Our Fleet Test Drive: Mazda 3 - 7th report
23 September 2014
Author: Hugh Hunston
For many drivers, interiors are as much workplaces as offices, and so ideally ought to provide a suitable environment.
Our Mazda 3 offers an essentially tranquil interior that, unfortunately, is compromised by exterior road noise from the Toyo tyres being particularly sensitive to changing road surfaces, sometimes intrusively. In mitigation, however, this is arguably accentuated by a low-decibel driving environment.
Both ergonomically and operationally the interior is pretty sound. The chunky leather-bound steering wheel, well-weighted gear lever and offset conventional handbrake are reassuringly solid to manipulate.
Instruments and controls combine form and function fairly intuitively, even if the seven-inch infotainment screen, accessed by a central rotary bevelled control, does not slide out of sight, and cannot be blacked out, unlike the Honda Civic's. There's also a neat, well-positioned instrument cluster, with speed defined by a novel glowing halo surrounding the needle.
If the halo effect is not enough, the info screen registers prevailing limits, providing a surrounding yellow card when thresholds are ignored.
Finally, the otherwise well thought-out interior lacks sufficient cubby holes, with only narrow, bottle-sized orifices built into the front and rear door panels.