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

patpat Posts: 10,421
edited March 2014 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: 1,682
    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: [email protected] 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: [email protected] 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.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Okay, done.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    "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)."

    You posted 0-60 figures and then said: "As a matter of fact Mazda 3 does not hold a candle to the XRS in any performance test."

    I just thought it was kind of shady to post those 0-60 figures without disclosing the fact that the 0-60 figure on the Mazda3 was from an automatic and the 0-60 figure for the XRS was from a 6 speed manual.

    Like I said before, Car and Driver tested the hatchback version of the Mazda3 and they did 0-60 in 7.4 seconds. Since the sedan is lighter, it should be a tenth or two quicker.

    Was the original poster going to race these cars? I think it's kind of silly to be shopping for a Sentra or Corolla and be worrying about trap speeds and 1/4 mile times. All of the cars are pretty close.
  • fa1fa1 Posts: 8
    When Toyota calls XRS the "performance-driven Corolla", perfomance numbers do matter because that is why one will want to not look at a regular Corolla and at the XRS instead. It is Corolla in appearance and a Celica GT-S underneath. If you truly want a typical Corolla and looking at XRS, it will disappoint the owner because:

    1 - It comes with summer performance Michellin tires (winter tires/all season radials are needed in winter)

    2 - Minimum of Octane 91 premium fuel required

    3 - No automatic transmission available. Only 6 speed manual transmission.

    4 - No 60/40 split because of the rear strut bar and light weight fixed bench to strengthen the chasis.

    5 - Stiff ride because of sport tuned suspension.

    6 - 26/34 mpg (c/h) gas mileage as opposed to 34/40 mpg for other Corolla models.

    7 - Close ratio 6 speed manual requires a lot of shifting in city driving to keep the revs from climbing since the needle zooms upto 6000 rpm in no time.

    I could go on. All of these things are absent in other Corolla models and the Mazda 3 as well. All in all, Mazda 3 should be compared to Corolla S, LE and CE because like I said before XRS is not a volume seller. It will appeal to only the people who are into compact performance and tuning and want some serious performance (though not as extreme as an SRT-4 or WRX etc.).

    That is why yes when XRS comes in quartermile times and performance numbers do matter because it will defeat the purpose of sacrificing so much that other Corolla models offer. When the performance components and portion is taken out of the equation, XRS looks like a souped up Corolla with good bells and whistles i.e electronic optitron guages, sport seats etc., but not that much different from other Corollas. As a compact sport sedan, performance is the main strength in it's class where it outshines most of the other cars in it's class.
  • biggus3biggus3 Posts: 32
    The reason why the mazda3 is not being compared with the Corolla S,LE, CE is because none of those can hold a candle to the mazda. The only plausible advantage for a regular corolla over a mazda3 is reliability/resale and gas mileage.

    Moving along, lets bring up the issue of torque. The corolla peaks at 127 pound feet of torque @ 4400 rpm. And while the corolla engine makes 170 hp that doesnt occur until 7600 rpm. As a result, for typical driving, the power is fairly useless. You have to rev the engine to ungodly high speeds to get any power out of it. That is not to say that the engine is bad, just that it isnt very practical (unless you enjoy revving your engine to 8000 rpm at a regular basis). The advantage that the 3 has is that it delivers 95% of the performance of the corolla while being cheaper to buy, cheaper to fill up at the pump, and has more useable power. Another issue with the XRS is its handling. The 3 offers handling just as good and does it with out being overly stiff. I have also read numerous reports of above average amounts of understeer. Overall, the 3 is just a much more practical car while still having the plus sides to the XRS. One last thing...the XRS is FUGLY.
  • fa1fa1 Posts: 8
    Beauty is always in the beholder's eye. I personally think the very high trunk line, short deck lid and bland tail lights are a complete turn off in Mazda 3. XRS with it's lowered and wider stance and trendy lights in the back looks way better. Then again, personal choice. The side profile is alright, but it does not look decent without the bigger 17 inch rims. It looks like a cheaply built car with those smaller rims with hubcaps that I see on some models (maybe those are 2.0L models).

    As for city driving, regular Corollas are very light (almost 350 lbs lighter than the Mazda 3), though with less HP and torque than the Mazda 3, but they are not all that slow compared to Mazda 3. They offer the reasonable pep that is required in the city. Car and driver compact car comparo in November 2003 edition:

    03 Corolla LE ( Car and driver comparo, November 2003)
    0-60: 7.9 secs
    Quartermile: 16.2 secs
    Lateral Acceleration: 0.77g
    Transmission: 5 speed
    Weight: 2590 lbs

    The only thing that is average is the handling. Mazda 3 has a much better handling by a reasonable margin. The tested acceleration numbers given for a Mazda 3 are 7.4 secs and 16.0 secs respectively for 0-60 and quartermile, regular corollas are not all that slower. These still have the Toyota quality, reliability and superb resale. The price for Toyota reputation is something they have earned because Toyotas runs great even after 200K miles. The main edge Mazda 3 will have over these cars is the more available options and a better value for the dollars.

    XRS is a Toyota. People will pay premium price for a Toyota because of the reputation and respect they have earned for giving their customers high quality trouble free vehicles. When fully loaded XRS is compared to the fully equipped (after XRS is the top of the line Corolla model) Mazda 3, the XRS IS actually a bit cheaper and it is a small performance Toyota. That is a big plus and adds a lot to the confidence of the customer. It will hold it's value better than any other Corolla and it will have a much lower cost of ownership over the long term,

    As for your idea that Mazda 3 can handle as well as the XRS, I have posted the Motor Trend review and it clearly told that Mazda 3 (again, auto or manual as nothing to do with how the car handles) does not even come close to the XRS in handling performance tests. It simply outhandled every other car in the comparo. They even said XRS is the only car you want to take if there are dangerous mountain twisities involved in journey since it is much easier to throw the XRS in the corners with confidence and poise. It is much more agile and athletic, so to speak. XRS suspension is tuned a lot more aggressively than the Mazda 3. The downside, is a stiff ride. In the city, it should not be much different for normal driving conditions, but then again even Corolla LE, CE and S handle pretty decent and have decent power for the city as well. Why bring XRS into the picture?? For city driving, one should not be speeding or driving aggressively anyways??
  • fa1fa1 Posts: 8
    Might I add, about 80 % and not 95% of the performance is more like it. Comparing their performance numbers will have about 7 - 8 car's lengths on Mazda 3 by fourth gear. I have spoken about the handling above already.

    Revving up to 8400 rpm is one of the most fun things in a car. XRS is a total blast to drive and toss in the corners. The chasis never gets upset and acts unpredictably. There is nothing like shifting at over 8 grand rpm. Once the cam switches over at 6000 rpm and lift kicks in, it howls like an F1 racing car/Sport bike (the engine was built by Yamaha Motorsports/Toyota).
  • biggus3biggus3 Posts: 32
    A loaded Mazda3 does not compare with a loaded XRS in terms of price. A loaded Mazda3 has a navigation system, xenon headlights, telescoping steering wheel, audio/cruise controls on the steering wheel, 17 inch wheels, and leather seats (which needless to say the XRS does not). I purchased my Mazda3 hatch for $17,000 with a sunroof/6-cd changer, abs/side airbags and from what I can tell from toyota's website, the only difference is a TPMS which would have been an additional $1,000. A fully loaded XRS ran me to $20,000

    Not to get into too much of a mudslinging contest, but how do you figure that the matrix tail-lights are trendy and the mazda's are bland. the corolla has run of the mill red tail-lights with run of the mill turn signals and reverse lights. The mazda on the other hand has smoked glass with more contemporary lenses. You will need to elaborate on how you got to that consensus.

    Furthermore, the reason that I called the XRS ugly is the tacky looking body kit. It looks like it came from a 16 year old who inherited his mom's corolla and watched a few too many episodes of "pimp my ride."

    Your statement about the resale value for the 3 vs. the XRS is not entirely accurate. While history has stated that toyotas fetch good money for resale, this is no ordinary toyota. Most parents arent going to buy their 16-18 year old a used XRS. That being said, the 3 isnt your run of the mill mazda either. The Matrix isnt doing hot in terms of reliability (its only doing average for the industry) for toyotas standard, so who is to say that corolla will fare any better. After all, there are a lot of shared parts between the two. Both cars are too new to dictate resale values.

    I do say that the Mazda can handle as well as the XRS. There is more to handling than numbers. While motor trend gave their opinion, I have heard numerous accounts that say that the XRS doesnt feel very sporty in that respect. Below are some accounts from other press.

    "What the Mazda offers is an almost European level of sophistication at a Japanese price. A Toyota Corolla XRS is similarly priced (especially comparing invoice prices), but doesn't look or feel as sporty"
    -epinions review

    "[the XRS] is not quite as sporty as a Mazda3 GT"
    -canadian driver

    "...[the XRS] ultimately doesn't feel particularly confidence inspiring on twisty roads. Despite the stiff suspension, bumps and camber changes upset the XRS more than the Focus and the 3. The XRS also understeers considerably more than those cars. Based on the late arrival of enjoyable power and our chiropractor bill, the XRS seems like a poor compromise"
    -automobile magazine

    One more just for kicks

    "2004 America's Best economy car: Mazda 3"
  • biggus3biggus3 Posts: 32
    I wanna know where you got your numbers
    XRS -- 7.1 sec
    3 -- 7.4 sec
    difference 4%

    1/4 mile
    XRS -- 15.8 sec
    3 -- 16 sec
    difference: 2%

    (All measurements were taken from Car and Driver)

    Maybe 7-8 go-karts, but not much else. Besides which if you do the math .2 secs at 90 miles per hour is 26 feet. 2 car lengths maybe and the 3 is gaining ground. I have never denied that the XRS is a faster car. Im just saying that the 3 is close and has more useable power for everyday driving.
  • z71billz71bill Posts: 2,000
    Its been many years since I ran the 1/4 mile - I don't care much for 1/4 miles times anymore - but one thing I am sure has not changed - if your car goes over the line 1 inch ahead of the car you are racing then you win - they lose. It does feel sweet to beat the guy that has been telling you all week that he is going to stomp you - also feels pretty crummy to lose because you missed a shift or smoked your tires on the start.


    If you cross the line 26 FEET ahead of the guy you are racing you did not just win the race - but totally creamed him to the point that for years and years after the race you can say - man I really creamed you that day - it would be like winning a football game 77 to nothing.

    BTW in everyday driving I agree that 26 feet is no big deal.
  • fa1fa1 Posts: 8
    Go karts???Hmmmm. Imagining the cars zipping by at 85 - 90 mph speeds across the finish line, 0.1 of a second translates to 1 car length approximately. Downplaying the performance difference is like placing one's self away from reality. You did not bother reading the comparison tests above between XRS, Mazda 3 etc. Like I said before that by 4th gear XRS will have about 6-7 cars is something that will without a doubt happen in real life taking out the paper racing. I know it because this is what happens in reality. XRS top end and close ratio gearing and a smaller final drive give it a big edge. A Focus ST with the same engine is a tenth or two faster than the Mazda 3 because of a smaller and lighter size. Though, Mazda 3 performance will bring a smile on most people's face and make them happy with it peppiness and capable handling.

    Motor Trend, Corolla XRS July 2005 PG 114
    0-60: 7.0 secs
    Quartermile: [email protected] mph
    Lateral Acceleration: 0.85g
    Weight: 2650 lbs
    Transmission: 6 speed manual

    (There are lightly modded Corolla XRSs time slips running 15.0 secs @ 95 mph and [email protected] 93 mph with light mods like cold air intake and exhaust etc. that add about another 15 whp)

    Motor Trend Mazda 3
    0-60: 7.4 secs
    Quartermile: [email protected]
    Lateral Acceleration: 0.81g
    Curb weight: 2800 lbs
    Transmission: 5 speed manual

    In quartermile terms, that is almost 7 car difference since about 0.1 sec is around one car's length and then adding some for the trap speed differences.

    Car and driver (Corolla XRS):

    0-60: 7.1 secs
    Quartermile: 15.8 [email protected]

    As for the car and driver magazine review with 15.8 secs quartermile. It was not conducted on the C/D testing track, but on an unbroken in XRS, on a high alttitude and windy conditions.

    Taken from Car and driver magazine:

    "We got these impressive numbers despite the challenges of launching an unbroken in, peaky front-drive car at a dusty, windy high-altitude site where you need enough wheelspin to hike the revs up near the torque peak, but not enough to turn forward momentum into tire smoke. it can't alter the physical challenges presented by the environment. So we're happy with the 15.8-second quarter-mile and its 90-mph trap speed.

    Mazda 3 and XRS are far apart in performance terms and that is the way it is supposed to be. The reason is because the power and performance in Mazda 3 is supposed to appeal to wider customer base who like friendly power, great comfort, good peppiness. For a customer looking for a compact sporty car, Mazda 3 is a great bang for the buck. There is no doubt about that.

    Sometimes people do not want to get a crazy fast car like SRT-4 or WRX, but like something still reasonably extreme in nature and still have the practicality of a small four door sedan. XRS is not a volume seller and it is not supposed to try to attract every kind of buyer. There were only 5000 of them built in 2005 as opposed to hundreds of thousands of Corollas, Civics and Mazda 3s etc. Factoring the fact that XRS does not come in auto pretty much takes out 80% of the customers from the equation because only 20% of the buyers like manual transmission cars. It is supposed to be for people who like Celica GT-S or RSX Type S kind of performance with a high revving engine that howls like a F1 racing car/ sports bike, but want some practicality, be able to seat four and have a usable trunk space with the reliability and reputation of a Corolla and don't want to spend that much money for a compact car either. It indeed is a blast to drive with lots of high revving 8400 rpm fun.

    My point is that if you like Mazda 3 then it is because it offers a good balance between everything and for great value pound for pound for your buck and offering a good zippy ride while if you like XRS, it is because of the hard edged naturally aspirated high revving fun and superb performance with Toyota quality, value, good fuel economy, superb resale, low cost of ownership.
This discussion has been closed.