Drivers of all shapes and sizes should have no problem getting comfortable behind the wheel of the 3. There's a good range of adjustment on the seat, and the steering wheel moves in and out as well as up and down. Lumbar adjustment is standard on the driver's seat too, even on entry-level editions, while a centrally mounted armrest can be used by both front occupants.
All of the major controls are within easy reach and the touchscreen can also be operated via a dial positioned between the front seats.
Mazda 3 visibility
It's easy enough to see out of the windscreen of the 3; the top of the dashboard isn't particularly high, and mounting the side mirrors on the doors instead of at the base of the front pillars has allowed Mazda to improve the visibility out of the bottom corner of the screen.
The view out of the back is a different story, though; the hatchback glass is fairly narrow, so you may find it difficult to judge the rear extremities when you're reversing. All bar entry-level models get rear parking sensors, however.
Mazda 3 infotainment
Even the entry-level SE editions get a clear, centrally mounted 7in display. The system is easy to use and quick to respond – and it's surprising how quickly you learn to use it via a mixture of the combination of a touchscreen and rotary controller.
SE spec also includes Bluetooth connectivity and app integration that can use your mobile phone's data connection to access internet radio, Facebook and Twitter.
All the trim levels badged ‘nav’ get satellite navigation, as you’d expect, which is easy to use and quick to respond to inputs.
All specs feature a CD player, steering wheel audio and Bluetooth controls, aux sockets, USB ports and DAB radio as standard.
Between the good equipment levels and decent usability, the Mazda’s is the best infotainment system of its immediate rivals, although if you look to the more expensive alternatives, BMW’s iDrive interface is slicker still.
Mazda 3 build quality
Perceived quality hasn’t always been Mazda’s strongest suit, but the 3 impresses on this score. There are dense, soft-touch plastics on most of the dashboard, and smart enough finishes and flourishes of chrome in the right places. In fact, only the lower section of the centre console lets the side down; it feels a little bit lightweight and flimsy.
Still, all of the switches feel pretty solid, and the controls you touch regularly, such as the ventilation dials, and the indicator and light stalks, are nicely weighted.