Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • High-quality interior plastics impressed us
  • Switchgear location and action didn’t
  • Head-up display manages to look old fashioned

At first acquaintance, the Mazda 3 Fastback’s cabin looks and feels like that of a car from a class above – no surprise to learn the larger Mazda 6’s dashboard features a similar design.

While it is well-built and features significant areas assembled from soft-touch plastics, some of the controls and knobs feel a little old fashioned, being less well-damped than rivals’ switchgear. In a car like this it’s also debatable whether the rev counter needs to be the dominant instrument in the binnacle, with a smaller digital speedo just to the side.

Although you soon get used to the oddly sited switchgear, particularly the infotainment controls located down between the handbrake and gearlever, we were less convinced by the flip-up head-up display system. The graphics aren’t especially sharp or bristling with information – somehow conspiring to look like a 1980s vision of future car interiors.

  • Supportive seats up front are great for long journeys
  • Little exterior noise enters the cabin
  • Adaptive suspension’s unavailable

On smoother roads in particular, comfort levels provided by the Mazda 3 Fastback impressed us – it’s over pockmarked British roads, when the car’s riding on larger 18-inch wheels that the set-up’s inherent firmness comes to light.

Not that your passengers are likely to complain about the occasional sharper jolt, particularly as the suspension deals with shallower road imperfections so well. Disappointingly, there’s no adaptive suspension option to soften the ride.

There are two seat designs – a flatter one for lower-ranking models and a sports alternative with greater side bolstering, at the top of the range. Both provide good levels of support and comfort, with cloth upholstery holding you in place more effectively than the leather alternative.

Although snug compared to many hatchback rivals, the 3 Fastback’s cabin’s capable of accommodating four adults although head and legroom in the back trail behind the Volkswagen Jetta’s.

Little exterior noise enters the cabin, such is the Mazda’s overall level of sound-deadening material and general refinement.