Mazda 3 hatchback front space
Even tall adults will find no space issues in the front of the 3; there's plenty of leg and shoulder room, and even if you fit the optional sunroof you're unlikely to be troubled by a shortage of head room unless you're well over six feet tall.
There's a decent line-up of storage areas, too, including bottle holders in both doors, a rubber-coated 'sticky' area beyond the gear lever and a reasonably deep glovebox that has room for the owner's manual and a small drinks bottle.
There's also a deeper bin beneath the armrest; it's not lined, though, so any of its contents are likely to rattle around against the hard plastic finish.
Mazda 3 hatchback rear space
The 3's rear accommodation is a bit of a mixed bag. There's a decent amount of leg and knee room, and the interior is wide enough for two adults to sit beside each other in comfort. It's tighter for three grown-ups, though, and even if you're there on your own, you may feel slightly hemmed in by the narrowing window line and the thick rear pillars.
There's not much storage space in the back either – just a couple of door pockets, each big enough for a mid-sized drinks bottle, and netting to hold magazines or books. Put simple, if rear space is a priority you'd be much better of with a Skoda Octavia.
Mazda 3 hatchback seating flexibility
Mazda makes great claims of a 'flexible seating system', but in truth there's nothing here to set the 3 apart from its rivals. The rear seat is split 60/40 and it folds to a pretty flat position, making it easy to slide in longer loads. However, it's disappointing that you need to open the rear doors to access the lowering release handles; there are no levers inside the boot.
It's also a pity there's no option to add adjustable lumbar support for the front passenger seat.
Mazda 3 hatchback boot space
The 3 hatchback's boot is slightly smaller than a VW Golf's, at 364 litres with the rear seats in place and 1263 litres with them folded. In practical terms that's more than enough for a large weekly shop to sit behind the seats, and you shouldn't have too much trouble squeezing in a set of golf clubs or the chassis and seat of a buggy.
The space is reasonably square, although the rear wheel arches do intrude at the side and Mazda doesn't supply any baggage hooks to keep your shopping from rolling around. There's a high lip to lift loads over, too, which won't be helpful if you're dealing with heavy items.
The 3 Fastback version (in effect a small saloon) has a slightly larger overall capacity (419 litres) but while the bootlid does move right up out of the way when you open it, the aperture that it leaves still isn't anywhere near as convenient as the hatchback's.