Based on the Mazda 2 supermini, the Mazda CX-3 builds on the success of its larger CX-5 sibling buy shoehorning into this city sized SUV
Despite the larger SUV appearance of the Mazda CX-3, it feels and drives much like the hatchback on which it is based meaning it’s fun and engaging, as well as being more practical. There is a choice of one petrol and one diesel engine. The 2.0 SKYACTIV-G packs 120bhp and is available with a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. The 1.5 SKYACTIV-D with 105bhp is the economical option but still packs a decent punch and is available with the 6-speed manual only. This is a good thing as the manual suits the CX-3’s setup and is more enjoyable.
All CX-3 models are two-wheel-drive. It benefits from Skyactiv technology too meaning it’s lighter than ever. Being a Small SUV, you would think it would lose some of that Mazda driving flair, but it doesn’t. The CX-3 is small and compact, its steering is light but direct and precise. Both engine options pack a good punch while the short 6-speed manual lends to the overall sporty and fun drive. It’s agile and rigid so it has an impressive turn of pace in the bends.
The CX-3 is available in three specifications as standard. These are SE, Executive and Executive SE. Standard specification is really impressive with items like air conditioning, start/stop tech, keyless entry and a multi-function steering wheel. If you prefer a few additional creature comforts like a leather steering wheel and heated seats, the Executive SE is the model for you. In terms of ride quality, the CX-3 feels bumpier at slower speeds while it absorbs lumps and bumps in its stride at higher speeds.
Inside the CX-3 pretty much carries over a carbon copy of the stylish and eye-catching dashboard in the Mazda 2. It is finished with leather stitched and carbon fibre style materials topped off a by an elevated 7 inch touch screen that sits neatly at the top of the centre console. It is a beautifully designed interior with comfortable seats that create quite a hatchback rather than SUV driving position. All of the switchgear has a crisp and robust feel that translate into a real upmarket feel.
The Mazda CX-3 scored 4/5 stars in Euro NCAP crash testing which is more or less in line with its competitors. It is a very safe car and comes with a host of safety tech as standard including six airbags, electronic stability control, hill hold assist and an emergency stop signal. Higher trim levels do offer additional safety items like lane departure warning and an autonomous emergency braking system.
As the CX-3 is a compact SUV based on the Mazda 2 supermini, you are compromised a little in terms of space within the cabin. In the front, you feel quite close to the dashboard while rear leg space is ok. Overall it is larger than its closest rival the Nissan Juke with good storage capacity in the cabin thanks to large door pockets, a decent glovebox and a cubby underneath the centre armrest. Boot space is good at 350 litres and the rear seats can be folded forward to create a total of 1260 litres.