Ford Focus Sport vs Mazda3 SP20 Luxury

6 March 2012

Ford Focus Sport vs Mazda3 SP20 Luxury

Ford Focus Sport and Mazda3 SP20 Luxury go head-to-head in this comparative review.

Value

Ford Focus Sport

$30,190

Sits near line-ball on price and is not short of gear either - 17-inch alloys, heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, Sony sound with USB, Bluetooth and voice activation. There's also satnav, dual zone climate control, manually adjusted sports seats, LED interior lights, autodimming centre rear-view mirror ... it goes on and on.

Mazda3 SP20 Luxury

From $27,990

The Mazda SP20 five-door hatch only has a six-speed auto (priced from $27,990 - $30,990 as tested). It gets a trip computer, satnav (which reflects badly on the windscreen at night), cruise control (with helm controls), power windows and mirrors, Bluetooth phone and audio link, dual-zone climate control, reach'n'rake steering adjustment and auto headlights.

Technology

Ford Focus Sport

The 60kg-odd heavier Sport gets the 2.0-litre direct-injection four-cylinder delivering 125kW/202Nm, sent to the front wheels via a six-speed twin-clutch automated manual. The Ford Sport hatch auto lays claim to 6.6L/100km but has a preference for 95 octane premium; the SP20 is better on the urban cycle. There's also a torque vectoring system.

Mazda3 SP20 Luxury

The Skyactiv powerplant is a 122kW/194Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder that packs a higher compression ratio, double overhead cams and direct injection. The engine has Mazda's a quick and clever i-stop fuel-saver system, which helps keep the thirst to a claimed 6.1L/100km of 91RON fuel. The six-speed auto runs a smarter lock-up clutch.

Design

Ford Focus Sport

Vision restrictions on the rear corners (offset by parking sensors) detract . Some are not fond of the interior design, such as the centre stack control set-up for the infotainment system, the steering wheel controls are not to all tastes and the manual-change button on the selector is pointless. Ford scores with a 316-litre boot.

Mazda3 SP20 Luxury

There's little in the way of change so you'll need to look hard. The little hatchback still has the looks department sewn up, albeit with minor changes to the front and rear bumpers, a slightly altered grille and alloy wheels with new designs; there's a distinctive blue metallic engine cover and transparent blue rings around the headlights.

Safety

Ford Focus Sport

The Focus gets five stars from NCAP, thanks to dual front, side and full-length curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, brake assist and rear parking sensors (which should be standard on all vehicles now, given the limited rear vision is being further sacrificed).

Mazda3 SP20 Luxury

The Mazda3, a five-star NCAP car, has stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency braking assistance, active front head restraints, dual front, front-side and curtain airbags and front seat belts with pre-tensioners.

Driving

Ford Focus Sport

The Ford sits nicely on the road and seems to have a little more to like about the ride, without handling suffering greatly as a result. The spacious cabin's LED lighting is a plus, as are the rear parking sensors (absent from the SP20). The fuel economy is not far off the Mazda's either.

Mazda3 SP20 Luxury

The Skyactiv drivetrain gets the hatch zipping around town without being asked to work; even when driven with scant regard for fuel economy, its fuel figures are still decent. It's a flexible powertrain that has the direct feel for which Mazda has aimed. The car is let down a little in the ride department on second-rate roads.

Verdict

Ford Focus Sport

19/25

Better luck
next time :(

Mazda3 SP20 Luxury

18.5/25

Winner winner
chicken dinner!

A close-run contest between capable kid-carters. The Mazda feels sharper in the bends but also over the bumps; the Focus is a little less disturbed by tortured tarmac yet still manages to impress when corners come.

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Written by

Stuart Martin

Published 6 March 2012

Published In

Head to Head

We compare, head to head, two similar models of competing manufacturer cars. Which do we prefer? Why? Find out in CarsGuide's Head To Head showdowns.