Twin Test

Model

SPECS

Mazda 3 G25 GT sedan Model Kia Cerato GT sedan

2488cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v Motor 1591cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo

139kW @ 6000rpm Max power 150kW @ 6000rpm

252Nm @ 4000rpm Max torque 265Nm @ 1500-4500rpm

6-speed automatic Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch

1376kg Weight 1370kg

8.6sec (claimed) 0-100km/h 6.9sec (claimed)

6.5L/100km Economy 6.8L/100km

$34,490 Price $31,990

Now On sale Now

MAZDA 3 G25 GT KIA CERATO GT

Equipment and value

The G25 GT is stacked with kit. It scores i-Activsense, sense, which which includes includes AEB, AEB, lane lane keeping, lane-departure warning, traffic-sign recognition and forward-collision d f d ll warning. The 8.8-inch display, while not touch-enabled, supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the GT gains heated seats/steering wheel, leather, head-up display and a 12-speaker Bose sound system. Mazda’s five-year, unlimited-km warranty is two years short of Kia’s, and the 3’s price is higher at $34,490. 19/25

The The range-topping range-topping Cerato Cerato GT GT largely largely mirrors mirrors the the Mazda’s Mazda’s safety safety kit. kit. Other Other spec highlights h hl h include l d front f and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate, d k d l l heated/ventilated seats, eight-speaker JBL sound system and an 8.0-inch touch display supporting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Cerato lacks the 3’s rain-sensing wipers and head-up display, but its industry-leading seven-year, unlimited-km warranty and $31,990 price add to its appeal. 21/25

Space and comfort

Slide inside and an upmarket philosophy is apparent. The G25 GT is bang-on in terms of quality and design. The soft-touch dash, handsome screens and tactile controls combine to create a premium ambience. NVH levels are dramatically improved over previous 3 offerings. The sedan is 200mm longer than the hatch, affording a useful 444L boot. However, entry and egress is hampered (for some drivers) by the B-pillar’s position. 23/25

Sporty is the theme, and it’s backed up by GT motifs and ‘racy’ red accents and stitching. While there are more hard plastics in the Cerato and some of the instrumentation isn’t as classy as the Mazda, NVH levels are similar and the Kia’s cabin has an ambience befitting the Korean’s sporting intent. In terms of space, both are dimensionally close and head- and legroom for rear-seat passengers are on par. However, the Kia has a significantly bigger boot at 502L. 20/25

Ride and handling

Despite the torsion-beam rear, the G25 GT shines dynamically. The open road reveals a fluidity, lightness and capability that rivals warm hatches. At speed the steering feels connected, the powertrain is responsive and there’s genuine engagement at the car’s limits. The trade-off is a ride quality that, when confined to city limits, verges on firm – sharp imperfections can transfer into the cabin. Still, the 3 retains its traditional keen handling prowess. 20/25

With suspension tuned specifically in Australia for our roads you’d expect a supple ride quality. But you’d be wrong. Stiff, but not crashy, is the result – the well-tuned dampers are its saving grace. Tied in with a multi-link rear-end and 18-inch wheels wrapped in grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber, the Cerato GT feels planted and engaging. While its persona is a little more focused than fun compared to the Mazda, it would be quicker along your favourite road. 19/25

Performance and economy

Powering the G25 GT is an atmo 139kW/252Nm SkyActiv-G unit. At 2.5-litres it’s not a small four-cylinder, and the extra torque is appreciated. The performance is respectable, if not sparkling, but the ratios of the six-speed auto (six-speed manual is $1000 cheaper) are well judged. Idle stop helps achieve the combined consumption figure of 6.5L/100km, but sadly there’s still a wait for the much-vaunted SkyActiv-X compression-ignition engine. 18/25

The 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder instantly feels the punchier of the two, and with 150kW/265Nm, the raw figures support this. It’s eager to chirp the front wheels, and pulls cleanly throughout the rev range. The seven-speed dual-clutch can be a bit dim-witted at the outset but it shifts quickly on the run. No manual is offered. The Kia misses out on cylinder deactivation and start/stop tech but returns a respectable 6.8L/100km – and gains a quirky fake soundtrack to boot. 18/25

THE VERDICT

80/100

78/100

Good things come in 3s

If you want boosted performance and more in-your-face styling, the Kia Cerato GT ticks a lot of boxes – while also being more pragmatic due to the bigger boot. However, the Mazda’s luxurious cabin, upmarket ambience and fun dynamics give it the win. Plus, the sedan bodystyle returns superior rearward vision (compared to the 3 hatch) and a cohesive design that generates a mini-me Mazda 6 vibe. Both contenders are worthy of your cash, but as a car to own and to drive daily, the Mazda makes a tad more sense. It marks a return for the desirable, small, sporty front-drive sedan.