Mazda 3 review - Practicality, comfort and boot space
The Mazda 3’s dramatic styling has robbed it of a little practicality, but it’s a comfortable car to spend time in
As is so often the case with swoopier car designs, the Mazda 3 can’t quite match its rivals in the practicality department. Its low roofline encroaches slightly on rear passenger space and the boot is not the largest, while small rear windows make the cabin feel a little dark and limit rearward visibility. However the saloon doesn't feel so compromised, being lighter and airier in the back, thanks to the slimmer C-pillar and larger rear window. Interior storage is good, with a large cubby ahead of the gear lever proving particularly useful.
Elsewhere, the great driving position is set low in the car and can be adjusted to feel almost sports-car-like. There is lots of steering wheel adjustment, too. The seats themselves are great, offering plenty of support and comfort over longer journeys.
Those looking for a more practical Mazda 3 may be tempted by the saloon variant – a car that exists in a niche market that’s shared with cars like the Audi A3 Saloon and Mercedes A-Class Saloon. It offers a larger boot, albeit without the flexibility of a hatchback.
The Mazda 3 isn’t the best choice in this class if outright practicality is your priority – Skoda has that covered with its Scala and Octavia hatchbacks. However, the Mazda will still offer enough space for most, all the while offering a much sportier take on the traditional family hatchback recipe.
The Mazda 3 measures in at 4,460mm long, 1,795mm wide (or 2,028mm with mirrors) and 1,435mm tall. It’s around 200mm longer than a Volkswagen Golf, and slightly lower, too, helping it look and feel more sporty. That extra length seemingly accounts for the Mazda 3’s longer bonnet, as rear seat and boot space are not especially impressive. The saloon is lightly longer at 4,660mm and sits a fraction taller than its five-door sibling, although the extra length is mainly in the rear overhang.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
The Mazda 3’s rear seats are spacious enough; there’s more legroom than you’ll find in a Ford Focus, but not quite as much as in the class-leading Volkswagen Golf. There’s enough headroom for six-footers in the rear but entry and egress is made difficult by a low cant rail and small rear doors – something that could prove problematic for owners with small children. Kids might struggle to see out of the small rear windows, inevitably contributing to motion sickness.
There is 351 litres of boot space in the back of the 3 – less than you’ll find in the Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus. The space itself is well-shaped, however, with a usefully wide opening, but there’s a high lip to lift items over, with a drop on the other side to the low boot floor. The rear bench folds with a 60/40 split to reveal extra storage space, with no real lip between boot floor and seat back. The saloon offers improved loadspace of 444 litres and a slightly taller roofline to aid practicality.
All Mazda 3 models are rated to tow a braked trailer of up to 1300kg; no unbraked figures are quoted.
In this review
- 1Mazda 3 reviewThe Mazda 3 looks fantastic, drives brilliantly and rides well, but some rivals are better all-rounders
- 2Engines, performance and driveEven with new 178bhp SkyActiv-X engine, the Mazda 3’s sweet underpinnings long for more power. But it’s an excellent family hatchback to drive
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsWith decent residuals and affordable company car tax costs, the Mazda 3 is competitive when it comes to running costs
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Mazda 3 looks sharp and can give the Volkswagen Golf a run for its money in the quality stakes
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot space - currently readingThe Mazda 3’s dramatic styling has robbed it of a little practicality, but it’s a comfortable car to spend time in
- 6Reliability and SafetyA stellar safety rating should be matched by great reliability