It's a time of renewal in the compact segment where the past few years have seen several members of the old guard rejuvenated in order to stay current and continue to capture a slice of this increasingly competitive area of the market. Two of the compact world's major players - the Nissan Sentra and the Mazda MAZDA3 - have both been significantly updated over the course of the last 12 months. What is interesting, however, are the very different tacks taken by each respective Japanese brand in bringing new life to their entry-level sedans.
Naturally, the corporate behemoth that is Nissan is in a better position to thoroughly revamp a particular model, and this shines through in the 2013 Nissan Sentra which has seen a wide variety of changes made to its platform, styling, and drivetrain. Comparatively smaller Mazda has to be more judicious about the upgrades it applies to its vehicles, which explains why the 2013 Mazda Mazda3 wears very similar duds compared to previous models but packs a new and explosively efficient engine and transmission combination that vaults it to the front of a very frugal pack.
Two car companies, two compact sedans, and two diverse approaches to making something old new again. Let's see how these entry-level rivals stack up against each other.