Mazda3 vs Toyota Matrix

evolmootionevolmootion Member Posts: 8
edited March 2014 in Mazda
Has anyone compared the Mazda3 and the Matrix before?


  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    this past spring, and considered the Mazda3 hatch before buying my RSX.

    The Mazda is much more nailed down - the ride is good but the handling is superb, and better than that of the Matrix. The flip side is the usual one: the Matrix is more comfortable over rough roads and bad pavement and quieter too.

    The Mazda has the better shifter and better clutch feel of the two, especially compared to the base Matrix. If you are considering the Matrix XRS, you can definitely get a '3' hatch for less money. The XRS's shifter is short-throw, but very notchy and high-effort compared with the Mazda's. Both Matrix clutches are so light it is kind of hard to tell where they are engaging, which is great for everyday driving but not so good if you are trying to have some fun!

    Interiors, well those are personal preference. There is not that much between them but one thing is for sure, getting out of the Mazda and into the Matrix, you feel like you are stepping into a minivan. High seating with a high roof. One reason the Mazda feels less tippy in tight cornering.

    The Matrix XR and XRS are two very different beasts in terms of how they drive and how they handle, so interiors aside they are too different to refer to in one discussion - are we talking about the XR or the XRS here?

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

  • evolmootionevolmootion Member Posts: 8
    I loved the mazda 3 when I drove it. I was completely shocked by the Matrix. I believe I drove the XRS. I'm still learning about cars in general, which is why I'm getting involved on this site. The Matrix was excellent on a road with many potholes.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    have a six-speed manual? If so, it was an XRS. If it was a 5-speed, then it was the XR.

    If you have lots of people-carrying work for that back seat, then you should lean towards the Matrix. The Mazda3 has about as much room back there as the old Protege5 did, which is to say precious little. The Matrix, OTOH, is comfortable to sit in the back of, even for long trips.

    BUT, if you are on the sportier end of the spectrum and will mainly use that back hatch to stow bikes or give your dog a ride, than you should lean towards the Mazda, as long as you understand the ride is harder and noisier - the better handling will be your reward.

    The caveat (of course there has to be a caveat!) is that there is something really intoxicating about taking that Matrix up to 7800 rpm, and if you don't mind working to keep it in the powerband most of the time (6200-7800 rpm) there is nothing really quite like it out there, especially not the Mazda3.

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

  • billmchalebillmchale Member Posts: 107
    I would say the following; the Matrix tends to concentrate more on the utilitarian aspects of driving; it has excellent cargo and people carrying capacity for a vehicle its size. The Mazda 3 concentrates on the driver; the 2.3 engine feels exceedingly powerful compared to the Matrix's 1.8 (didn't test the XRS, but I would expect the same until the Tach hit 6000 rpm), the steering was nicely weighted and the car just felt planted.

    In terms of comparisons, I would say that the Mazda 3 has no real direct competitors; only the 3 door hatches, like the Civic Si, VW GTi and the Mini Cooper, are in the same class in terms of handling and power (Ok, perhaps the Focus SVT, but that has been discontinued). Perhaps we will be lucky and the Mazda 3 will force the other makers of small 5 door hatches to start putting together packages that have both power and excellent handling.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    think of what Ford could do with the ZX5, given the handling quotient of the former Focus SVT...

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

  • billmchalebillmchale Member Posts: 107
    They could at least give it and the ZX3 the same treament they are giving the sedan (and why not the wagon as well). Lets face it, at the moment Ford does not have much in the way of compelling vehicles between the Focus and 500; at least until the Fusion comes out. Of course if they were really serious about competing in this segment they would bring over a version of the new Focus; even if they trimmed down some of the option, it would keep the car more competitive in a market that has really heated up since the Focus was first introduced (While the styling may be bland, the advance buzz on the Cobolt seems to indicate a much more capable car, perhaps one that will trump the Focus among domestics).
  • zukhovzukhov Member Posts: 34
    I think they are both great cars that suit different needs. To me, the 3 is a better looking car. The handling is good, and the higher lower end torque is more useful in every day driving. The Matrix seems like a work horse with lots of room in the back seat & great gas mileage. The fact that it's a Toyota and it rides on the Corolla platform is pretty compelling in terms of long term reliability etc...As I said, both great cars...My 2 cents
  • billmchalebillmchale Member Posts: 107
    I agree with the Matrix. Its definitely something akin to a swiss army knife amongst vehicles. Its not the best at anything, but it is competent in almost everything one could possibly want a car to do. It can seat 4-5 people in reasonable, even extraordinary comfort considering its size; it can haul significant loads; and its handling is just tight enough to put a little fun into driving it. The only area that I would say it is really lacking is in low end power; not a good car for stop-light races, even in the XRS trim (engine has to get up too high to get the power).

    The 3 trades some of the utility and economy of the Matrix for better handling and a better engine in terms of power and low end grunt.
  • mdaffronmdaffron Member Posts: 4,421
    Often it's the maker's choice of OEM TIRES that give the car its characteristic ride noise. Switching from OEM Bridgestone Potenzas to Dunlop SP Sport A2s and then to BFG Touring T/As, my 2000 Mazda Protege has gone from gentle roar to quiet tourer!

    I don't think the Goodyear Eagles that come on the Mazda3S (at least in my area) are known for their whisper-quiet ride.

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    very true, but then of course unless you are willing to waste the initial set of tires your new car comes with, those tires are going to define how the car sounds and performs for you for probably 25% or more of its life with you, as you live with them for 30K or even 40K miles....

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

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