Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - bazza

It's time to let go of my Octavia 1.9, I've had enough of the increasing gearbox/diff noise and 3 wheel bearings and tyre changes later later it's only getting worse!. Currently on 86000, I was intending to keep it another 2 or 3 years but I don't think it will make it without a new box and expensive work.

Narrowed choice down to 2014/15 petrol hatches of the following. Mazda 3 2.0 120bhp, Civic 1.8, Auris 1.2T. Won't consider VAG again, even though nice to drive. Simply don't trust the engineering in the long run. Will keep for 5 years or so.

Important to me are reliability, DIY friendly-ness, driving pleasure in terms of handling/feel etc. Top speed unimportant as never go above 75 to 80 mph but I do like a car that's responsive, with good steering and roadholding.

I try to DIY as much a possible, so that's important, although will keep up any servicing until warranty is out. Then it's me and local indie.

Of the cars, I'm thinking Mazda 3 as best driver's car, Auris as most boring but ok, with best warranty, Civic as best engine.

Thoughts please? Have I missed anything? Mazda 2 too small?


Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - badbusdriver

Whether or not the mazda 2 is too small for you is a question only you can answer. Though we have just taken delivery of a new jazz, the mazda 2 was certainly on the shortlist, it was only the lower seat height (my wife has leg and lower back problems) compared to the jazz (and yaris) which put me off. Otherwise it has been very well received by the motoring press for the way it drives, rides and handles.

As for your other choices, I do like the mazda 3, but despite mazda going on about 'lightness', looking at the bare figures, unlike the 2, the 3 isn't really much, if any, lighter than the competition. This may not be a factor for you, but it is something worth consideration, given the civic has an extra 20bhp. The auris, I think, has around 120bhp like the 3, but as it is a turbo, will have much more mid range torque than either of the others.

There has been a lot of discussion on here lately regarding the long term reliability of small capacity turbo's, some of it quite heated(!). But if there are no horror stories lurking in the honest John review, I'd be happy enough with the auris, given toyota's overall reputation.

Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - SLO76
Three good choices with longterm ownership in mind. I rate them all but agree with you that the Mazda is the drivers choice. You'll probably find it a little lacking in low to midrange urge compared to your old turbo diesel but it just needs dropped a gear and it'll pull along well enough. It has lovely steering feel and a riflebolt gearchange which combined makes any swift twisting B road an absolute pleasure. Mazda took a lot from their years with Ford and handling and ride standards are top of the class.

Mazda's petrol engines are pretty much bulletproof and they're rarely and trouble in any other respect, thus the reason why there are so many tatty old 3's and 6's running around. They're hard to kill. Time will tell if they've finally got the rust issues sorted but from the early second gen 6's I'm looking at which are now 9yrs old I'm not seeing much sign of rot so hopefully they have. The Mk III MX5's do still have rust problems though.

The Honda is very practical with loads of space and is generally very good on fuel, 45mpg on a run and they hold their money better than the other two. There's always demand for a Civic, especially with low to average mileage. Nothing much to worry about here but they aren't as enjoyable to drive as the Mazda with numb steering and a slightly firm ride especially on Si and Ti models. Brilliant rev happy VTEC engine does lack low to midrange pull again but it loves to be revved and sounds great while doing it too, gearchange is spot on too. The SE is the best option in my opinion. Watch out for juddering clutches though, Honda seem weak here but it's largely restricted to the diesels.

The Auris is bland to drive and very dated inside (when did that digital clock come from, 1985?) but they're well made and although the 1.2 turbo is still new and untested it's unlikely to go wrong. They're comfortable and practical and the estate is worth paying extra for as there's always a market for any Toyota estate as they get into old age. For good reason too, they're great workhorses. The 1.8 Hybrid is a good and relaxing option if you drive mostly in town and aren't a spirited driver. They use the same running gear as the Prius and they've been tested to destruction by taxi drivers the world over.

I'd personally favour the Mazda but the other two would certainly be on the shopping list too so try each and find you personal preference, I doubt any of them would cause any grief. One note of caution though. They're all chain driven engines and all require the correct grade of oil and annual servicing to stay healthy and while you may save £50 a year servicing it with Dodgy Joe's backstreet garage they often use any old oil they have bulk bought in. It's vital they get the right stuff and also you'll get a fair bit more money when you sell on with a dealer history so it's worth considering paying a bit extra for that peace of mind. You can often negotiate over servicing costs too by getting quotes from other dealers and getting them to compete.

Edited by SLO76 on 21/05/2017 at 11:18

Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - Slow Eddie

Bazza has the same shopping list as me, for later this year probably. I'd be favouring an estate, which counts a little against the Mazda, and am inclined towards the Auris (hybrid, I think, with its intriguing and exhaustively tested technology).

One other thing that I'd be concerned about with the Mazdas (both 3 & 6) is the persistent criticism of road noise - what do you think, SLO76? As you obviously have a lot of practical experience of them. Personally I'd find it surprising that a major manufacturer would be significantly worse than other marques in this respect.

Edited by Slow Eddie on 21/05/2017 at 12:30

Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - SLO76
"One other thing that I'd be concerned about with the Mazdas (both 3 & 6) is the persistent criticism of road noise - what do you think, SLO76?"

Engine noise is a bit high on the first gen cars, the petrol engined models are low geared to make up for the lack of torque but the current model is certainly a good bit better. The weakness of a normally asperated engine is the lack of low to mid range pull so they do often tend to be a little low geared. I found the current 2.0 petrol much better but I've never driven the 1.5. The upside is they tend to last longer and give less grief over longterm ownership purely by virtue of being less complex.
Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - Engineer Andy

Sound advice from SLO76 as always.

I had a look over the Auris on the car-by-car section, and like you, was amazed at how cheezy, dated and poor the interior, especially the dash, looks. Whilst I appreciate Japanese makes spending more of the development costs on the 'oily bits' and electrics, you'd think they could make (as Mazda have done for some time and Honda, in the latest Civic in particular, are doing) a better fist of the interior - I'd pay a bit more if it meant them providing a more stylish (but still ergonomic and practical), higher quality feel interior/dash (presumably why Honda have really jacked up the prices for the new Civic [perhaps a bit too much]).

The exterior of the Auris isn't actually that bad, so it shows they do have some aptitude for styling. I just hope they don't follow the path of the latest-gen Prius, which in my view rivals the Nissan Juke for pug-ugliness. For me, its just a shame that the latest Civic exterior is 'too extreme' (looks like its already a modded car); the previous gen car looked better on the outside but bland (not as bad as the Auris) on the inside.

To the OP - if you do go for Mazda3, I'd choose the SE-L Nav version rather than a non-Nav model (worth the small extra amount and it'll be more desirable when selling on) and the Sport Nav (much firmer ride on the 18in rims and not any faster) as they are a good combination of a decent amount of kit and grip/ride quality through the 16in wheels and tyres.

One note of caution on the Mazda3 mk3 - it is quite a low car, lower than my mk1, so if you or other users have difficulty getting in/out of cars, that may be a factor not in its favour - best for all potential drivers and regular passngers to try it out (even getting in the back) first. Once inside, its fine, and to me has a better driving position that its higher-riding stablemates the 2, CX-3 and CX-5.

I whole-heartedly concur about keeping Japanese chain-cam cars regularly well-oiled with high quality stuff as recommended by the manufacturers, and on several occasions by HJ himself - doing so is what makes their petrol engines bullet-proof, often outlasting the bodyshell. No long-life servicing schedules - once a year or every 10-12.5k miles minimum to keep them in tip-top shape for over a decade, just replacing standard wear-and-tear items every few years.

Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - Avant

" I rate them all but agree with you that the Mazda is the drivers' choice. You'll probably find it a little lacking in low to midrange urge...."

Interesting thought there. SLO has reasonably enough followed the general view of what's meant in the motoring press by a 'driver's car' - where most of the 'urge' is at the top end of the rev range. But there are drivers and drivers - and although I like to get a move on, I prefer more emphasis on low-end torque. That's whgy I particlularly liked the 2.0 TSI petrol engine in my last two Octavias, and the 1.4 TFSI (F, presumably, as in Read the Flipping Manual) in SWMBO's Audi A1. These engines have lots of zing all the way through the rev range.

But, Bazza, I agree that as you're looking for a car 2-3 years old, VAG is probably not the way to go. You'll just have to try your suggestions out and see which suits you, and perhaps add the Kia Ceed and Hyundai i30 to your list, although they'll have had to have a full dealer service record to ensure the warranty is valid.

One final thought - every time I've test-driven a Toyota it's been far better to drive than the press would have me believe. I've never owned one but my elder daughter had four 1.3 Yarises whivh were lively and good to drive as well as completely reliable.

Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - SLO76
"SLO has reasonably enough followed the general view of what's meant in the motoring press by a 'driver's car' - where most of the 'urge' is at the top end of the rev range."

I do enjoy a sweet revving normally asperated engine, certainly in a small hot hatch (Swift Sport) or two seater (MX5) but over all I prefer a big dollop of midrange pull which suits my laid back driving style. By stating the Mazda is the better drivers car I'm referring to the handling, steering feel and gearchange rather than the power characteristics. I'd actually prefer it with a turbocharger to drive but it would harm its longevity.

I rate VAG's TSi units which are highly efficient and if it was a new purchase with intention of resale before 3-5yrs old I'd probably be recommending a Leon 1.4 TSi be added to the list even though I still prefer the admittedly slower Mazda's handling.

Edited by SLO76 on 21/05/2017 at 17:10

Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - Boroman
I've owned an Auris 1.6 Excel for the last two and a bit years. It is comfortable, quiet except for a bit of road noise on rougher surfaces totally reliable and I would have no hesitation in buying another. The much maligned dash is a little old fashioned but is very well screwed together and remains rattle and creak free at four years old.
Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - daveyK_UK
They are all solid choices if you want long term ownership.

All 3 manufacturers excel in engineering and reliability (Mazda diesels aside).

My only concern would be the 1.2 turbo engine in the Auris, is this a Toyota unit or a BMW one? if it's a BMW one I would be cautious.

The Honda Civic 1.8 is a brilliant engine.
Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - SLO76
"My only concern would be the 1.2 turbo engine in the Auris, is this a Toyota unit or a BMW one? if it's a BMW one I would be cautious."

All Toyota's own work. The only BMW units are the 1.6 and 2.0 Diesels in the Auris and Avensis as far as I'm aware. The 1.4 diesel is a Toyota unit.
Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - Big John

How about the Auris Hybrid?

As mentioned aboved - tested to destruction by taxi drivers - actually the oily bits are suprisingly simple - it's the electronic control that is complex but very clever

Edited by Big John on 22/05/2017 at 00:34

Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - Bilboman

My thoughts on eight months of - admittedly low mileage but only with good long journeys - Toyota Auris 1.2 T ownership in Spain. Very well screwed together. First time passengers have complained that the door needs a hefty pull to shut it! I like the dash, even the retro blue LCD clock! Lots of buttons and gadgets (Bluetooth streaming, self folding mirrors, automatic wipers and lights and "follow me home" function; hill start, start-stop...) and a funky touchscreen with built in reversing camera. I chose a denim blue colour, which still looks stunning, although a lovely metallic bronze was second on my list. I'm getting 40-44 mpg so far. It is a very attractive car except from rear views where it always looks dumpy; the estate is far less so.
A couple of niggles. I paid extra for a spacesaver wheel, and I am sure the wheel well could have been made a little larger to fit a full sized one. A bit of wind noise from the mirrors at motorway speeds. Front head restraints are not adjustable for angle and are quite intrusive (the rear ones are small and set too low for adults.) I've upgraded the puny standard-fit horn to one that can actually be heard.

Edited by Bilboman on 22/05/2017 at 01:49

Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - Engineer Andy

One thing I always have wondered regarding hybrid cars (like the Auris and Prius) is what happens when they reach the end of the warranty period - do owners keep servicing them at main dealers or some use independents, if they even can? Would it require a 'specialist independent' for hybrid, if there is such a thing?

This would be of special importance, as isn't the hybrid components or at least the batteries warrantied for a longer period than the rest of the car?

Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - SLO76
The battery, battery control module, hybrid control module and inverter with converter, are covered for 8 years/100,000 miles. Legally you could service it outside of the main dealer but it'll be next to impossible to prove it's been done exactly to manufacturer guidelines and thus claiming on that warranty would be unlikely also if you use Toyota parts only you'll find little difference in servicing costs, certainly not enough to offset the increased depreciation you'd encounter.

A lot of people don't realise that the brand specialists they use will only use manufacturer parts if you request them to and the costs will increase to near dealer money if you do. Most use aftermarket parts as standard. Not a big worry as long as they're of a good standard but your warranty is null and void if they do. What you are buying is their familiarity with the brand.

I'm friendly with a local VW specialist and also used to be with another so called BMW specialist (before he ruined my 3series by using the wrong oil) and they both concur. When I priced up a t/belt, water pump and a service for my Polo TDi recently the main dealer was only £30 dearer and the specialist wasn't even using VW parts plus VW give a 5yr guarantee on any dealer fit t/belts.

Edited by SLO76 on 22/05/2017 at 09:23

Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - SkodaIan

When I had a 1.2T Auris as a hire car a few months back, I was not impressed by it at all. It didn't go any better, or use any less fuel than the 1.6 Astra I'd had the week before, so left me wondering what the point was of going to all the effort with the complexities of a turbo. Also the huge bright blue rectangle in the middle off the instrument binnacle was particularly glaring on dark roads, with no obvious way to dim it.

In this sector, don't ignore the 'standard' choices of a Focus or Astra, both of which are actually pretty good. I'd prefer to have either of these over any of the three cars you've listed, and if you keep to the simpler end of the engine offerings probably similarly reliable too long term.

Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - Engineer Andy

The Mazda3 engine is far simpler (and more reliable) than any of the small turbo-petrols as it has less to go wrong. The latest Focus and Astra aren't too bad, though I have noticed each Astra's rating always starts off with a 4, then drops off in terms of reliability quite markedly as the car ages, far more so than Japanse rivals. I would endorse your comment about going for the more basic models with less gizmos as that's often where many of the problems lie.

Additionally, from the experience of friends and family, the quality of Ford and Vauxhall dealers and the manufacturers customer service is highly variable and generally a lot lower than Japanese makes as well (admitedly Mazda scores less well than Honda and Toyota on these fronts - I've been quite lucky with mine).

Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - skidpan

We tried the Mazda 3 with the 120 PS engine and found it poor. In the Mazda 6 the same engine in 140 PS spec is no better. The Honda with the 1.8 engine is not quick either, it has a very narrow power band and it is poor unless you rev it all the time. Not tried a Auris 1.2 T but the power/torque figures are poor compared to the 1.4 VAG TSi.

We are on our second 1.4 TSi. The first was in a Seat Leon in 140 PS spec and it was brilliant. We now have a Skoda Superb with the 1.4 TSi in 150 PS spec and as expected its not quite as quick due to size/weight it is still way better than any comparable car and is probably the best car we have ever had.

So I suggest you try one before making a purchase. I know you will be impressed.

Any - Mazda 3 v Civic 1.8 v Auris 1.2T - bazza

If it was a brand new purchase the Leon or Leon ST would be on the list, as I'm sure you're right that it's a great engine to drive. However, my recent experience of VAg as they age is not good, hence why I've discounted them. My view is that the Japanese makes on average are more robust long term. But I agree, VAGs tend to be a nice drive when new. I may be yet tempted. Part of this is that i will retire/semi-retire v soon, hence don't want monthly payments hanging round my neck and a view to long term ownership.

Other mention Focus and Astra. Yes, we already have a 1.6 Focus, 6 years old and it's been fine. It is an option, if i can avoid the impressive but fragile 1.0, which is difficult. Astras - I don't know much about, have had several over the years but their reliability ratings appear woeful recently.

Good, interesting feedback thanks folks.


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