Mazda 3: Parking Mania

  • We take a look at how easy the Mazda 3 is to park
  • Front and rear parking sensors standard on Sport trim
  • Compact dimensions make the Mazda easy to manoeuvre

Parking could possibly be the worst part of driving a car - some of us still struggle with it years after getting our licence.

Well, that is unless you have downloaded the new Parking Mania mobile phone game of course. Hours upon hours my nieces and nephews have sat playing the game. Bored of talking to what appeared to be zombie incarnations of my family, I downloaded it for myself to see what all the fuss was about.

And yes, I am now officially hooked - If only parking in real life was this enjoyable.

With parking well and truly on the brain I thought it was a good opportunity to find out how our long-term Mazda 3 fares in real-life conditions.

Our test car comes in the top of the range Sport trim so you would expect standard kit to be pretty good - and you would be right, highlights include 18-inch alloy wheels, sat-nav, head-up display, dual-zone air-conditioning, Bluetooth, heated front seats, cruise control and, crucially, front and rear reversing sensors.

The sensors are linked to a display on the seven-inch colour touchscreen and give plenty of notice when you get close to any obstacles while reversing or moving forwards slowly. The notification beeps are sounded intermittently and quicken in pace the closer you get to an object.

As a large proportion of accidents and damage occurs in car parks, parking sensors really are invaluable.That said, in the Mazda 3 we have found them to be a little over cautious which can sometimes be frustrating if trying to get through a particularly tight gap.

Longer and thinner than rivals like the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, Peugeot 308 and SEAT Leon, the Mazda 3 is easy to manoeuvre and control.

Another useful feature that helps to get into those more difficult parking spaces is the auto dimming rear view window which can improve visibility on sunny days when reversing.

Smart City Brake, also available as standard, helps to avoid a frontal collision with other vehicles when driving at low speeds by using a laser to detect objects in front of you and automatically activating the brakes.

Hill Hold Assist is another useful feature, especially if you live in particularly hilly areas where you need to be able to start and stop at all sorts of funny angles.

So all in all the Mazda 3 fares well when it comes to parking. It may not be as satisfying to slot into a place as playing Parking Mania and there are unfortunately no points up for grabs - but parking is made much more enjoyable and stress-free thanks to the cars clever parking sensors.

In the next instalment we find out how staff writer James Taylor got on when he took the Mazda 3 all the way to North Wales.