The Mazda’s interior comes with plenty of soft-touch materials and bundles of kit as standard but it doesn’t feel quite as solid as the likes of the VW Golf
The Mazda 3 takes an altogether sportier approach to interior design than most small family cars. Dead ahead you’ll spot a large rev-counter nestled between a pair of small digital displays and a leather-trimmed steering wheel with contrasting red stitching. It all looks far more interesting than the VW Golf or Skoda Octavia’s rather drab cabins.
But it’s not as well built as the Golf’s interior. Plastics on the Mazda’s centre console and under the door handles feel brittle and scratchy although there are some much nicer chrome and glossy black trims on the doors and dashboard. There are plenty of soft plastics in the areas you’ll touch most too, and the 3’s heating and ventilation controls feel pretty solid – if not quite as well built as in a Skoda Octavia.
Entry-level Mazda 3s get a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation (a costly option in most cars this size), a CD player, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and a USB connection for your phone as standard. Mid-range SE-L Nav versions get heated seats while range-topping Sport Nav models come with an upgraded Bose stereo, too. Unfortunately, leather seats are a pricey option across the range.
Don’t expect the Mazda 3 to be the last word in quality, but its slick-looking cabin comes packed with sporty touches
All Mazda 3s come with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity as standard.
The screen’s mounted right up on the dashboard so it’s easy to glance at on the move but it isn’t quite as responsive as the systems in a VW Golf or Vauxhall Astra. Thankfully, its menus are clear, easy to read and all its on-screen buttons are logically laid out.
Using the scroll wheel on the centre console to navigate through the system’s settings is fairly intuitive and inputting a postcode using the on-screen keyboard is a breeze. Taller drivers may have to lean forward to reach the touchscreen, however, but once you’re on the move it delivers clear, easy-to-follow directions.
Pairing your phone using the standard Bluetooth connection takes no time at all but there’s no option to get the Mazda 3 with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring systems. As a result, you can’t use your phone’s navigation or music streaming apps through the car’s built-in screen like you can in a VW Golf or Skoda Octavia.
The standard stereo is passable but top-spec Sport Nav cars get an upgraded Bose unit with nine speakers. It’s louder and bassier than the standard system and well worth moving up a trim if you love your music.