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What is a Mazda CX-3?

What is the Mazda CX-3?

The Mazda CX-3 is a member of one of the UK’s most popular market segments – the compact crossover SUV market. These cars have become hugely popular, and as a result cars like the CX-3 have a lot to do in order to stand out from the hordes of accomplished 4x4-styled models on sale.

The CX-3 aims to compete in a few main areas. The first buyers will notice is the design – it’s a particularly attractive small crossover, effortlessly blending rugged styling cues with Mazda’s ‘Kodo’ design language. It’s compact, too, as it’s based on the Mazda 2 supermini.

Better yet, the CX-3 drives beautifully – it really does feel as though Mazda’s transferred the DNA of its MX-5 sports car onto a bulkier SUV body.

Introduced in 2015 but facelifted in 2018, the CX-3 has plenty of competition. Key rivals include the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008, Volkswagen T-Cross, Kia Stonic and Fiat 500X – to name just a few. 

At a glance 2019 Mazda CX-3 specs

  • Top speed: 114-124mph
  • 0-62mph: 8.8-9.9 seconds
  • Fuel economy: 38.2-54.3mpg
  • Emissions: 114-160g/km CO2
  • Boot space: 350-1,260 litres

Which versions of the Mazda CX-3 are available?

The Mazda CX-3 comes in just the one five-door bodystyle, as is typical for this class of car.

Its engine range is a little unusual, however, as Mazda is one of very few carmakers that hasn’t turned to turbocharging to improve the efficiency of its petrol engines. Instead it uses what it calls Skyactiv technology to boost performance and fuel economy.

In addition, only a single version of the CX-3 is currently available with a diesel engine – the Sport Nav+; every other trim level is petrol only.

Living with a Mazda CX-3

Standard equipment is exceptionally generous on this car, however, with every model fitted with sat-nav, DAB digital radio, air-conditioning, Bluetooth, cruise control and keyless entry.

Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive Mazda CX-3s are available, and you can choose between a six-speed manual gearbox and a six-speed automatic.

Mazda CX-3 styling and engineering

To our eyes, the CX-3 is an attractive example of the small crossover – albeit one that is perhaps a little chubby cheeked from some angles.

The dashboard is very similar to that of the Mazda MX-5 sports car, which means it’s well-made and uncluttered to the point of looking almost sparse.

Its infotainment system is simple to operate via the touchscreen or the BMW iDrive-style rotary controller on the centre console; it may not look very sophisticated versus some rival systems, but it’s highly functional and easy to get to grips with.

Being based on the same platform as the Mazda 2 supermini, the CX-3 isn’t the most spacious crossover inside, however. Legroom in the back is tight, for example, and the rear windows are rather small, conspiring to make the rear of the car feel cramped.

The boot is not large – especially on models with the Bose stereo fitted, as a big bass speaker eats into luggage capacity.

Is the Mazda CX-3 good to drive?

Largely, yes – though the lack of turbocharging means the petrol engines don’t have the low down muscle of some rival models.

In compensation, throttle response is sharp and they enjoy being worked hard, something the delightful manual gearbox makes good fun.

What’s more, the CX-3’s handling and road holding are both very impressive, thanks to some well-judged suspension and clever electronics called G-Vectoring Control.

Much of the time, it’s just like driving a hatchback with a higher seating position – praise indeed for an SUV-style model.

How much does the Mazda CX-3 cost?

With an enormous amount of standard equipment on every model, the CX-3 represents excellent value at list prices.

Mazda is also typically very competitive when it comes to car finance, so whichever way you plan to purchase your next car, the CX-3 is likely to represent a good deal.

Check out our comprehensive owner’s reviews to find out what other Mazda CX-3 drivers think of the car.

Mazda CX-3 Model History

Current Mazda CX-3 model History

June 2015 – New Mazda CX-3 goes on sale in the UK from £17,595 kicking off with SE trim, partnered with a 2.0-litre 120hp petrol engine. Other trims available include SE Nav, SE-L and SE-L Nav, plus range-topping Sport Nav. A 150hp 2.0-litre petrol is also available, along with a sole 1.5-litre turbodiesel with 105hp. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available, and there’s an option of front- or four-wheel drive on some models.
July 2017 – CX-3 receives minor updates, with SE and SE-L dropped from the range in favour of Nav models, while GT Sport is added to the top of the range, available exclusively with the 2.0-litre 120hp petrol. Tweaks inside include a new steering wheel and head-up display, with more equipment including a heated steering wheel and electric seats on top-spec models. Under the skin, tweaks have been made to the suspension and damping, as well as the addition of G-Vectoring Control and more sound insulation.
August 2018 - Another mild update, the CX-3 receives a tweaked front grille and some interior trim changes. GT Sport is no longer available, while existing trim level names now have a '+' at the end of all of them to denote they are compliant with new WLTP emissions tests. The 1.5-litre diesel is dropped in favour of a new 1.8-litre diesel unit.

There are no previous CX-3 models – this is the first time Mazda has built a small SUV.

Fancy a CX-3? Find out what drivers think of them with our owners’ reviews and find examples for sale on the used market.