Mazda CX-3 review

Mazda has been enjoying great success as of late, thanks to its new model lineup. No longer just known as the company that produces that two-seater roadster with a few other cars on the side, Mazda’s current range is one of the most capable and desirable on the market.

Buoyed up by the success of cars like the Mazda6 and the CX-5 crossover, Mazda announced the latest addition to its family in October last year. Dubbed the CX-3, it’s essentially a more compact version of the popular CX-5, with rivals like the Nissan Juke set firmly in its crosshairs.

If the rest of Mazda’s range is anything to go by, the new CX-3 should be a great car indeed, but is it really necessary? Compared with its larger brother, what can a smaller car offer that the bigger one can’t? Let’s find out!

Exterior

The first thing you notice about the CX-3 in person is just how small it is. It’s called a compact crossover for a reason, but even by the standards of its rival it seems seriously dinky.

Based on the new Mazda2 supermini, the CX-3’s underpinnings are obvious in its size and dimensions, albeit raised a little higher off the ground and slightly tougher looking, to stay true to its crossover SUV roots.

Don’t let its small size fool you, however, as the CX-3 is an absolutely fantastic car to look at. Based on the same KODO design language as Mazda uses on all of its current-generation models, it features the same large grille and swooping creases and curves that’s lightyears ahead of its closest competitors.

Slicked-back A pillars lend a coupe-like profile and a sporty stance on the road, however a ride height that’s 50mm taller than the Mazda2 supermini gives the CX-3 a much better view of the road ahead.

Small it may be, but it’s also plenty practical and easy to access with a total of five doors, while its compact dimensions mean that it’s easy to park, even on tight city streets. Add that to things like a choice of metallic and pearlescent paintjobs and a range of gorgeous alloy wheels in various sizes, and the CX-3 is every bit as smart as its larger siblings.

Interior

Inside, the CX-3 is very similar to the Mazda2, but that’s no bad thing. Attractive and smartly laid-out, the interior features standard kit like cruise control and a variety of safety equipment, including an electronic parking brake and hill hold assist feature.

Higher trim levels get access to additional mod cons like heated seats, leather upholstery and a reversing camera to aid parking, alongside diamond-cut alloy wheels and a seven-inch touchscreen which supports Mazda’s latest version of the MZD Connect infotainment system.

Finally, range-topping Sport Nav models get exclusive and luxury features like an Active Driving Display heads-up system, which beams driver information onto the windscreen, along with a BOSE surround sound system.

There’s also plenty of space inside for passengers, though due to its small size the CX-3 mightn’t have quite enough legroom for overly tall passengers, but it’s certainly nowhere near unliveable. It also comes with a flexible cargo board boot floor, which can be lifted up to provide a flat loading space while the rear seats are folded, while boot capacity clocks in at a fairly spacious 350 litres.

On the road

Two engines are available with the CX-3, a less powerful but economical 104bhp 1.4-litre diesel, and a larger 2.0-litre petrol engine which lends a lot more power and is available in a choice of either 118bhp or 148bhp outputs.

Buyers also have the option of specifying four-wheel drive and automatic gearboxes on some of the models, though standard setup is with a manual gearbox and front-wheel drive only.

On the road, the CX-3 performs pretty well, able to sprint from 0-62mph in as little as 8.7 seconds when specified with the most powerful engine, before heading all the way up to 124mph.

Soft suspension lends a comfortable ride and does a good job of ironing out bumps, potholes and inconsistencies on the road, while the car also grips the road superbly in the corners. Easy to drive both in town and on main roads, the CX-3’s steering is exceptionally smooth, and seems to get even better the faster you push it.

That said, the largest 18-inch wheels are a little more uncomfortable than the standard 16-inch ones, while the engines are a tad noisy compared to the refinement of other cars in Mazda’s range, like the Mazda6. When all is said and done, however, the CX-3 is still a highly entertaining car, with the right mixture of comfort and fun handling.

Running costs are also quite competitive, with the front-wheel drive CX-3 with diesel engine returning as much as 70.6mpg with CO2 emissions of just 105g/km, meaning road tax will only cost you £20 a year.

Verdict

Halfway between crossover and supermini hatchback, the Mazda CX-3 might seem like a bit of a mongrel on paper, but get behind the wheel and it’s one of the most satisfying baby crossovers currently on the market.

The CX-3 blends the perfect mix of practicality and style, with plenty of space and a surprisingly fun drive for a car of its kind. Add that to low running costs and the fact that, like the rest of its siblings, the CX-3 is one seriously great car to look at, it’ll appeal perfectly to drivers who want a compact car with just that little bit extra

Available to buy from Perrys Mazda dealerships from 19th June, the new Mazda CX-3 is priced from just £17,595 for the entry-level trim.