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

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

Skoda Scala front

Our verdict

This is another eerily close test, with two quite different cars finishing very close, but the Skoda Scala takes the win. Sure, it’s outstanding in fewer areas than the Mazda 3 (boot and rear seat space are its main points of superiority) but it manages to be consistently better across the board than its nearest rival here. As a result, the Scala will be the easiest to live with.

If you prize interior quality, loads of toys, a brilliant infotainment system and top-notch safety above all else, the 3 is a superb choice. You’ll have to put up with areas of greater weakness, though, and it’s a particular shame that its firm ride doesn’t translate into the sportier handling Mazda trades on.

The Kia Ceed trails behind these two overall, but if you’re on a tighter budget, don’t dismiss it. 

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1st – Skoda Scala

Skoda Scala studio

For Flexible engine; best economy; smoothest ride; tidiest handling; most rear space; biggest boot
Against Most wind and road noise; so-so quality

What Car? rating Four stars out of five

Mazda 3 studio

For Quickest acceleration; best interior quality; best infotainment; most refined; best equipped; most safety aids
Against Poor wet-weather grip; firmest ride; no lumbar support; cramped rear seats

What Car? rating Four stars out of five

Read our full used Mazda 3 review >>

Find a used Mazda 3 for sale >>

3rd – Kia Ceed

Kia Ceed studio

For Cheapest to buy; solidly made interior; decent boot space
Against So-so performance; worst fuel economy and emissions; unsettled ride at times

What Car? rating Three stars out of five

Read our full used Kia Ceed review >>

Find a used Kia Ceed for sale >>

Specifications: Kia Ceed 3 1.0 T-GDi

Engine 3cyl, 998cc, turbo, petrol
Power 118bhp @ 6000 rpm
Torque 127lb ft @ 1500-4000rpm
Gearbox 6-spd manual
0-60mph 10.6sec
Top speed 118mph
Official fuel economy 37.6mpg (WLTP)
Test MPG 25.0mpg
CO2 emissions 131g/km (WLTP)

Specifications: Mazda 3 Skyactive-G 2.0 122 SE-L Lux

Engine 4cyl, 1998cc, turbo, petrol
Power 120bhp @ 6000 rpm
Torque 157lb ft @ 4000rpm 
Gearbox 6-spd manual
0-60mph 9.4sec
Top speed 122mph
Official fuel economy 45.6mpg (WLTP)
Test MPG 39.1mpg
CO2 emissions 117g/km (WLTP)

Specifications: Skoda Scala 1.0 115 SE L

Engine 3cyl, 999cc, turbo, petrol
Power 113bhp @ 5000-5500rpm
Torque 148lb ft @ 2000-3500rpm
Gearbox 6-spd manual
0-60mph 9.8sec
Top speed 125mph
Official fuel economy 49.6mpg (WLTP)
Test MPG 42.1mpg
CO2 emissions 113g/km (WLTP)

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