Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2011 BMW 3 Series VS 2011 Mazda 6 Near Phoenix, AZ

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2011 BMW 3 Series

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VS

2011 Mazda 6

Safety Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The BMW 3 Series Sedan has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The 3 Series Sedan offers optional Park Distance Control to help warn drivers about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer any parking assist system.

The 3 Series Sedan offers optional BMW Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get driving directions, remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the Mazda 6 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control and electronic stability systems to prevent skidding.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the general design of front seat head restraints for their ability to protect front seat occupants from whiplash injuries. The IIHS also performs a dynamic test on those seats with “good” or “acceptable” geometry. In these ratings, the 3 Series Sedan is safer then the Mazda 6:

3 Series Sedan

Mazda 6

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Head Restraint Design

GOOD

GOOD

Distance from Back of Head

38 mm

54 mm

Dynamic Test Rating

GOOD

MARGINAL

Seat Design

Pass

Fail

Neck Force Rating

Low

Medium

Max Neck Shearing Force

0

139

Max Neck Tension

472

561

(Lower numerical results are better in all tests.)

For its top level performance in frontal and side impact tests, and acceptable performance in rear impact tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the 3 Series Sedan as a “Silver” Top Safety Pick for 2006, its second highest rating, granted to only 6 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Mazda 6 doesn’t qualify for the IIHS’ top ratings.

Warranty Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan comes with a full 4 year/50,000 mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24 hour roadside assistance. The Mazda 6’s 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The 3 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Mazda 6’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 4 years and 50,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, tire rotation, lubrication and any other scheduled maintenance. Mazda doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Mazda 6.

Reliability Comparison

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To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the 3 Series Sedan has a standard 180-amp alternator. The Mazda 6’s standard 100-amp alternator and largest (V6) 110-amp alternator aren’t as powerful.

The battery on the 3 Series Sedan is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures which can degrade battery life. By keeping the 3 Series Sedan’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Mazda 6’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2010 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 16th in initial quality. With 1 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 18th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ surveys of the owners of three-year-old cars provide the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 17th in reliability, above the industry average. With 30 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 29th.

Engine Comparison

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The 328i Sedan’s standard 3.0 DOHC 6 cyl. produces 60 more horsepower (230 vs. 170) and 33 lbs.-ft. more torque (200 vs. 167) than the Mazda 6i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. The 335i Sedan’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 28 more horsepower (300 vs. 272) and 31 lbs.-ft. more torque (300 vs. 269) than the Mazda 6s’ standard 3.7 DOHC V6.

The 3 Series Sedan’s 3.0 turbo diesel produces 95 more horsepower (265 vs. 170) and 258 lbs.-ft. more torque (425 vs. 167) than the Mazda 6i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. The 3 Series Sedan’s 3.0 turbo diesel produces 156 lbs.-ft. more torque (425 vs. 269) than the Mazda 6s’ standard 3.7 DOHC V6.

For more instantaneous acceleration and better engine flexibility in any gear, the 3 Series Sedan’s engines produce their peak torque at lower RPM’s than the Mazda 6:

Torque

328i Sedan 3.0 DOHC 6 cyl.

2750 RPM

335i Sedan 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

1200 RPM

Mazda 6i 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

4000 RPM

Mazda 6s 3.7 DOHC V6

4250 RPM

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

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On the EPA test cycle the 335d Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the Mazda 6i Auto (23 city/36 hwy vs. 22 city/31 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the 328i Sedan RWD Auto gets better fuel mileage than the Mazda 6s V6 (18 city/28 hwy vs. 18 city/27 hwy).

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

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For better stopping power the 3 Series Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Mazda 6:

328i Sedan

335

Mazda 6

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

13.7 inches

11.8 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13.2 inches

11 inches

The 328i Sedan’s standard brakes have 9% more swept area (the area covered by the brake pads) than the Mazda 6 (464 vs. 425 square inches), so the 3 Series Sedan has more braking power available. The 335’s brakes have 20% more swept area (the area covered by the brake pads) than the Mazda 6 (511 vs. 425 square inches), so the 335 has more braking power available.

The 3 Series Sedan’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Mazda 6 are solid, not vented.

The 3 Series Sedan stops much shorter than the Mazda 6:

3 Series Sedan

Mazda 6

80 to 0 MPH

208 feet

232 feet

Road & Track

70 to 0 MPH

160 feet

189 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

131 feet

Road & Track

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

142 feet

154 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels Comparison

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The 328i Sedan’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Mazda 6 SV/Sport’s standard 65 series tires. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 225/40R18 front and 255/35R18 rear tires have a lower 40 series front and 35 series rear profile than the V6 Grand Touring’s 45 series tires.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (50.5% to 49.5%) than the Mazda 6’s (60% to 40%). This gives the 3 Series Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The 335i Sedan handles at .95 G’s, while the Mazda 6i Touring pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The 335d Sedan goes through Road & Track’s slalom 6.3 MPH faster than the Mazda 6s Grand Touring (70.5 vs. 64.2 MPH).

Chassis Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan is 1 foot, 3.5 inches shorter than the Mazda 6, making the 3 Series Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

For excellent aerodynamics, the 3 Series Sedan has standard flush composite headlights. The Mazda 6 has recessed headlights that spoil its aerodynamic shape and create extra drag.

As tested by Road & Track, the interior of the 335d Sedan is quieter than the Mazda 6s Grand Touring:

3 Series Sedan

Mazda 6

Full-Throttle

71 dB

74 dB

50 MPH Cruising

62 dB

65 dB

70 MPH Cruising

67 dB

70 dB

Cargo Capacity Comparison

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With its coupe, convertible or sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the 3 Series Sedan offers cargo security. The Mazda 6’s non-lockable remote release defeats cargo security.

Ergonomics Comparison

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The power windows standard on both the 3 Series Sedan and the Mazda 6 have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the 3 Series Sedan is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Mazda 6 prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The 3 Series Sedan’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Mazda 6’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically. With the Mazda 6 Touring/Grand Touring’s power windows, only the front windows open or close automatically.

The 3 Series Sedan’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Mazda 6’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the 3 Series Sedan to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 3 Series Sedan offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The 3 Series Sedan has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Mazda 6 only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

While driving with high-beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the 3 Series Sedan detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low-beams. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer automatic dimming high-beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the 3 Series Sedan offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer cornering lights. The 3 Series Sedan also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

A power rear sun shade is optional in the 3 Series Sedan to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer a rear sun shade.

When the 3 Series Sedan with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Mazda 6’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the Mazda 6 offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the 3 Series Sedan has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the 3 Series Sedan offers an optional Active Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The 3 Series Sedan’s available GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that offers alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service available in a limited number of metro areas.) The Mazda 6’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

Economic Advantages Comparison

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Insurance will cost less for the 3 Series Sedan owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the 3 Series Sedan with a number “3” insurance rate while the Mazda 6 is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

The 3 Series Sedan will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. Kiplinger’s estimates that the 3 Series Sedan will retain a greater percentage of its original price after two and four years than the Mazda 6.

3 Series Sedan

6

Four Year

38% to 41%

34% to 37%

Two Year

54% to 59%

47% to 52%

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 3 Series Sedan is less expensive to operate than the Mazda 6 because it costs $648 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the 3 Series Sedan than the Mazda 6 and including $6 less for fuel injection.

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