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The Mz3 will feel more refined, as in a nicer, quieter ride. The SVT Focus is a sport tuned version of the Focus, which starts as a bit more of an econobox than the Mz3.

The Mz3 is also a bit quicker off the line, at least the 2.3L version is. In the Car & Driver testing, the Mz3 was .4 of a second faster in their 0-60 times.

However the SVT may feel a bit sportier to drive, if you like its sports-tuned suspension and like a bit more "feel of the road" when you drive. Definitely worth taking a test drive in both to find which one connects more with you.

As to reliability, the Mz3 is likely to be better. The newer Focus have improved, but the sports-tuned models usually are a bit worse than a standard car. In any case, both will be better than a Jetta, which is racking up an astoundingly poor reliability record in their 1999-2003 models (jury is still out on the 2004 models). These are now on several consumer groups "don't buy" lists and were scored as one of the bottom 5 cars in a recent J.D. Powers quality survey. This is particularly true for any Jetta/Golf that was assembled in VW's Mexican plant.

Too bad too, as I really like driving both Jettas and Golfs. I've been told by Mazda reps that one of their market goals is to build a fun to drive car that can compete with VW on those terms, while appealing to people who want better reliability. They see VW as being vulnerable as word of their problematic nature becomes more widely known.
 

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Thanks for the link. The design is not as sporty as I thought it might be. Not bad looking, but on the bland side.

No one is going to confuse one with a Mazda3!

Is it going to have a 2.3L engine option?
 

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If they offer it with a 2.3L, then there isn't much reason to offer a SVT version. As we know, the 3s w/2.3L is as fast or faster than a Focus SVT so the remaining Focus market that wants something even faster is not going to be very big. Most people wanting more speed are not going to buy a Focus.

I saw a purple Focus SVT yesterday and thought it was quite ugly. The combination of the purple color and black wheels just didn't work for me.
 
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