Driven: Mazda CX-3

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I recently reviewed the latest small car offering from Mazda UK in the guise of the Mazda 2 which impressed me greatly with just how far the brand has come in quality and style in recent years and thus on delivery of the all new Mazda CX-3 I was rather excited.

With incredibly sharp styling and extra ground clearance the Mazda CX-3 is a very sexy car and will appeal to a vast array of people and indeed is one of the nicest looking crossovers available compared to the likes of the Mini Countryman and Nissan Juke in my own opinion.

As with all the Mazda range, high specification comes as standard now with a huge amount of quality throughout the car and this, combined with their SkyActiv technology which includes keeping the cars light in weight as well as increased engine efficiency, makes the Mazda CX-3 an attractive package.

Mazda have kept the engine choices slim on the CX-3 with just two engines available, firstly a 1.5L turbocharged 105bhp Diesel engine can be chosen with a two wheel drive manual option. This same engine can also be chosen in four wheel drive with either an automatic or manual gear box.

The Petrol offering is a 2.0L and comes with two outputs; 120bhp two wheel drive which is available with an automatic or manual gearbox however this power jumps to 150bhp when four wheel drive and on this there is only the option of a manual gear box.

Not all crossovers offer a four wheel drive option and with the Mazda CX-3 this drive train is only available on the top spec “Sport Nav” model which in turn is the model we tested, however it was equipped with the 120bhp petrol engine, two wheel drive and manual gear box.

The 120bhp petrol engine was a great unit returning late 30’s mpg on my mostly town driving and accompanied by the low gearing it meant for little effort around town and there was plenty of low down grunt without the need to stress the engine much. Once on the open road there was more than enough go-go when revved, to pass slow traffic safely and with ease.

Handling wise the CX-3 is fantastic, firm enough with the 18” wheels on the test car but not back breaking and with minimal body roll it absorbed fast meandering roads without even thinking and it definitely rewarded a slightly spirited drive which was a shock for a crossover.

Before I take you inside the Mazda CX-3, I must commend Mazda’s designers yet again on pulling off such an attractive car, sharp lines front and rear contrast well against the flowing arches and window line and the bonnet, LED headlights and grill appear to come out into a point creating a flat front when looking at the side profile which is paramount of the design throughout the Mazda range and rightly so as its looks great.

So yes, inside and the boot is better than some in the category however for a young family or active couple it will likely prove too small with a squeeze required for a buggy and a week’s shopping. The interior of this Sport Nav model is glorious with a half stone leather trim accentuated with red piping and stitching.

Even the door cards and dash board have seen red trim and red stitching to complete the luxury feel throughout the cabin with the front seats being heated (very well too I must add) and red trim around the circular air vents, it really is a nice place to be.

The seats are comfortable with plenty of bolster support, being a crossover it would be a little cramped inside with four adults but there is the Mazda CX-5 for those who need huge space for long journeys. The infotainment screen is placed in the middle of the dash and is basically controlled partly via the steering wheel whilst there is a dial wheel behind the gear stick for the complex operations that in real life are very easy indeed due to the system being incredibly user friendly.

With reverse camera, sat nav, bluetooth and DAB Radio the sound quality from the test car was absolutely sublime due to the 7 Speaker Bose Audio that comes in the sport nav model. As a real lover of music rather than TV or other such mind numbing things modern day society has to offer, I do appreciate amazing audio quality and Mazda have done well in choosing Bose for this.

A quirky feature of the CX-3 is the motorised head up display which, when on starting the car via the keyless push button, raises from the dash between the steering wheel and the windscreen and offers a very easily viewed speed readout and surprisingly when using the sat nav it integrates to give you the directions without eye distraction from the road.

With a 3yr/60k mile warranty, road tax for the 120bhp petrol engine at just £130/annum and pricing in around the £20k mark (give or take a couple of grand each way for different specs) this little crossover is certainly one to consider if sheer quality and huge spec is what your after in a car.


About Author

Graham is a professional photographer and motoring writer with over 15 varied years of coverage from manufacturer press launches to international motorsport and rally events throughout the world. Graham is a full member of the Guild of Motoring Writers. See more at

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