The interior layout, fit and finish
The more expensive Audi A3 Saloon’s interior is a little smarter than that of the 3 Saloon, and the fact that we’re even comparing the two is a testament to just how good the Mazda’s is. It feels solid and well put together and features plenty of high-quality materials. The dashboard combines dense, soft-touch plastics with attractive finishes and chrome trim highlights. You certainly won't feel short-changed if you compare it to the likes of the larger but similarly priced Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport.
Drivers shouldn’t have any issues getting comfortable behind the wheel, regardless of their shape or size, thanks to the broad range of adjustments possible on both the seat and steering wheel. The only issue is that adjustable lumbar support isn't available until you reach the top-end trims, where a fully-electric driver’s seat is standard.
The uncluttered dashboard is easy to use, as are the physical buttons it employs for all frequently used functions, including the climate control. This makes operation while driving far more intuitive than it is on certain rivals, which require that you dive into a touchscreen menu if you want to adjust the temperature, for example. The centrally mounted 8.8in infotainment display, meanwhile, uses an intuitive rotary controller and shortcut buttons mounted between the front seats. It’s much easier to use than the touchscreen system of a Skoda Superb, for example.
There's an impressive array of features, too. All models get a DAB radio, Bluetooth, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The standard eight-speaker sound system is impressive enough, and the top GT Sport and GT Sport Lux models get a more powerful 12-speaker Bose setup.
The 3 Saloon is pleasingly easy to look out of, thanks in part to an extra section of glass by the back pillars that extends your view out of the rear windows. Rear parking sensors are included on entry-level Sport trim, while the others also get front parking sensors and a rear-view camera. The range-topping GT Sport Tech model adds a bird’s eye view camera.
Adaptive LED headlights are standard on all trims. These can automatically change the light pattern so as not to dazzle oncoming drivers, or to illuminate around corners when you turn the wheel.