With only 3bhp separating both of them, you would expect both to have similar performance. This was not the case as the Altis felt slightly livelier and has a better appetite for revs. However, the Mazda3 has a smoother powerplant and when paired with the responsive six-speed automatic, it still offers decent pace for most. While CVT gearboxes are known to 'slip' when asked to accelerate hard, the Altis's new Super CVT-i gearbox minimises the effect with good results.
When it comes to the twisties, the Mazda3 is the clear victor with a nicely judged ride and a direct steering. The Altis fights back with better insulation when it comes to cruising at highway speeds. While not as agile as the Mazda3, the Altis is in a totally different league as compared to its predecessor, which had too cushy a ride.
Inside, the Mazda3 scores again with its better fit and finish. Its impressive equipment, like for example, the Active Driving Display, the MZD Connect touchscreen system and its Commander Control knob elevates it into a higher class. However, the Altis still triumphs in terms of overall space.
So which one is the better car? Read our full review to find out.