Car Reviews

2017 Mazda CX-3 SUV Review

Mazda’s CX-3 is a small crossover car that is big on looks and style


Pros: Sharp looks, fun to drive, good specification

Cons: Rear seat room, pricier than rivals

Mazda’s CX-3 is a small crossover car that is big on looks and style, blurring the lines between supermini and SUV. There are plenty of cars to choose from in this space, including the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur, but the CX-3 trumps its rivals when it comes to styling and driving dynamics, while its starting price is more expensive. We spent a week with the new 2.0-litre petrol powered Mazda CX-3 to see if it has what it takes to tempt buyers away from the diesel powered best-sellers in the segment.

What is it like?

The CX-3 is undoubtedly one of the best looking cars in its class, with a sharply-shaped front grille, curvaceous rear windows and twin exhaust pipes at the rear. The CX-3 is based on the same platform as Mazda’s smaller supermini, the Mazda2, but it looks a lot larger thanks to Mazda’s “Kodo” design philosophy. There are nine different colour combinations to choose from and we think this “Soul Red” metallic version is the best of the lot. Base specification CX-3 versions don’t get alloy wheels like our high-end GT specification test car, which enjoys smart 18-inch alloys and LED headlights for a sleek finish.

The Mazda CX-3’s interior has a sporty feel with similar technology to Mazda’s larger players like the Mazda3, along with good quality materials throughout. Front seat passengers will find it easy to get comfortable with plenty of head and leg room on offer, though there is little storage space around the centre console to lay down items like smartphones. Despite its crossover styling, the CX-3 is quite confined in the rear for taller passengers, while boot space at 350 litres is on par with other cars in the class. A seven-inch touchscreen sits in the centre of the dashboard and is easy to use via a rotary dial beside the driver, and our test car has Mazda’s optional heads up display system which is a nice touch.

There are just two engines to choose from in the CX-3 which keeps choice simple; a 105bhp 1.5-litre diesel unit and a larger 120bhp 2.0-litre petrol which we drove. A large 2.0-litre petrol engine seems like an odd match for a small and sensible car like the CX-3, however it’s lively, likes to be revved and returns better economy than you might expect. We averaged 7.0-litres per 100 kilometres in fuel economy at best (circa 40mpg) while annual road tax for this particular car comes in €280. In terms of performance, 0-100km/h takes nine seconds, which is strong and it feels very capable at higher motorway speeds with plenty of power on tap.

The CX-3 is surprisingly fun to drive for a car of its size and grips well through tight turns. This isn’t to the expense of comfort either, as it rolls smoothly on rough surfaces and the cabin is quiet with little wind noise. Mazda offers the CX-3 in both two and four wheel drive versions, and while the four wheel drive system is reassuring to drive in wintry conditions, the two wheel drive version should suffice for most buyers and is more cost-effective from a running cost perspective. Ride quality is a little on the hard side but this can be offset by opting for smaller alloy wheels.

Prices for the new Mazda CX-3 start from €20,995, making it the second most affordable model in Mazda’s range next to the Mazda2 supermini. That price point puts it in similar territory to the Renault Captur and the Nissan Juke, while the level of standard specification is quite strong, with base SE models getting keyless entry, electric folding mirrors, hill start assist, a tyre pressure monitoring system and air conditioning as standard. Higher specification Executive and GT level models are much better equipped and feel more special as a result, while residual values are likely to be stronger on these models in a few years’ time.

Carzone verdict: 3.5/5

The Mazda CX-3 enjoys sharply-sculpted looks, a surprisingly-capable drive and high quality materials inside, all of which being its key strengths over class alternatives like the Nissan Juke. Although the CX-3 is positioned as a compact SUV, it doesn’t offer enough practicality or interior room to be a truly practical family car, and it is better suited to urban commuters as a result. A large petrol engine seems like an odd match for the small and futuristic-looking CX-3, but it certainly worked well during out test and should be considered if it makes sense on paper to the buyer. We’d recommend the higher specification mid-range models for their better equipment and greater resale value in years to come.

Test Car Details:

Model driven: Mazda CX-3

Prices from: €20,995

Price as tested: €26,945

Annual Road Tax: €280

Engine: 1998cc four-cylinder petrol

Power/Torque: 120bhp

Top Speed: 192km/h

0-100km/h: 9.0 seconds

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Body style: Small SUV

Boot Space: 350 litres