Our cars: Mazda 3, Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai i10 and Kia Carens

* Mazda 3 dashboard is a brilliantly simple affair * Qashqai impresses with comprehensive safety kit * i10’s light steering is a boon when parking...

Our cars: Mazda 3, Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai i10 and Kia Carens

Every day, we take a look at a few of the cars we're living with. Today, it's the turn of the Mazda 3, Hyundai i10, Nissan Qashqai and Kia Carens.

Mazda 3

When Mazda launched the new 3, it made much of the fact that its designers had thought hard about keeping the driver's eyes on the road. I'm happy to report that they've pulled it off brilliantly.

The dash layout is simple, streamlined and well organised - reducing the need for any fumbling or unnecessary distraction.

Another clever feature is the steering wheel position. It adjusts for reach and height, which is great, but even if you get it wrong, your view of the centre console and speedo is never compromised. It's very impressive.

Outward visibility is, on the whole, spot on, with big, well-angled wing mirrors allowing you to see around the car. I’ve certainly appreciated not having to twist all the time to look behind me when overtaking.

My only gripe so far – and I must stress that it’s not a deal breaker – is that the curvy, muscular tail end and small rear window combo requires serious frown-inducing concentration (and some trial and error) when reverse-parking against walls and fences.

Parking sensors would solve this, but sadly you can’t add them as an option and they don’t become standard until you get to SE-L trim level, which adds an extra £840 to the price for our engine choice.

By Emma Butcher

Read all of our updates on life with our Mazda 3 2.0 120.

In the car park

Senior consumer editor Matthew Burrow finds the Hyundai i10’s light steering a boon for urban parking.

Database editor Mark Pearson puts the Nissan Qashqai’s safety kit to the test - and sacrifices a hushed driving experience in the process.

Road tester Rory White makes good use of the Kia-supplied Thule bike rack for our Carens on a trip to the New Forest.

Read more about our long-term fleet.