Mazda 3 Review

The Mazda 3 has a high-quality interior, a great infotainment system and is fun to drive, but if you value rear space and a practical boot most, there are better hatchbacks.

8/10
Wowscore

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Fun to drive
  • Interior quality
  • Infotainment system

What's not so good

  • Rear space
  • Awkward boot
  • Alternatives are comfier

What do you want to read about Mazda 3?

Overall verdict

The Mazda 3 has a high-quality interior, a great infotainment system and is fun to drive, but if you value rear space and a practical boot most, there are better hatchbacks.

While the Mazda 3 has always been a competent family hatchback, it has struggled to stand against the likes of the ubiquitous but nevertheless impressive Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.

However, this all-new 3 has a sharp new look and Mazda’s latest engines and technology, which is designed to tempt you away from premium hatchbacks like the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class.

It certainly has the looks to do the job – from the front its sharp lines and dark grille mean business while at the back its spoiler and prominent LED lights are similarly aggressive. That said, it’s perhaps a shame that from the side it looks a little under-wheeled and dumpy towards at the rear.

Still, climb inside and the Mazda 3’s interior helps you quickly forget about that. The cabin is loaded with soft-touch materials, chrome trims and solid switches, which together embarrass a Focus’ innards and easily rival a Golf for pure plushness, if not quite an Audi A3’s.

Not only that – you also get a fantastic infotainment system. Every Mazda 3 comes with an 8-inch colour screen which is controlled via a rotary controller and menu shortcut buttons between the front seats or your voice. Also standard are built-in sat-nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and an 8-speaker sound system. All-told, it’s a really easy system to navigate and using the rotary dial and shortcut buttons is a doddle while driving.

No matter if you have manual or electric seat adjustment you’ll find it easy to get comfy, and the steering wheel adjustment is generous too. A couple of adults will have no issues stretching out in the front and there are useful cubbies in front of the gear lever and beneath the central armrest.

You needn’t stray beyond SE-L Lux trim when buying a Mazda 3. It gets all your needs plus a few cheeky wants, all for a very sensible price. Lovely.

Mat Watson
carwow expert

In the back it’s a different story. Adults will struggle for leg room sat behind those in the front and while head room isn’t great, the fact that tall adults will find their eyes above the window line makes it feel claustrophobic too. And although the 3’s boot is slightly larger than Focus’s on paper and only just shy of a Golf’s, in reality is large entrance lip and narrow opening make it less easy to live with.

For now, there are two engine choices – a 122hp 2.0-litre petrol or 116hp 1.8-litre diesel. Both are amongst the quietest and smoothest engines of their kind, but neither is particularly swift so need to be worked hard when overtaking or joining a motorway. If you do lots of miles, the diesel’s better fuel economy at a steady cruise will be useful, but the cheaper petrol’s clever mild hybrid and cylinder deactivation technology mean 40mpg is easily achievable and hence make it the better choice for most people.

In town the Mazda 3’s precise steering, consistent pedals and snappy manual gearshift all help take the stress out of urban driving. However, it isn’t particularly comfy over bumps and while it’s easy to see out of the 3 forwards, to the side and over the shoulder visibility is compromised by the 3’s slim windowline and small rear screen. Still, rear parking sensors are standard on every car and you only need to jump one run to SE-L Lux to get front sensors and reversing camera too.

Push the Mazda 3 harder on a country road and while it doesn’t excite quite like a Ford Focus there’s no denying its nicely weighted steering, good grip and sturdy body control all make going around corners quickly good fun. And when you want to take things easy on the motorway, the 3 has one of the quietest cabins in terms of wind and road noise of any family hatch.

Which all adds up to one impressive package. A high-quality cabin, great infotainment system and engaging drive combine with a long standard equipment list and keen prices to make this the most rounded Mazda 3 ever. It’s just a shame that its rear space and boot aren’t better thought-out and, as such, if you regularly carry people in the back and lots of luggage there are better family hatchback options.

If not, have a look at our deals for the best Mazda 3 prices.

Mazda 3
RRP £20,595 Avg. carwow saving £1,318 Discover your best deals upfront
RRP £20,595 Find new, used & lease car deals