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?...

New Hyundai i30 & Skoda Octavia vs Mazda 3

Our verdict

Sometimes the word ‘facelift’ doesn’t tell the whole story, but in the case of the latest Octavia it’s the perfect description. Its restyled nose is the only major change to what was already an utterly brilliant family car, so the fact that there haven’t been any notable mechanical tweaks or engine updates is no bad thing.

The Octavia remains much roomier inside than any of its peers, while also being good to drive, classy inside and very well equipped in SE L trim. True, it isn’t as cheap to buy as it once was, but it’s still superb value in the long run, especially if you buy on finance. Put simply, it’s still easily the best car in this hotly contested class.

The new i30 comes closest to stealing the Octavia’s crown. We’re big fans of its punchy turbocharged engine, great driving position, user-friendly infotainment system and healthy roster of safety kit, which includes not only automatic emergency braking – all three cars get this – but also lane-keeping assistance. It’s just a pity the i30 is so expensive to buy on finance and isn’t predicted to hold onto its value very well. The fact that it’s the most stingily equipped of our trio only compounds its problems.

You certainly can’t level these accusations at the Mazda 3; it’s incredibly well equipped and yet will do no more damage to your wallet than the Octavia if you buy on finance. Sadly, being relatively cheap doesn’t make up for its disappointing driving experience, low-rent interior, noisy cruising manners and inflexible engine. The 3 therefore remains an also-ran.

1st – Skoda Octavia

New Hyundai i30 & Skoda Octavia vs Mazda 3

For Huge inside; punchy engine; best ride and handling balance; quietest cruiser; cheapest to own

Against Suspension noise; relatively pricey to insure

Verdict Improvements are small, but they’re enough to keep the Skoda clear of the field

Read our full Skoda Octavia review

Find a great Skoda Octavia deal

2nd – Hyundai i30

New Hyundai i30 & Skoda Octavia vs Mazda 3

For Strong engine; fine driving position; safety kit

Against Expensive in the long run; stingy kit list

Verdict Plenty to like. Shame it isn’t cheaper to own

Read our full Hyundai i30 review

Find a great Hyundai i30 deal

3rd – Mazda 3

New Hyundai i30 & Skoda Octavia vs Mazda 3

For Load of standard kit; cheapest company car

Against Ride and handling; noisy; low-rent interior

Verdict Closer to getting two stars than four

Read our full Mazda 3 review

Find a great Mazda 3 deal

Also consider:

Specifications: Hyundai i30 1.4 T-GDi 140 SE Nav

Engine size 1.4-litre petrol, turbo

List price £20,395

Target Price £20,395

Power 138bhp

Torque 178lb ft

0-60mph 8.6 seconds

Top speed 130mph

Fuel economy 52.3mpg

CO2 emissions 124g/km

Specifications: Mazda 3 2.0 120 Sport Nav

Engine size 2.0-litre petrol

List price £20,845

Target Price £20,221

Power 118bhp

Torque 155lb ft

0-60mph 9.9 seconds

Top speed 123mph

Fuel economy 55.4mpg

CO2 emissions 119g/km

Specifications: Skoda Octavia 1.4 TSI 150 SE L

Engine size 1.4-litre petrol, turbo

List price £21,405

Target Price £19,472

Power 148bhp

Torque 184lb ft

0-60mph 8.7 seconds

Top speed 136mph

Fuel economy 54.3mpg

CO2 emissions 121g/km

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