By Emme Hall.
I’ve always been a fan of the hatchback. They offer compact handling, a sporty look, and more utility than their sedan counterparts. Today we’re looking at two popular hatches, the 2014 Mazda 3i Grand Touring and the 2014 Chevy Sonic RS. Which hatch will leave the Autocomparison board hot, and which will be merely warm?
The 3i gets a 2.0L four cylinder SKYACTIV-G engine, good for 155 horsepower and 150 lb/ft of torque. Power gets to the front wheels via the standard 6 speed manual transmission; although you can get a 6 speed automatic if you’re unwilling to row your own gears. 60 mph comes in around 8 seconds. EPA fuel ratings are 29 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on the highway for the manual. Expect 30/40 for the automatic.
The 2014 Mazda 3i Grand Touring gets you a whole slew of standard features, including 16” alloy wheels, power accessories, a multifunctional tilt and telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, keyless ignition and entry, sunroof, 7” touchscreen with navigation, satellite radio, a 9 speaker Bose stereo system, heated front seats, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alerts, and a backup camera.
Along with other cars in the Mazda line-up like the Miata and the cx-5, the Mazda 3 has dynamic handling characteristics. Steering is precise, but one has to wonder how much better it would be with the Miata’s hydraulic steering set up. The 3 series has received a newly tuned suspension and it’s lost its harsh ride over rough pavement, but still maintains its athletic performance through the twisties. The manual is always your best bet for fun, but the automatic is smooth and offers quick shifts, especially when in Sport mode.
A naturally aspirated engine is available in the Sonic LTZ, but we had the 1.5L turbo 4 cylinder engine. It knocks out 138 horsepower and 148 lb/ft of torque. Power goes to the front wheels via a 6 speed manual transmission; although a 6 speed automatic is available. 0-60 mph happens close to 9 seconds and EPA fuel ratings are 27 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway for the manual, and 25/33 with the automatic.
The 2014 Chevy Sonic RS comes standard with 17” wheels, power accessories, Bluetooth, a multifunctional tilt and telescoping leather wrapped sport steering wheel, satellite radio, iPod connectivity, heated front seats, foglights, a 7” touchscreen with the Chevy MyLink system, backup camera, leather and simulated suede upholstery, sport tuned suspension, and unique exterior trim. A sunroof is optional as well as forward collision and lane departure warning system.
The Sonic RS works just as well on a daily commute as it does in the twisties. The ride is stiff and sharp enough to keep you planted in the corners but not so harsh as to be uncomfortable. Gear ratios are on the sporty side and the steering is quick and nicely weighted. The 2014 Mazda 3i Grand Touring starts at $23,245 for the manual and $24,295 for the automatic. You can get a 2014 Chevy Sonic RS for a few grand less: $21,150 for the manual and $22,435 for the automatic. While both are fun to drive, offer crisp and precise handling, good looks, and a manual as standard equipment, the prize goes to the Mazda. Yes, it’s more money, but it is a touch quicker and offers much better gas mileage.