Gray shades and hedonist path: Kia Ceed and Mazda 3 comparative test drive

Market and sales

The first months of sales of the new Mazda 3 in Russia confirmed the niche status of this model, which was slipped into by its predecessor after the 2015 crisis, when the prices for imported cars crawled up and the market – down. From January to September of this year, only 653 ‘troikas’ were sold, and the fifth-generation cars, which began to arrive at dealers in early summer, did not improve dynamics. On the contrary: if at the beginning of the year the old “troikas” remaining in the warehouses found more than a hundred buyers per month, now – 50-60. However, let’s not rush to conclusions, it is necessary to let the new Mazda 3 live in Russia at least one full year.

Localized on Avtotore and, as a consequence, cheaper Kia Ceed of the current third generation is much more popular than Mazda: during the first three quarters of this year 13 018 copies were sold. It is better to sell only Skoda Octavia in the C-class – 17,313 pieces, which is considered to be a premium model by Russians, which causes astonishment even in the headquarters of the Czech brand, not to mention the competitors unfairly neglected by the consumer like Citroen C4 and Peugeot 408 of the Kaluga assembly. Even quite attractively priced imported hatchback VW Golf does not attract Russians: only 884 pieces were sold during nine months of this year. – It seems that many people just don’t know that since autumn 2018 this model is officially available in our country again.


Golf I mentioned for a reason: all week driving a Ceed I involuntarily remembered a “German” who was clearly a reference model for Kia engineers. The power unit of the test car is typically Volkswagen in both configuration and behavior. The combination of a 1.4-liter gasoline turbocharger with an output of 140 hp and a 7-speed dual-clutch “automatic” is perfect for driving on highways, but in the city it requires a certain addiction.

For example, when the Ceed is tapped into the traffic jam too slowly after moving off without turning to the gas pedal, so that somebody tries to squeeze in the window between it and the car in front of it all the time. As a result, you have to constantly adjust the car with an accelerator, but the corresponding pedal has too much free movement: just pressed – nothing, just pressed – nothing again, and when you press it properly, there is a jerk. This makes the ride somewhat torn and uncomfortable, especially for passengers.

Kia Ceed 1.4 T-GDI 7DCT Premium+

140 hp at 6000 rpm, 242 Nm at 1500-3200 rpm

Ground clearance – 150 mm Trunk volume – 395 to 1291 l

If the traffic jam is pulled up the overpass so that the Ced does not roll down, it is better to activate the Auto Hold mode of the electromechanical parking brake in advance. But to get off the ground in this case, you will always have to put pressure on the gas and tolerate small pecking marks when you release the handbrake.

Mazdovsky duo of 150-powered “atmospheric” Skyactiv-G and 6-stage hydromechanical automatic control gear, it would seem, should work more harmoniously by definition, but also here, unfortunately, unpleasant nuances were found out. Releasing a brake, we receive confident movement forward – in “dead” jam to tighten Mazda to the next cars it is more convenient. But as soon as the stream starts to go faster and it is necessary to press the gas, the box of “three” can burst out even after a slight stroking of the accelerator pedal – such zeal is not always appropriate and tires when driving around the city.

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Мотор Mazda 3

Such a “live” setting, by the way, makes the sports mode of the box meaningless, at least on our flat roads: the response to gas is always very sensitive. Because of this feature, Mazda is subjectively perceived as a more dynamic car than Ceed, although their acceleration time to the “hundred” is almost identical – 9.3 and 9.2 seconds, respectively.

Steerability and smoothness

Ceed chassis settings also carefully repeats Golf: it has a good balance between smoothness of running and controllability, full multilever rear suspension, it confidently stands on the arc, even if under the wheels of broken asphalt or large transverse sutures of the Moscow TTC overpass. But the reactive force on a steering wheel floats all the time, and it is a little confusing. At first I thought that the lane holding system, which with the help of electric amplifier returns the car “on the right way”, is to blame, but also after its deactivation of the “festivities” of the steering continued.

Kia Ceed
Kia Ceed
Kia Ceed

In Mazda, the steering is better adjusted, the feedback is cleaner, the responses are more accurate. The change of the multilever rear suspension to a semi-independent one with a torsion beam, fortunately, has not affected the course stability in any way – in this sense, Japanese engineers have reached the level of French colleagues, whose cars with a rear beam ride better than other competitors with a multilever.

Mazda 3 2.0 Skyactiv-G 6AT Active

150 hp at 6000 rpm, 213 hp at 4000 rpm

Ground clearance – 135 mm Trunk volume – from 295 to 1026 l

But in terms of smooth running the new “troika”, unfortunately, is inferior to both the French and Kia. At the already mentioned seams of the Mazda 3 TTK overpasses, though it does not jump off the trajectory, but flinches with the whole body so much that you unwittingly lose the speed and slow down the flow. Through the lying policemen you need to roll over sneak around, otherwise you won’t get past the hard blows. Only with microroughnesses the suspension cops well, that is to receive pleasure from fast driving on it it is possible only on qualitative roads.

And whether there is a pleasure? Let’s put it this way, it is specific, Scandinavian – I already mentioned it in the premiere test. Those who love old Saab and Volvo will understand me. Mazda 3 does not provoke the driver to aggressive driving, but gives pleasure from meditative and thus fast moving in space.

Noise insulation and sound

It’s accurate, obedient, patient and incredibly quiet – the quietest Mazda I’ve ever driven, including the CX-9 flagship. When there’s good asphalt under the wheels, it’s hard to imagine a more assembled and finely tuned C-Class car. Even the “French”, whom I love for their enveloping softness combined with the refined chassis, do not give at the speed of such a sense of confidence and harmony as Mazda 3 – and this, in my opinion, is the most weighty of her applications for the hit of the premium segment.

Kia Ceed goes coarser and much louder: after 100 km/h the saloon is filled with a pressing aerodynamic rumble, but if you like to listen to music loudly, it is not a problem. The Premium+ kit includes a very decent JBL audio system with seven loudspeakers and a subwoofer in the trunk. It perfectly reproduces simple dance music with deep basses, but badly conveys depth and shades of more difficult ambient songs – they are better to listen in Mazda.

Kia Ceed

The new troika’s in-house acoustics are probably the best for their own money: the bass drivers are not located here in the doors, but in special niches near the front wheel arches, making the sound more natural. Plus wide possibilities for tuning (13-band equalizer!), juicy transfer of middle and high frequencies, moderate “convexity” of basses.

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Kia Ceed 1.4 T-GDI 7DCT Premium+

Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h – 9.2 s Maximum speed – 205 km/h

Price: RUB 1,579,900

Mazda music lovers will also love the ability to quickly navigate the tracks using the rotary pusher on the centre console – it keeps their eyes on the road almost intact. To the right of the washer is a small volume control, which is much more convenient to use than the buttons on the steering wheel – it is literally always at hand, leaning on the central armrest. But an additional UBS-port (the main one is under the armrest cover) under the climate control unit for music is not suitable: when the flash drive loses contact and playback is interrupted – another minus too hard suspension.

Mazda 3

Interior and options

Mazda’s climate control works strangely. You put out +22 to warm up in a cold morning, and pretty soon you get it in the salon in Tashkent. You reduce the temperature by two degrees – it’s still hot. You put +18 – it’s hot! Only having reduced value to +17, it is possible to receive more or less comfortable atmosphere. Kia works better in this respect: it has put up +22 once and forgotten about climate control – it is necessary to address to the block only to switch on heating of armchairs, steering wheel and windshield. The steering wheel in Kia is heated all around the rim, not only in the main grip areas, like in Mazda. Full heating of windshield “Japanese” does not offer at all – only a zone of rest of janitors is heated.

But the most strange and unpleasant feature of the test Mazda is the absence of parking sensors and rear view cameras (they appear only in the most expensive equipment Supreme). Without them, the parallel parking of Mazda becomes a torment: due to the compartment stern and thick rear posts it is almost impossible to adequately assess the situation behind the car, and the luggage door glass is very small. Fortunately, there are no problems with visibility in front of the car.

The simple to look like a fabric Mazda armchair was very convenient: it perfectly distributes the load on the back and legs, despite the lack of adjustment of lumbar support. Instead of the last one, Mazda offers a mechanical tilt adjustment of the pillow, which I personally find much more useful than the infusible roller behind the back.

In Kia, on the other hand, it’s the other way around: the tilt cushion is not adjustable, and the lumbar support is adjusted in two planes at once by means of an electric drive. The result is a backache after an hour and a half driving. I have to sit in Kia lower than I would like to because the top edge of the cushion is too much blown out. The upper segments of the speedometer and tachometer scales are still covered by the rudder rim.

Kia Ceed interior

The configuration of the Ceed dashboard is also completely “stolen” from Golf – laconic, but boring. In Mazda, the shield is more interesting, with a drawn on the screen, but photorealistic central speedometer. The risks change from white to red depending on the current speed limit, and the excess is clearly displayed in the form of a red segment of the scale – in my opinion, this is the most harmonious application of digital technology in the ergonomics of the shield that I have seen.

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Mazda 3 2.0 Skyactiv-G 6AT Active

Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h – 9.3 s Maximum speed – 213 km/h

The quality of the finishing materials in Mazda is higher than in Kia, which justifies a higher price in this respect, but the black glossy plastic inserts in the central tunnel and in the door cards are a nightmare: in both cars they are hopelessly scratched after several journalistic tests. In addition, Kia always has a fingerprint screen of the multimedia system, while in Mazda there is no sense in touching it – all control is tied to the washer and hot keys on the spokes of the steering wheel.

The rear seats are definitely more comfortable in Kia: there is more space in all directions, there is a two-stage heating and individual ducts in the center. Mazda 3 from the position of the rear passenger does not reach the standards of C-class, here it is crowded and dark, and I would consider the “three” as a four-door coupe with the boarding formula 2+2 – it would be more honest and correct. Mazda’s trunk is 100 litres smaller than Kia’s, but the possibilities of transformation are identical, and under the floor there is only a narrow rolling stock.

Fuel consumption

In Mazda’s test, it was slightly more than ten litres per 100 km, in Kia it was slightly less than ten litres per 100 km. I remember in Serbia, where I first got acquainted with the new “troika”, the 2.0-liter version of the onboard computer recorded an incredible 6.5 liters per “hundred”, but there were no hellish traffic jams in Moscow.

Perhaps, if in the Russian specification Mazda 3 was equipped with the system of stop&start, the consumption would be lower, but I am, to be honest, glad that it is not there – it always irritated me, and the engine’s constant shutdown affects negatively.

What did you end up with?

The winner of this test has been determined by the market for a long time: Kia Ceed is a more reasonable purchase, because it is a more universal and suitable for Russia car than Mazda3. I can’t imagine how to drive on the “three” with its small road clearance, long front overhang and low-lying false radiator grille in winter – it’s just a pity about the car! But in summer, yes, by dry land, yes, on a good road to drive a Mazda long and far … Enjoy the landscape, good music, a loved one on the next seat and the admiration of others. Personally to me another’s attention is not necessary to me, I simply ascertain the fact: the new “three” at the expense of specific proportions and difficult plastic sidewalls attracts a sight – it conceded way even drivers of sports cars Porsche (not crossovers) to admire simply, and already owners 911th know the sense in style.

Nobody looks at Kia Ceed and nobody misses it, for Moscow it is the mediocrity and greyness, despite of rather bright blue color of a concrete specimen. Ceed is a function of a car, although it can give a lot of joy from driving and owning it.

To buy a Mazda it is necessary that pleasure was the main priority, and pleasure is not boyish, as at former “three”, but adult, weighed. Intellectual, if you want. It is clear that the market is governed not by hedonism, but by much more pragmatic considerations. That’s why Kia is ahead, and the poorer the Russians become, the more Kia and less Mazda will be on the roads. So far, this has been the case.

By Max W. Obama

Hey, there! My name is Cris W.Obama and I’m obsessed with travelling especially in Spain. Ever since I visited the country, I’ve become a frequent guest. On this blog you’ll see which places i visited and my travel guides.

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