You’ve probably seen two price-related news stories gracing our homepage – as Renault and Mazda have both released pricelists of their C-segment cars.
One’s totally new – the Mazda3 – while the Renault Megane has been given a mid-life facelift.
So, as they’re both arriving in UK showrooms in January, which one should you buy if you’ve got around £20,000 to spend on a new family hatchback?
Looking at the entry-level models, there’s not a lot in it price-wise – you can bag a Mazda3 1.5-litre petrol SE for £16,695, or a Renault Megane 1.6-litre petrol Expression+ for £16,745.
The differences start to emerge when you look at the technical gumf. The 1.6-litre Megane produces 110hp and returns 40.9 to the gallon. It’ll accelerate to 62mph in 10.5 seconds and emit 159g/km of CO2 – resulting in a VED band of G, costing £175 a year to tax.
The 1.5-litre Mazda3, largely due to its SkyActiv technology, will manage a combined MPG of 55.4, and reach 62mph in 10.8 seconds. Emissions are considerably lower than the Megane’s at 119g/km – resulting in road tax of £30 a year.
But what about standard spec?
The Mazda3 SE comes with 16-inch alloys, integrated Bluetooth and cruise control as standard.
The Renault Megane Expression+ also comes with 16-inch alloys and Bluetooth – but you’ll have to pay £190 extra for cruise control.
Base-spec cars never sell in big numbers. So, how do the Renault Megane and Mazda3 compare if we’re after a mid-range diesel?
Thanks to Renault’s price reduction on diesels, £19,745 will buy you a Renault Megane Dynamique TomTom Energy 1.6-litre dCi 130. A mid-range Mazda3 SE-L diesel will cost you £1,000 more, at £20,745.
Do you get more for your money with the Mazda? Well, for a start, you don’t get a sat-nav (you’ll be wanting the SE-L Nav, sir – just another £600), and you only get 16-inch alloys. So, er, no.
But how do the engines compare?
The Mazda will manage an impressive 68.9mpg, and reach 62mph in 8.1 seconds. With emissions of 107g/km, you’ll be paying just £20 a year in road tax.
The Megane also stacks up well here – with a combined MPG of 70.6 and CO2 emissions of 104g/km. That puts it in the same road tax band as the Mazda3 – but it takes 9.8 seconds to reach 62mph.
So, in mid-range diesel spec, the Megane takes it – as long as you’re not after outright acceleration.
Let’s go all out and consider the top-of-the-range versions of each model, with the diesel engine.
That’ll set you back £22,145 for the Mazda3 2.2-litre Sport Nav, and £21,245 for the Renault Megane GT Line TomTom Energy 1.6-litre dCi 130 (as Renault has ditched its 165hp 2.0-litre dCi).
How does the specification compare? On the Megane you’ll get 17-inch alloys, a parking camera with parking sensors, black Renaultsport seats and a sports chassis with lowered suspension. It’s pretty sporty, then.
The Mazda3 gets 18-inch alloys, a Bose premium sound system, black leather interior and front and rear parking sensors.
It would seem the Renault is a tad sportier – but the Mazda beats it when it comes to luxury.
And the technical bits? Well, they’re the same as the mid-range diesel. So let’s call this round a draw.
Which one would we buy?
On paper the Renault Megane and Mazda3 are pretty evenly matched – but when we tested the Megane on its launch in Portugal we didn’t think it offered much over its rivals.
The Mazda3 isn’t perfect either, as we found out when we tested it in Barcelona. However, it is hugely advanced over the Megane, and the petrol engine stacks up particularly well.
We’d like to see a smaller sub-100g/km of CO2 diesel in the Mazda3 range, but the company has said it isn’t going to happen.
Even so, if it was our money, we’d still go for the Mazda. What about you?