This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Mazda 3 Hatchback review.

Parkers overall rating: 3.8 out of 5 3.8

If you’ve ever sat in the Mazda 6 or CX-5 then chances are the layout presented to you in the 3 will be a relatively familiar sight; but that should be taken as a compliment rather than a complaint.

Sure some of the switchgear looks a little dated, and occasionally its placement may seem a bit haphazard, but overall it’s an attractive, well-built and well-presented space to sit. The instruments are clear and easy to read in general, though we’re not entirely convinced by the Sport Nav’s centrally mounted rev counter and smaller digital speedometer.

Likewise the sat-nav that looks more like a tablet attached to the dashboard rather than a neatly integrated unit. At least the mixture of rotary controller on the transmission tunnel and touchscreen makes the interface easy enough to navigate.

There’s no criticising the material quality either, the dashboard and doors constructed of a particularly soft-touch plastic, while the seats and door cards are well-trimmed. In fact it’s fair to say this is the best-built Mazda we’ve experienced in recent years.

Refinement is definitely one of the car’s strong points, and it’s fair to say that Mazda 3 comfort is better than many – but not all – of its competitors. We’d certainly happily cross a continent or two in the new 3 – as Mazda did for a publicity stunt, driving a brace of 3’s from its Hiroshima birthplace all the way to the Frankfurt motorshow in 2013 – and have no worries about feeling particularly tired at the end of it all.

There’s little wind noise evident, and regardless of wheel and tyre combination we didn’t notice any unpleasant road roar either. Crucially on the admittedly smooth Barcelona roads of our test route we didn’t experience any penalty for choosing the larger 18-inch alloy wheels over the 16-inch rims either, and any road imperfections we did traverse were expertly masked.

Both the standard and sports seats were comfortable, and we didn’t feel short-changed in the standard cloth items over the optional leather-covered chairs. We would have liked a little more reach adjustment in the steering wheel and an independent front to back height adjustment for the electric seats in the Sport Nav models though, just to ensure the perfect driving position.