From £14,8058

Dashboard, infotainment, sat-nav and passenger space

The previous Mazda 3’s cabin had quite a technical look, with non-leathery textures for the (hard) plastics, some translucent knobs and plenty of sequentially flashing lights for the stereo controls. The new fascia is calmer and curvier, with a swathe of padded slush moulding ahead of the front passenger that continues behind the instrument cluster.

Beneath the hood that this forms is the same red-digit display as before – it contains stereo information and the settings selected by the round heater knobs far below – but there’s a new, small screen that can show trip computer information and, optionally, a sat-nav display. At centre stage, though, is a new-look stereo system with big, bold and simple knobs and buttons. It’s very easy to use, aided further by remote controls on the steering wheel, and it sounds excellent.

I didn’t hear a single beep or chime while driving this car. Either the operating logic is impeccable or there aren’t any

This interior is best encountered at night, not because its materials don’t stand scrutiny – they do, even if most of them are hard plastics chosen for their cheapness – but because it generates quite a light show. When you open the door, LEDs illuminate the footwells and interior door handles. The instruments and centre console controls also illuminate, then grow brighter. Thereafter, if you touch any stereo or air-con control, its background illumination intensifies.As for space, rear room is adequate, with good foot space under the front seats, but a central passenger will have an uncomfortable ride because the rear seat and armrest are most definitely shaped for two. The backrests fold down to create a stepped load bay, and the boot itself is long, deep and high silled.

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The front seats support their occupants well, with height and lumbar adjustment for the driver, who, if tall, might find the steering wheel too far away even on full rearward adjustment.