In-depth reviews

Mazda 3 review - Interior, design and technology

The Mazda 3 looks sharp and can give the Volkswagen Golf a run for its money in the quality stakes

The Mazda 3 is one of the best-looking family cars on sale; its aggressively sporty styling isn’t too far removed from the Kai concept car that first appeared at the 2017 Toyko Motor Show. As with other modern Mazda products like the CX-5 and MX-5, the 3 has been designed to look fast and powerful even at a standstill – the result is a family car that looks far sportier than its competition. It’s a handsome car that looks decidedly up-market.

The Mazda 3 also sets itself apart by feeling more driver-focused than its rivals; its chassis has been developed with an engaging drive in mind, while the car’s interior is built around the driver’s needs, with great ergonomics and a fantastic driving position. 

The 3 has a classy feel inside, with simple lines and a deliberate lack of buttons. The dashboard has a wrap-around feel and is topped with an infotainment screen that’s controlled by a rotary dial behind the gear lever. Simple heater controls fall easily to hand, while the analogue dials are refreshingly simple. Build quality is great and the materials used are top-notch, especially on higher-spec models – there’s very little to complain about inside the 3’s cabin. 

There’s no real options list as such, rather a collection of well-judged trim levels that each come with a good level of equipment. Even entry-level SE-L models get automatic LED headlights, rear parking sensors, 16-inch alloys and radar cruise control.

The 3 feels just as well-built as a Volkswagen Golf and is arguably more interesting to both look at and sit in. It may not have the same scope for personalisation, but Mazda’s more simplistic approach is welcome in this class. 

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The Mazda’s 8.8-inch infotainment is a massive improvement over the previous model’s. The screen is sharp and the graphics are excellent; modern and classy-looking, yet intuitive and easy to use. That’s because the brand has opted for a rotary-dial control on the centre console rather than a touchscreen, so it’s more natural to use while driving than either of the rival systems.

It’s fitted with satellite navigation as standard, but you also have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay if you would rather use your smartphone’s mapping. The system works well, and although it’s a bit more cumbersome than the touchscreen versions found in rivals like the Volkswagen Golf, it’s an easier set-up to use on the move.

There’s a digital dial display of sorts, plus slick-looking traditional dials at either side. It’s standard kit, but isn’t as feature-rich as the VW’s optional Active Info display.

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    2.0 Skyactiv-G MHEV SE-L 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £21,570

Most Economical

  • Name
    2.0 Skyactiv-X MHEV SE-L 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £23,090

Fastest

  • Name
    2.0 Skyactiv-X MHEV SE-L 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £23,090

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