The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
All models have firm, supportive seats that have a large range of adjustment, including driver’s seat height and steering wheel rake and reach. The pedals are well placed, too, leading to a natural seating position that’s perfectly comfortable on a long trip. It’s worth stepping up to mid-spec SE trim, though, because this brings a front centre armrest and adjustable lumbar support to tailor the backrest for a better fit. The vRS models get bespoke seats that are even more supportive and especially comfortable on long journeys.
Disappointingly, only the top-spec Laurin & Klement and vRS Challenge trims have a powered driver’s seat. The manual seat adjustments of the other models provide plenty of adjustment, though. There are physical buttons for the climate control and heated seats, which are clearly labelled and easy to use on the move.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Forward visibility is good; the windscreen pillars rarely obscure your view at junctions or roundabouts and all trims come with LED headlights that are super-illuminating at night. Over-the-shoulder visibility isn’t great, though, because the car’s chunky rear pillars restrict your vision when parking.
That said, rear parking sensors are standard from SE trim upwards (they’re optional on S), and you can add front parking sensors and a rear-view camera as options on most versions. Parking assistance is available on L&K and vRS Challenge trims – this will identify when a parking space is big enough and help you to manoeuvre into it – while trailer assist, for those who frequently need to tow, is available as an extension of the park assist system.
Sat nav and infotainment
The standard 8.0in colour touchscreen has an extremely high-definition display. It controls an infotainment system that includes digital radio, Bluetooth and audio streaming. Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink are standard, allowing you to use some of your smartphone’s apps through the touchscreen, including Google or Apple Maps. The touchscreen is responsive, has logical menu layouts and the big icons are easy to prod when you’re on the move, plus there are some easy-to-access shortcut buttons to make the system easy to navigate.
SE Drive trim and above feature an upgraded system with factory-fitted sat-nav and onboard wi-fi. You also get a year’s subscription for Infotainment Online, which delivers onboard connectivity for web browsing and live data access, including traffic and weather reports and the availability of local parking spaces. Laurin & Klement trim adds a bigger 9.2in touchscreen.
With eight speakers as standard, the stereo’s sound quality is okay by class standards, but still a little tinny. A more powerful 10-speaker, 570W Canton system is an option on most versions and standard on Laurin & Klement.
As with the Seat Leon, some of the materials around the lower parts of the interior and around the seat bases feel more durable than upmarket, but the plastics in more prominent areas are nicely textured and pleasant to touch. Generally, the Octavia's interior isn't quite up to Volkswagen Golf standards, even though some of the switchgear is shared between the two models, but it has a distinct edge over the Ford Focus.
To enhance the perceived quality, SE trim and above get contrasting trim highlights on the dashboard. It brightens things up over the entry-level car’s slightly dark, dour ambience.
A stylish and sophisticated hatch, the Mazda 3 featu...
A good choice if you want SUV styling and low running costs
Quiet, comfortable and well equipped; more than deserving of i...
Hybrid engines offer exceptionally low running costs and, all-...