Mazda 3 Interior Layout & Technology | Top Gear
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Monday 11th December


What is it like on the inside?

It’s very conventional, mostly bucking the trend to exchange dials and buttons for screens. Most manufacturers do this to clear up the layout, but here it’s clean and simple anyway. The heating is easy to use, the infotainment menu structure (operated by a clickwheel on the console) is easily understood. The switchgear is logically gathered. And it’s attractive and well constructed. You’ll be at ease in here, able to operate it on the move easily. So will your Aunt Mable.

The driving position is exemplary, with a massive amount of reach adjustment in the steering column and while there’s not enough underthigh tilt to bucket the seats, the backrest is very well shaped. It’s a comfortable car to be in, even when you've got a couple of hundred miles to do.

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Well, as long as you’re in one of the two front seats. Those restricted to the rear aren’t going to get off to such a bright start. They’ll inevitably bang their heads on the door surround while getting in, and once recovered will note there’s not much legroom and it’s quite dark due to the thick C-pillars and smallish rear window. And on certain trims the back windows are tinted, filtering out even more natural light. Hmm.

Rear passengers will also need to be mindful of where they keep their stuff: the front central armrest contains a storage box, but the lid needs to slide back a couple of inches before it can be flipped open. And if you've got bags stuffed in the footwell, that gets annoying.

Kids will be fine back there of course, unless they’re of the age where you have to insert them into seats yourself. That’s why family buyers favour a crossover. Less bending over. Nor is the boot much to write home about: high sill, only 334 litres.

A couple of other points to make: Mazda has worked hard to improve the sound quality, moving the bass speakers to a more rigid mounting point under the dash and the tweeters to the doortop. There’s a Bose 12-speaker system on the options list. And the voice recognition has been enhanced – you can now ‘barge-in’, shouting over the voice guidance (excellent) and instead of talking your way through a menu system to call home, ‘one shot command’ allows you to say it all at once.

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Oh, and just because Volvo does something does not make it a good idea. Mazda has copied the Swedes and migrated the keyfob buttons to the side rather than the face. It’s not right, and it’s not proper. Stop it.

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