Review - 2023 Mazda 3 vs Toyota Corolla Comparison

By Alexi Falson on 28 Jan 2024
image for Review - 2023 Mazda 3 vs Toyota Corolla Comparison Don’t be fooled by their size - the Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla are two absolute giants of the small car segment.

While the market moves increasingly toward larger SUV packages, the Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla are a much-needed reminder of just how much value, driving enjoyment and style are on offer in the small car market.

Toyota’s Corolla lineup makes for one of the most fuel-efficient small car packages on the market, while the Mazda 3 remains one of the most attractive packages and handles like a dream.

If you’re tossing up which is your best option between the latest Toyota Corolla and the Mazda 3 here in Australia, you’re in luck, because we’re taking a closer look and providing you with our favourite.

Toyota Corolla OnlineAuto Rating 8/10

Toyota Corolla Pros

  • The fuel-efficiency king of the small car segment 

  • Comfortable, user-friendly around town

  • Generous features list for base model

Toyota Corolla Cons

  • Small boot in hatchback form 

  • Some safety equipment reserved for higher-ranking variants 

  • Bland interior design

Mazda 3 OnlineAuto Rating 8/10 

Mazda 3 Pros

  • More active safety equipment in the base model 

  • Excellent handling

  • Attractive and practical interior

Mazda 3 Cons

  • Firmer ride  

  • No hybrid variants

  • Pricier servicing costs

Mazda 3 & Toyota Corolla Competition

Mazda 3 & Toyota Corolla

Hyundai i30 & i30 Sedan
Kia Cerato
Honda Civic
Volkswagen Golf
Skoda Scala

Mazda 3 Starting Price: $30,320

Toyota Corolla Starting Price: $29,610

OnlineAuto Savings: Enquire now

How Much Does the Toyota Corolla Range Cost?

The Toyota Corolla range is priced from $29,270 for the entry-level Ascent Sport sedan, while the Ascent Sport hatchback is priced at $29,610, while the Ascent Sport Hybrid is priced at $32,110.

Moving to the Corolla SX sedan and hatch brings the price tag up to $32,320 and $32,760, respectively, while the SX Hybrid Sedan and Hatchback are priced at $34,920 and $35,260, respectively.

Finally, the range-topping Corolla ZR hatch and sedan are priced at $36,600 a piece, while the Corolla ZR Hybrid is priced at $39,100 for the hatchback and $40,260 for the ZR Hybrid Sedan.

How Much Does the Mazda 3 Range Cost?

Prices for the Mazda 3 range kick off from $30,320 for the entry-level Mazda 3 G20 Pure hatch & sedan, while the Mazda 3 G20 Evolve is priced at $31,870 and stepping up to the Mazda 3 G20 Touring hatch & sedan brings the price to $34,520.

Mazda’s more powerful G25 Evolve SP hatch & sedan are priced at $34,520, with prices rising to $38,420 for the Mazda 3 G25 GT and up to $42,320 for the range-topping Mazda 3 G25 Astina hatch & sedan.

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Toyota Corolla (ASCENT SPORT) Specifications

Model Date 2023
Series MZEA12R
Drive FWD
Engine PDFI
Engine capacity 1987
Engine configuration VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM / 16 valves
Engine RPM 6000 / 4600
Cylinders 4
Torque 202
KW 126
Fuel tank size 50.0
Fuel usage specs 6.0 / 0
CO2 137
ANCAP security rating 5

What Features Does the Toyota Corolla Have?

Toyota’s entry-level Corolla Ascent Sport comes riding on 16-inch alloys and receives bi-LED headlights with LED tail lights and daytime running lamps, adaptive cruise control, cloth upholstery, a rear-view camera and an 8.0-inch infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.

Stepping up to the Corolla SX adds climate control, LED fog lights, keyless entry & start, wireless smartphone charging, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a leatherette steering wheel and some added safety equipment.

Toyota’s range-topping Corolla ZR range picks up a set of 18-inch alloys, heated sports seats, a head-up display, ambient lighting, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, upgraded JBL sound system and a panoramic sunroof in the case of the ZR Sedan.

Toyota Corolla Range Features:

  • 16-inch alloys

  • bi-LED headlights, LED tail lights & daytime running lamps 

  • Adaptive cruise control 

  • Cloth upholstery 

  • Rear-view camera 

  • 8.0-inch infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto 

  • LED fog lights (SX)

  • Leatherette steering wheel (SX)

  • Wireless smartphone charging (SX)

  • 18-inch alloys (ZR)

  • Heated sport seats (ZR)

  • Head-up display (ZR)

  • 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster (ZR)

  • JBL sound system (ZR) 

  • Panoramic sunroof (ZR Sedan)

Mazda 3 (G20 PURE) Specifications

Model Date 2023
Model MAZDA3
Series 300P
Variant G20 PURE
Transmission 6 SP AUTOMATIC
Drive FWD
Engine DIRFI
Engine capacity 1998
Engine configuration VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM / 16 valves
Engine RPM 6000 / 4000
Cylinders 4
Torque 200
KW 114
Fuel tank size 51.0
Fuel usage specs 6.2 / 0
CO2 146
ANCAP security rating 5

What Features Does the Mazda 3 Have?

Mazda’s entry-level Mazda 3 G20 Pure comes riding on 16-inch alloys and picks up automatic LED headlights, cloth upholstery with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear lever, adaptive cruise control, a rear-view camera with rear parking sensors, a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster and an 8.8-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.

Stepping up to the G20 Evolve adds a set of 18-inch alloys, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone climate control, rear air vents and a folding centre armrest in the rear of the cabin.

Mazda’s G20 Touring picks up leather upholstery with a power-adjustable driver’s seat, keyless entry, wireless smartphone charging and wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, and a pair of USB C ports.

Moving to the Mazda 3 G25 Evolve SP adds a set of black alloy wheels and a black grille, black cloth upholstery, keyless entry, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, while the G25 GT picks up a 10.25-inch infotainment system, heated steering wheel and front seats and black leather upholstery.

Finally, the range-topping Mazda 3 G25 Astina receives adaptive LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, black or burgundy leather upholstery, front parking sensors and some added safety equipment.

Mazda 3 Range Features

  • 16-inch alloys 

  • Automatic LED headlights 

  • Cloth upholstery with leather-wrapped steering wheel & gear lever 

  • Rear-view camera with rear parking sensors 

  • Adaptive cruise control 

  • 8.8-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto 

  • 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster 

  • 18-inch alloys (G20 Evolve)

  • Rear air vents (G20 Evolve)

  • Leather upholstery (G20 Touring)

  • Wireless charging, wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto (G20 Touring) 

  • 10.25-inch infotainment system (G25 GT)

  • Adaptive LED headlights (G25 Astina) 

  • Panoramic sunroof (G25 Astina)

What Engines are Available for the Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3?

Toyota’s entry-level Corolla comes powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 126kW of power and 202Nm of torque, which is thrown to the front wheels via a CVT automatic.

Stepping up to the Corolla Hybrid range adds a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor that produces a combined 103kW of power, powering the front wheels via the same CVT automatic.

Opting for the base Mazda 3 G20 sees a 2.0-litre four-cylinder lurking beneath the bonnet that produces 114kW of power and 200Nm of torque, which is paired with a front-wheel drive layout and a six-speed automatic.

For buyers looking for some more pace, the Mazda 3 G25 range utilises a 2.5-litre four-cylinder producing a healthy 138kW of power and 252Nm of torque that is, in our option, the engine pick of the two when it comes to driving engagement and pace.

The Engine Verdict: Mazda 3

Which is the Best to Drive to Drive?

Kicking the driving experience off with the Corolla, it’s clear to see that after twelve generations, Toyota has come close to perfecting the recipe for a user-friendly package that handles a mix of Australian road conditions with confidence.

While there’s not a heap of power on offer, and the CVT automatic is a bit dull when it comes to driving engagement, the base Corolla feels willing and eager to pick up speed while the Corolla Hybrid offers a nice boost in torque from its electric motors.

Driving the Corolla around town is effortless, making for a great urban companion thanks to its tight turning circle and agile handling that can confidently whip a three-point turn or squeeze into a narrow car park.

All up, the Corolla is a near faultless driving package, though its more sensible nature means that there’s less enjoyment on offer in favour of a more well-rounded and very sensible urban commuter.

When stepping into the Mazda 3, on the other hand, you can feel almost immediately that its a more focused and sporty platform with its low-slung driving position and lively handling.

Power from the base G20 engine isn’t anything to get excited about, although the six-speed automatic is a significant upgrade over the Corolla’s CVT, while the more potent G25 engine is a wonderful little unit that offers healthy acceleration figures.

Around town, the Mazda 3 is super well-behaved and accommodating for all levels of drivers, retaining all the important hallmarks of a user-friendly package that is perfect for the urban jungle.

The suspension package is noticeably firmer than the Corolla, though this adds versatility to the Mazda 3’s driving experience overall which offers some truly engaging handling and a great excuse to take the long way home on a weekend drive.

  • Driving Verdict: Mazda 3 

  • Road Comfort Verdict: Toyota Corolla 

  • User-Friendliness Verdict: Tie

Which is More Fuel Efficient?

Fuel efficiency figures for the latest Mazda 3 range stand at 5.8L/100km for the base G20 sedan, rising to 5.9L/100km in the Mazda 3 G20 hatchback.

Upgrading to Mazda’s more powerful G25 engine brings fuel economy figures up to 6.5L/100km in the Mazda 3 sedan and 6.6L/100km in the Mazda 3 hatchback.

Toyota’s entry-level Corolla hatch, on the other hand, is rated at 6.0L/100km on a combined cycle, while the base Corolla sedan is rated at 5.9L/100km.

If outright fuel efficiency is your biggest priority, though, you’ll want to get your hands on the Toyota Corolla hybrid range which is rated at just 3.9L/100km in sedan form and 4.0L/100km in the Corolla hybrid hatchback.

Fuel Efficiency Verdict: Toyota Corolla

Which is More Practical and Spacious?

Toyota’s layout in the front of the Corolla’s cabin has been sharpened up but remains extremely simple and ergonomic to navigate simple inputs for the media and climate systems.

Headroom in the front of the Corolla is excellent, so too is the forward visibility that adds to the sense of space in the cockpit.

The Corolla’s centre console is a bit more clunky when it comes to storage real estate, though you’ll still find a pair of cup holders, a storage tray behind the gear lever, storage inside the folding armrest and a pair of door bins with bottle holders.

  • Toyota Corolla Sedan Boot Space: 470L

  • Toyota Corolla Hatchback Boot Space: 217 - 333L

Move to the rear and things get a bit more cramped for rear occupants, though there is enough for adults to get reasonably comfortable for moderate hops around town and slightly more headroom than the Mazda 3.

Step inside the Mazda 3 and you’ll find a more substantial centre console that houses a larger storage tray behind the gear lever and significantly more storage inside the folding armrest.

The Headroom in the front of the Mazda 3 is very accommodating to taller adults, and while things get similarly tight in the rear, the Mazda 3 offers a fraction more legroom than the Corolla which makes it the pick for growing families.

  • Mazda 3 Sedan Boot Space: 444L 

  • Mazda 3 Hatchback Boot Space: 295L

While there’s not much separating the two, the Mazda 3 just manages to edge out the Toyota Corolla in terms of space and practicality, particularly in the second row.

The Space & Practicality Verdict: Mazda 3

Which is the Safest?

Both the Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla have received five-star ANCAP safety ratings and are renowned as very safe small car packages here in Australia.

The Mazda 3 scored a five-star ANCAP rating with scores of 98% for adult protection, 89% for child protection, 81% for vulnerable road user protection and 76% for safety assist.

The Toyota Corolla’s five-star ANCAP safety rating was awarded after scoring 96% for adult protection, 83% for child protection, 86% for vulnerable road user protection and 76% for safety assist.

With such a small difference in their respective ANCAP safety ratings, the difference in outright safety between the Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla is negligible.

The Safety Verdict: Tie

Which Comes Packaged with the Most Safety Equipment?

Toyota’s entry-level Corolla comes fitted with autonomous emergency braking with junction assist, pedestrian, cyclist and motorcyclist detection, emergency steering assist, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, lane-departure alerts, a rear-view camera and curtain airbags.

Features like blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alerts are reserved for the Corolla SX and ZR sedan.

Mazda’s entry-level Mazda 3 picks up a slightly more generous safety equipment list which includes forward and reverse autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alerts, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, lane departure alerts, a rear-view camera with rear parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring and curtain airbags.

Step higher into the Mazda 3 range and you’ll pick up a surround-view monitor, front cross-traffic alerts and parking sensors and driver attention monitoring, though the base model just edges out the Corolla in terms of safety tech in the base model.

Safety Equipment Verdict: Mazda 3

Which has the Lowest Running Costs?

Toyota’s capped-price servicing package for the Corolla means you’ll pay $255 per service, with intervals set at 12 months/15,000km for a total of $1225 for five years of servicing.

While Mazda’s servicing intervals have grown from 10,000 to 15,000km per service, the higher servicing costs (averaging at the $346 mark) mean you’re likely to pay around $1730 for five years of servicing for the Mazda 3.

Running Costs Verdict: Toyota Corolla

Our Verdict: Mazda 3 vs Toyota Corolla

In isolation, the Mazda 3 edges out the Toyota Corolla in a number of key areas, though it’s impossible to ignore the advantages of the Corolla’s hybrid fuel efficiency and more affordable five-year servicing package that makes it the best value all-rounder of the bunch.

Having said that, for certain types of buyers, particularly those looking for driving engagement, the Mazda 3 confidently takes the cake, so too when looking at the quality and practicality of the interior.

OnlineAuto Winner: Toyota Corolla

If you’re struggling to decide between the Toyota Corolla and the Mazda 3, be sure to reach out to one of our car-buying experts who can help you out and find you the best possible price.  


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

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