First car: Volvo s40 vs Mazda 3 vs Toyota Corolla

Forget the Volvo. If you don’t mind a harsh ride then go for the Mazda 3. The Toyota is really your best bet but they are a little boring looking when you consider the Mazda 3.

What about their problem with rust? Some say it’s really that bad, as well we do have wet winters after all.

Stay away from the Volvo. Reliability is poor and it will be costly to maintain.

Avoid the Volvo and Audi, they have a history of low reliability and high cost to keep them running. Regarding the rust, can you take the car to a mechanic to have them check it out? Once they have the car on a lift they will be able to see how much rust there is.

I never heard of a rust problem on the Mazda3. I think your friend is thinking about Asian cars 30 to 40 years ago or is mistaken. The Volvo is a luxury car and will therefore be more expensive to maintain and repair. At your stage in life, something like the Mazda3 or Corolla is a reasonable choice. We don’t have diesels in most small cars in the USA, and we can’t help you with that aspect. VW sells diesels here, and they are well received. You might consider a Golf TDI too.

What about VW Polo/ Renault Clio? Are they reliable / cost-free?

VW? Renault? Don’t take this the wrong way but are you a glutton for punishment? They are not reliable and they are certainly not cost-free. Stick to either the Mazda 3 or the Corolla.

I’m skeptical about your friend of a friend’s trunk problems. Cold and water alone won’t cause cars to deteriorate in two years. I wonder if there is more to the deterioration story than you have been told. We have a regular poster from around Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and he owns a Mazda3. He has only good things to say about it. Where in Europe do you live?

You’re talking about buying a used car and with used cars all bets are off as to reliability no matter what badge is attached to the rear.

A 10 year old Volvo may be a better car than a 2 year old Toyota. It all depends on how it was driven and how well it was maintained.
Some do bare bones maintenance or follow factory recommendations which may not be good enough and claim they’re “religiously maintained”. Not.

Since you are not in US, I think you have to rely on what the locals use. It is a matter of service/parts being available. Also, if the car has a bad rap, resale would be hard. Point in case, when I was in the Middle East, The Mitsubishi Galant and the Honda Accord were the popular family sedans. In US, MItsu’s reputation is horrible. I actually bot a great deal on a used Galant, but knowing that I would probably be the last owner.

Between 2003 and 2010 Mazda3 was assembled in Teheran, Iran. Except for the drive train, the Mazda3 should be the same design. To me, that means dramatically different corrosion performance is likely due to the production facility.

All the cars you mention would serve your purpose. If reliability and maintenance cost is a high priority, Toyota or Mazda. If you are willing to spend a little more, suffer a few more “why won’t my car start?” events once in a while, then choose the model with the color and style you like the best. When comparing miles and age, I think newer is more important than the number of miles on the clock. If there’s a lot of miles on a newer car, that means it has been mostly driven on the freeway, which is the easiest mileage of all. From what you say, and reading between the lines, I’m thinking Mazda 3 for you.

You didn’t mention the configuration, but if you are on a budget, the fewer electronic gadget options the better and a manual transmission will be less costly to repair and maintain than an automatic.

Remember that Mazda and Ford were not separated until 2013. The Mazda is a good car but the Toyota will be the most reliable. I own a 2014 Mazda6 so we will see if Mazda has done a better job with rust prevention since divorcing from Ford.