The only thing they have in common is that they're hatchbacks and fwd. Otherwise, they're definitely not in the same league.
I did cross shop Mazda, among other vehicles.
They just felt like "city cars" to me. By that I mean, they felt like they should be covered in a thin film of smut and dinged quite a bit after a couple of years.
The actual driving was nice enough, but I just couldn't shake the feeling that they went from being rebellious to selling "white box transport" with fancy styling.
I know I've been griping a lot, but I really do enjoy the GTI. Mazda used to be incredibly fun, but something's happened in there.
Can't quite put my finger on what.