Mazda CX-3

Mazda's CX-3 is a pleasing little compact SUV. June Neary bonded with it..

Will It Suit Me?

If you're looking for a small, supermini-based Crossover SUV these days, you're not short of choice. This week though, I thought I'd try one which may not be on your radar, Mazda's CX-3. It's cleverer, faster, more stylish and better to drive than most cars of the Juke-genre. For other brands entering this segment, it's an example of how it should be done.

Perfomance 70%
Handling 70%
Comfort 70%
Space 70%
Styling 90%
Build 80%
Value 70%
Equipment 80%
Economy 90%
Depreciation 80%
Insurance 70%

Mazda CX-3


I thought the CX-3 to be one of the most stylish of the current crop of 'B'-segment small SUVs. Get up close and personal for example, and you notice just how much more steeply raked its front A-pillars are than those of, say, a rival Nissan Juke or Renault Captur. Hence the more dynamic look emphasised by a sweeping bonnet that flows into a prominent three-dimensional grille. This is linked to the 'predator'-style headlights by chromed wings passing through lamps that on the top version are lit by jewel-like LEDs. Behind the wheel it's obvious just how much of this design is derived from the little Mazda2. Everything around you is familiar from that little supermini but the key difference with this CX-3 is this Crossover model's 50mm-higher driver's eyeline, delivering the loftier driving position and better all-round visibility that customers in this segment expect. For me though, it's the seats that are most important, height-adjustable and carefully designed for excellent support. In short, getting comfortable in this Mazda is as easy as you could ever imagine it would be in a car of this diminutive size. As for the back seat, well the steeply rising waistline and small side windows aren't ideal in combating claustrophobia but in compensation, the seats in the rear have been set 37mm higher than those at the front. That gives back seat folk a better view out, though taller occupants will be brushing their heads against the ceiling as a consequence. And the boot? Well you've quite a high loading lip to negotiate to get your stuff into it, but once you have, the 1,000mm loadbay width means you get 95-litres more room than you'd find in a Mazda2. Plus you can also make better use of the space thanks to this standard flexible cargo board boot floor, one of those you can re-position at different heights to suit the kind of load you want to carry. In its lowest position, there's room for a couple of decently-sized 67cm suitcases. Put the board in its highest position though and you can create a fully-flat load space when you push forward the 60:40 split-folding rear bench to free up 1,260-litres of total fresh air.

Behind the Wheel

I enjoyed my driving in the CX-3. Mazda's SKYACTIV chassis technology has made this car light and agile. As a result, it's as happy as a golden retriever puppy when the roads get twisty. The extra performance of the SKYATIV-G petrol engine lets you enjoy that to the full too. At 2.0-litres in size, offering a choice of either 120 or 150PS, it's a larger and more powerful unit than you might expect to find in a car of this size but the payoff is performance on another level from most rivals. The 105PS 1.5-litre SKYACTIV-D diesel that I tried was quite as peppy but it still proved energetic enough to allow me to enjoy myself. The ride quality's quite firm, but refinement's good enough to make longer trips possible.

Mazda CX-3

Value For Money

This CX-3 is designed to compete with smaller Crossover models like Nissan's Juke and Renault's Captur but, like many of the recent arrivals in this segment, it's been priced at a level that could easily see you paying the kind of money you might earmark for a slightly larger family-sized Crossover - say a car like Nissan's Qashqai. To be specific, you're looking at paying somewhere in the £18,500 to £25,000 bracket for this little Mazda, which slots it into the Japanese brand's line-up very neatly. You'd need a premium of about £4,000 to upgrade from a Mazda2 supermini to a directly comparable version of this CX-3. And CX-3 money pitches this car in about £4,000 below the kind of cash you'd have to find for the company's larger CX-5 Crossover model. At least the CX-3 buying proposition is fairly simple, with the range based around two key engines. Mazda reckons that over 60% of sales will be accounted for by a 2.0-litre SKYACTIVE-G petrol unit that almost all buyers will order with 120PS - though it can also put out 150PS in flagship guise. Alternatively, there's the slightly less powerful 105PS 1.5-litre SKYACTIVE-D diesel variant that sells at a model-for-model premium of around £1,400 over its green pump-fuelled counterpart. In both cases, the option of all-wheel drive is limited to the most expensive version. If you want an automatic gearbox and need it mated to diesel power, you'll have to stretch to the top 4x4 variant. In the petrol CX-3 line-up though, there's an auto transmission option available across the range for a premium of £1,200.

Could I Live With One?

If you're shopping in this segment, I think the CX-3 ought to be prominently on your list of cars to try. It's one of the more expensive models in the category, but Mazda's SKYACTIV cleverness has kept this SUV acceptably efficient and agile, plus you get plenty of kit for your cash. A small Crossover needs to be more than just dynamic, frugal and well equipped though, with stylish cleverness an equally important attribute. This one seems to stack up well here too, with pleasing looks, cutting edge safety electronics and the kind of interior infotainment cleverness you'd normally find only on a much more expensive car of this kind.

Mazda CX-3

Mazda CX-3

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