3,802
    We considered the Mazda3 but nneither of is could get comfortable in it. We already had a 2003 Si and felt that the 3 was not worth trading our Si for nor would we have bought the 3 over the Si in direct comparison.
  • bunk1968bunk1968 Member Posts: 119
    Does anyone know what 0-60 times the Si and the 3 have put out?
    Is the new Focus a better competitor with the Si's peppiness?
  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Member Posts: 3,802
    The Si has been clocked any where from 7.4-7.8 seconds to 60. So far the best time I remember seeing for the 3s is 7.9.
  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    The Si is a little faster than its 0-60 indicate; it needs a shift into third before 60.

    The "new" Focus doesn't come in SVT form anymore, so you can't really get an Si competitor.

    I can't wait to go to the SF Auto Show (which really isn't very special) to sit in the cars I might buy someday. Last time I was turned off by the 3 on the inside and felt very good in the Si, but in real life the Si turned out to be a bit boring to drive.
  • creakid1creakid1 Member Posts: 2,032
    “The "new" Focus doesn't come in SVT form anymore, so you can't really get an Si competitor.”

    The new ST notchback sedan is even better than the SVT! Ever wonder why the production MazdaSpeed 6 switched from the show-car hatch into the notch? Mazda claimed that it's got the needed structure for performance handling. The notch's rear speaker panel acts like a rear-suspension bracing just like the RX-8 & the 350Z's cargo-blocking arch.

    The ST has the same SVT shocks & swaybars. Only the springs are longer to handle bumpy turns better.

    & its Mazda-developed 2.3 engine really really kicks [non-permissible content removed] when compare to the SVT's 2.0 that's weaker all the way until near the redline!
  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    If I wanted a sedan in that price range, I'd have lots more cars to look at... the Lancer Ralliart, the Sentra Spec-V, the Neon SRT-4, the Corolla XRS, the Impreza... but I don't. I probably should've pointed out what I meant by "competitor," so my bad there.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    I have never heard of anyone, or any reviewer, that liked the new Focus ST better than the old SVT. I certainly don't. Ss Carlisimo mentioned, there are a lot of better competitors for the Mazda 3 than the Focus ST.
  • creakid1creakid1 Member Posts: 2,032
    Test drive an ST, then see if its ride/handling/steering compromise is 2nd to none. & since the adoption of the Mazda-developed 2.3 back in late '03, the Focus' reliability rating "sky rocketed", per CR. For '05, 100% of Focus I are equipped w/ Mazda-developed engines.

    creakid1 "Ford Focus vs. Mazda3" Nov 22, 2004 2:45am
  • billmchalebillmchale Member Posts: 107
    I suspect that real reason that Mazdaspeed decided to focus on the sedan version of the 6 is the same reason we sat for almost 2 years having only the sedan version of the 6; Most automakers don't think that midsized and premium hatchbacks will be competitive in the USA. Heck there is even something to it; VW sells Jettas in high multiples over the Golf, even though the latter is cheaper and has more utility (and at least as good a driving experience).

    Even if the structural issues were the reason, they are a less compelling reason on the Focus; the squared off end makes than hatches that try to emulate coupe or sedan lines.
  • creakid1creakid1 Member Posts: 2,032
    talking about why the production MazdaSpeed 6 switching into the notchback for the structural reason. & the Euro market prefers hatch over notch.

    &, yes, our '05 Focus I ST 2.3 is the highest-performance notchback Focus in the world!
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    I've driven the ST, and while it is a very nice car, it is too "every day sedan" to really replace the SVT.

    As Carlisimo mentioned, there are a lot of very solid competitors in this price range (give or take): the Lancer Ralliart, the Sentra Spec-V, the Neon SRT-4, the Corolla XRS, and the Impreza are all preferable sporty sedans -and I'll add the Mazda 3s, Cobalt and Ion Redline.

    I'm not sure that the ST would rank too highly in that group, but it sounds like an interesting comparison test. Edmunds?
  • creakid1creakid1 Member Posts: 2,032
    Since I never drove the SVT. Can you tell me more about the 2 different steerings -- ST vs SVT? I've heard the SVT's ratio is very quick, maybe too quick for high speed. 'cause my ST steering's already pretty quick, but lacks road feel at parking-lot speed(no big deal). & I heard the SVT's steering feel is Miata-like. Is that true?

    I really thought the main reason the ST isn't as hardcore as the SVT is the 16" tires, but rides much more comfortably due to longer springs &, of course, the 16"s.

    If I live w/ a Mazda 3S, I'd pick the 16"s. I'm not an "Evo" driver, but a Rabbit GTI driver that likes raw steering/handling w/ playful controllable oversteer drift but still rides comfortably in a stable way. I don't really need the max acceleration or max corning g-force.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    The steering wasn't just quick on the SVT, it was very, very precise, and steering feel was excellent. The ST handles very well, but response is not quite as immediate. Hard to say how much of this is a result of the springs and tires.

    I don't know if I can compare the SVT steering feel to the Miata, because the cars are so different.

    From the sound of your GTI, I would think the ST and the SVT would both feel like boats to you!
  • creakid1creakid1 Member Posts: 2,032
    My restored "Rabbit GTI" is actually modified w/ softer springs. It is a German-built Jetta coupe Wolfsburg w/ Recaro-style front seats & no front sway bar. I simply put the GTI sway bars in it, front & back, & added Gabriel gas shocks. Plus the front upper & lower bracing. The car was transformed from a low-limit high-swaying neutral/oversteerer into a higher-limit low-swaying mild-understeerer but safe 4-wheel drifting w/ easy-to-correct occasional oversteer due to no weight behind the rear axle(the spare tire is located far forward).

    See my profile:
    /[email protected]@.ef36472/39!vuserName=creakid1

    This is my type of preference -- keep the Focus SVT suspension but w/o the lowered firmer-riding springs. That's why I jumped into buying this ST.

    CR found the regular Lancer poor in ride/handling/steering compromise. So I assume by the time they modify the car into more handling bias & even improved steering, such as the Ralliart, the ride will suck. As we can see, even the STi version of the Impreza WRX still rides less punishing than the Lancer Evo, per CR.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    I haven't driven a Ralliart, but I've heard good things - something to try.

    The ST sounds like exactly the compromise you were looking for then. A somewhat softer SVT, I think.
  • newcar31newcar31 Member Posts: 3,711
    "So far the best time I remember seeing for the 3s is 7.9."

    Car and Driver got 7.4 seconds with the Mazda3s hatch. The sedan is a little lighter, so it should be a little quicker.

    I thought you and Gee were Car and Driver readers?
  • creakid1creakid1 Member Posts: 2,032
    then your knowledge is incomplete. ;-)
This discussion has been closed.