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Used family cars: Kia Ceed vs Mazda 3 vs Skoda Scala practicality

Which used family car choice offers the best value: the classy Mazda 3, the hugely practical Skoda Scala, or the excellent after-sales package of the Kia Ceed?...

Kia Ceed rear seats

Space and practicality

Front space, rear space, seating flexibility, boot

In the front, each of these three has enough space to keep the tallest adults happy. The dimensions quoted for the Kia Ceed are for a car fitted with a panoramic glass roof, which reduces head room a little, but even then it’s acceptable. The biggest difference is that the Skoda Scala’s interior is narrower than both its rivals’, putting you closer to, if not actually brushing elbows with, your passenger.

Move to the rear and the Scala’s narrowness is less apparent (only the Ceed is significantly wider), plus it has bags of head room and by far the most leg room. The Ceed is still roomy enough for a six-footer to sit behind a similar sized driver without feeling too cramped, whereas they’ll find their knees in close proximity to the front seat and their head brushing the roof in the Mazda 3.

Even if you’re smaller, the 3’s acutely upswept rear windows make it the most claustrophobic, and it’s the hardest to get into the back of in the first place, due to the relatively small door apertures. If you need to get three adults in the back, it's possible, but with some squeezing of shoulders.

Mazda 3 rear seats

Again, the Scala is the best, thanks to good head room for the middle passenger and a tall but narrow central hump that leaves enough room for the middle passenger’s feet. The Ceed betters the 3, which feels the most confined.

At first glance, the Ceed doesn’t look too shabby for storage space, with a couple of shelves in front of the gearlever, decent-sized cupholders behind it and some space under the sliding central armrest. However, the door pockets are small and the shelves are unlined, so your belongings tend to slide about in corners.

The Scala has larger door pockets and a rubberised coating for the big cubby in front of the gearlever to stop things rattling around. But, as in the Ceed, a tall drink can get in the way when you’re changing gear.

The 3 has the best oddment storage, starting with the biggest cubby of the three cars under its long centre armrest. Its cupholders are better positioned, in front of the gearlever, and there’s a handy tray that’s big enough for a phone, keys and other clutter.

Skoda Scala rear seats

The 3’s boot isn’t bad for the class, either, and it's a useful square shape that helps it swallow a solid tally of six cases. In everyday use you might find the very high load lip, relatively narrow aperture and absence of an adjustable boot floor annoying, though.

As an aside, the 3 has a button on its tailgate to lock its doors and boot. It’s clearly designed to make life easier, but we discovered that it still works if the key is in the car so you can lock yourself out. We’ve approached Mazda about this and have been informed that it’s a known issue that’s being looked into.

Like the 3, the Ceed has a uniformly shaped boot with a height-adjustable floor to give you extra flexibility, but with room for only five cases, it’s the smallest here. That’s because the Scala managed seven, and while that’s no match for the ludicrous 11 cases that the larger Octavia can swallow, it trumps virtually everything else in the class. A two-level boot floor is a reasonable £75 option, and in SE L trim you get an electrically operated tailgate as standard.

All our contenders have 60/40 split-folding rear seats, and without the Scala’s optional two-level boot floor you get an awkward step when the seats are down. The other two provide an even surface, which makes it easier to slide anything cumbersome onboard.

Boot space

Kia Ceed

Kia Ceed boot

Boot 395-1026 litres Suitcases 5

Mazda 3

Mazda 3 boot

Boot 358-1026 litres Suitcases 6

Skoda Scala

Skoda Scala boot

Boot 467-1410 litres Suitcases 7

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