Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2
  • Plush interior feels high-quality
  • Infotainment system refreshingly simple
  • But some ergonomic issues

Jump behind the wheel and you’re met with what appears to be a very minimalist interior. A few sweeping lines dominate the dashboard with a large infotainment screen neatly nestled on top, with a set of simple, crisp and clear dials. It’s refreshingly simple, plus a standard-fit head-up display, too.

Quality is very good too, with impressively squishy materials used on the dashtop, armrests and door cards, with all the controls feeling solid. The rotary controller for the infotainment system and its buttons surrounding feel a little bit lightweight and cheap, but that doesn’t stop it being very simple to use. The graphics are simple and crisp, with a necessary amount of menus and nothing over the top.

And while the heating controls are simple enough, they can be quite fiddly to use on the move as they’re nestled under the dashpad that sweeps from one side of the car to the other.

Storage is good though, with a large area ahead of the gearlever, a generous cubby beneath the large (and adjustable) armrest and some big door bins.

However, we noticed some squeaks and rattles on the model we tested. This might not be the case for all cars, and it’s unlikely to be a significant reflection on how the car is built, but it was a little surprising given how quiet and refined it seems inside the 3.

There are some nice touches, though. The switches on the steering wheel are well integrated, the stalks on the steering column feel substantial and higher-spec cars with Bose sound systems have some expensive-looking metal speakers on the doors.

Depending on the model you choose, you can get different colours for the leather upholstery too, which gives the cabin a bit of a lift.

Is it comfortable?

  • Excellent driving position for most drivers
  • Supremely comfortable seats help things
  • Firm ride the only thing to upset things, but not much

The best bit about the Mazda 3’s seats is that you don’t need to get a top-spec car to get the best ones. All have been designed to be good for your spine, and a long journey in any is unlikely to cause any discomfort. They’re soft enough to be comfortable but supportive enough to keep you in a good driving position.

Adjustment is plentiful, and if you do go for one of the models further up the range (GT Sport or GT Sport Tech), they’re covered in soft leather.

The armrests are well positioned and themselves very squashable, so you won’t have your arms and elbows on hard plastic.

Ride comfort is a little fidgety on models with larger wheels, but it’s never anything unbearable – it’s mostly noticeable on roads with consistently broken surfaces. It deals well with bad bumps and speed humps, though.

Refinement is particularly impressive. You do need to work the engine quite hard to get up to speed at times, but even then there’s very little road or wind noise finding its way into the cabin, making journeys very hushed and relaxed.