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Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Mazda 3 test: two compacts and one UFO

Achim Hartmann
Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Mazda 3 tested
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S they are also part of it the people who refuse to accept any trend? Who would never buy an iPhone and would rather watch black and white strips by Finnish experimental filmmakers instead of Hollywood blockbusters? Then you certainly wouldn't find a VW Golf in your garage, namesake and top seller in its class? We thought so and therefore are testing three compact alternatives with the Ford Focus, Mazda 3 and Honda Civic, which want to convince with their very individual strengths.

Although not as angular as its predecessor, the new one is falling Honda Civic still on the road like a UFO that was wrong about the planet. His fans are happy to forgive him that the steeply sloping front and the crossbar above the rear window do not exactly increase the clarity. The futuristic dashboard with a combination of analog instruments and digital displays, on the other hand, is less of a mystery than initially assumed. Apart from the cumbersome on-board computer, even newbies can get by with the clearly labeled buttons and the clear steering wheel remote control.

Honda Civic 2.2 i-DTEC with cinema seats

The interior concept was even more practical. Honda stayed true to the cinema seat seating in the rear, which means that the Honda Civic can be loaded more flexibly than many a van. If the seat is raised, a load space is created from the floor panel to the roof lining, in which bicycles or flat screens can be transported upright. When the backrest is folded down, the rear seat dips down so cleverly that there is a huge trunk with a level loading floor. The disadvantage of the clever construction is a less relaxed sitting position for the backbenchers. Since the tank is located in the middle, the vehicle floor rises noticeably.

Speaking of the tank: In the Honda Civic 2.2 i-DTEC, it empties particularly slowly. With a minimum consumption of 4.4 L /100 km and a test consumption of 5.9 liters, the Honda Civic is one of the most economical compact cars. The 2.2-liter four-cylinder is anything but a joyless eco-drive. With 150 hp and 350 Nm torque, it ensures a relaxed and confident driving experience despite the long gear ratio.

However, the developers sacrificed the cornering skills of its predecessor in favor of better suspension comfort. So the Honda Civic 2.2 i-DTEC no longer gives in so smoothly, andits sterile steering gives little road contact. On the other hand, despite tight coordination, it convinces with proper rolling and well-insulated chassis noise.

Mazda 3 shoots over the target at full throttle

What is particularly noticeable when switching to the Mazda 3 2.2 MRZ-CD. When trying to put it into the race as a sporty alternative à la BMW 1 Series, the engineers went over the top at full throttle. Its unyielding suspension and its bumpy chassis not only spoil its comfort, it also ensures fidgety, restless handling on bad roads. It's a shame, because the Mazda 3 has what it takes to be an athlete on a flat track - also because the powerful 2.2-liter diesel with 360 Nm of torque goes to work more spontaneously and with more revving than the four-cylinder of its competitors. In the test, however, he approved 1.3 liters of diesel more per 100 km than the Honda Civic 2.2 i-DTEC.

The body impression is also ambiguous. The Mazda 3 convinces with its airy feeling of space, plenty of headroom in the rear and a problem-free overview. However, the extremely mediocre appearance of the material costs sympathy. Scratch-sensitive hard plastic surfaces, the simplest window regulator switches without lighting or randomly mixed up displays are disappointing, as is the tinny door closing noise. Some small cars that are half as expensive are therefore of higher quality.

In the Ford Focus, however, passengers feel at home right away. Surfaces and controls are a whole class better, and it has by far the most comfortable seats at the front and rear. In addition, the Ford can be equipped most extensively. It is the only one that can be ordered in the tested version with a sunroof, automatic and adaptive cruise control. However, if you take on a lavishly furnished Focus, you would do well to swap your night reading for its operating instructions for a while. Just coping with the 22 print options on the steering wheel is reminiscent of programming an eighties video recorder.

Ford Focus combines sportiness and Comfort

In return, the Ford Focus 2.0 TDCi shows its two opponents that sportiness and comfort do not have to be mutually exclusive. Although it conceals short and long bumps most smoothly, it plunges itself seamlessly into turns. It is the most fun with its direct and communicative steering and can be directed with wonderful precision. It suits the relaxed nature that he largely refrains from understeering or threatening swaying and comes up with the most powerful brakes in the test. Despite the slight displacement, power and torque deficit of its two-liter diesel, it can keep up with the two more powerful competitors thanks to the shorter gear ratio.

The well-balanced Ford Focus 2.0 TDCi does not let its clear lead in the property evaluation be spoiled by the higher costs - although it is a bit more expensive than Titanium and the two Japanese have more extensive standard equipment (including 17-inch wheels and Parking beeper or reversing camera) and a three-year warranty instead of just two. Asphalt revolver Honda Civic 2.2 i-DTEC is stalking its way up again, while the Mazda 3 2.2 MRZ-CD cannot convince with its individual strengths or particular balance. And that means third place for the Mazda 3.

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