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Mazda 3 (2013-2019) review - Interior, design and technology

The Mazda 3 looks great, has a classy cabin and it’s well kitted out for the money

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Interior, design and technology Rating

4.1 out of 5

Price
£23,925 to £33,165
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Mixing eye-catching style with agile handling and impressive efficiency, the Mazda 3 Mk3 was an instant class contender when it debuted in 2013. Fast forward to 2016, and the hatch was treated to a mid-life update in an effort to keep pace with newer rivals.

You’re unlikely to spot the changes to the exterior unless you look closely. However, careful inspection will reveal the more prominent front grille, revised door mirrors and a reprofiled rear bumper. Range-topping Sport Nav models are identified by adaptive LED headlamps, while all versions are available with a trio of new metallic paints. 

Mazda 3 - rear static

All versions get alloy wheels, colour-coded door handles and mirrors as standard. Sport Black cars get exclusive black detailing around the car plus dark 18-inch alloy wheels and privacy glass. Sport Nav cars get silver 18-inch alloys and distinctive LED running lights. Even without these eye-catching additions though, the entry-level 3 looks smart and upmarket, particularly if you go for the optional Soul Red signature metallic paint, which costs around £670.

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Inside, the upmarket theme continues, with the mix of tight build quality and decent materials lifting the ambience. Flashes of silver trim help brighten the otherwise dark interior, while the tablet-style touchscreen mounted is easy to see and use. 

Mazda 3 - dash

Eagle-eyed fans will spot the MX-5-style three-spoke steering wheel and the electric parking brake in which frees up extra storage in the centre console. Prod and poke the cabin and you’ll discover high-quality materials and switchgear.

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Mounted on top of the dash is Mazda’s familiar seven-inch touchscreen, which can also be accessed via a rotary controller on the transmission tunnel. Other standard kit on the Sport Nav includes a full-colour head-up display, keyless entry, heated seats and a reversing camera.

The low-slung seating position gives the car a sporty feel, which is backed up by the large circular speedo set ahead of the driver. A centre console-mounted rotary controller operates the infotainment system, and it's straightforward to operate. Sport Nav models also benefit from a head-up display that shows speed and sat-nav directions on the windscreen in front of the driver.

While the Mazda can't quite match Volkswagen, BMW or Audi for upmarket appeal, the cabin still features plenty of soft-touch materials and it feels robust – more so than the old Mazda 3 and a lot of other Japanese cars, which have been known for slightly cheap feeling interiors.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The Mazda 3 has a decent standard kit list, which includes Bluetooth, USB and aux inputs and a seven-inch colour touchscreen display on the top of the dashboard. There are also a pair apps called Aha and Stitcher that allow you to sync up internet radio and social media accounts through a smartphone.

Mazda 3 2016 - infotainment

The infotainment system is very easy to use most of the time - it's likely you'll hardly bother using the touch interface often as the rotary dial is quick and intuitive. Sometimes, however, you'll find it lags and stutters between menus. 

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

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    2.0 Skyactiv G MHEV SE-L 5dr
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Most Economical

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Fastest

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Senior test editor

Dean has been part of the Auto Express team for more than 20 years, and has worked across nearly all departments, starting on magazine production, then moving to road tests and reviews. He's our resident van expert, but covers everything from scooters and motorbikes to supercars and consumer products.

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