New Hyundai i30 & Skoda Octavia vs Mazda 3
The Octavia has long been one of our favourite family cars. But has a mid-life update kept it ahead of the all-new Hyundai i30 and the cheaper Mazda 3?...
What are they like inside?
If you want maximum space for your money, get the Skoda. It’s the longest of our trio by a country mile, so even tall adults sitting in the back will have plenty of room to kick back. You will fit in the back of the other two if you’re 6ft tall, but you won’t relish a long journey. The Mazda's sombre interior and small side windows make it feel the most claustrophobic, although it actually has fractionally more leg room than the Hyundai.
It’s a clear win for the Skoda when it comes to boot space, too. Its load area is more than 25cm longer than the Mazda’s and 33cm longer than the Hyundai’s; this makes a huge difference when you’re trying to slot in a bulky pushchair or take all your garden rubbish to the tip in one go. There isn’t much in it for boot width, but the Skoda’s is tallest and the Mazda’s shallowest.
All of these cars have 60/40 split-folding rear seats as standard, but dropping their backrests is easiest in the Skoda if you add the optional (£90) release handles conveniently mounted just inside the boot entrance. Otherwise, you have to push buttons next to the rear head restraints and haul the seatbacks down the old way – like you have to in the Hyundai and Mazda.
Getting comfy behind the wheel isn’t tricky in any of our contenders. All have plenty of adjustment in their driver’s seats to cater for different shapes and sizes, along with adjustable lumbar support to stop you slouching.
You might wish the steering wheel dropped a little lower in the Skoda, but it certainly has the classiest interior of our trio; its wheel rim is covered in soft, fine-grain leather and nearly all of the dash feels reassuringly squidgy.
There aren’t as many soft-touch materials in the Hyundai, although everything is pleasantly textured and feels suitably solid. Sadly, that isn’t the case inside the Mazda; it’s disappointingly low-rent, with cheaper-feeling and flimsier plastics the order of the day throughout.