Compact crossover looks great and drives well
- Sharp styling
- Enjoyable to drive
- Generous equipment list
- Interesting interior
- Cramped rear seats
- Small boot on higher-spec models
- Rear visibility restricted
- Expensive to buy
The popularity of the compact crossover shows few signs of relenting, which is why the Mazda CX-3 SUV exists among a rapidly-growing number of cars of this style.
The Nissan Juke kicked things off with whacky looks, an elevated driving position and compact car practicalities, such as being easy to manoeuvre in town. Since the Juke’s launch a wide array of rivals have popped up, the CX-3 being one of the most attractive.
However, with new competition in the form of the Kia Stonic, Hyundai Kona and refreshed Renault Captur, not to mention the Peugeot 2008 and Vauxhall Crossland X, it doesn’t have it all sewn up just yet.
Mazda CX-3 petrol and diesel engines
Mazda has continued its SkyActiv programme of lightness and efficiency with the CX-3 and, for petrol engines at least, has shied away from turbocharged downsizing, instead believing larger, naturally-aspirated motors are the way to go.
With 120hp, the entry-level 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G petrol unit is fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with a six-speed automatic optionally available, sending power to the front wheels. Economy and CO2 emissions are rated at 47.9mpg and 137g/km for the manual, 48.7mpg and 136g/km for the automatic.
Choose the CX-3 in Sport Nav trim and you can also order it with four-wheel drive and a more powerful version of the 2.0-litre petrol motor. Power jumps to 150hp, but efficiency figures for the manual-only edition are worse at 44.1mpg and 150g/km.
Cheaper running costs come courtesy of the 1.5-litre SkyActiv-D turbocharged diesel, producing just 105hp, although at 270Nm, peak torque is 66Nm higher than the petrol offerings. Manual versions serve up 70.6mpg and just 105g/km of CO2, while four-wheel drive brings it down to 60.1mpg and CO2 up to 123g/km.
An automatic gearbox is available with four-wheel drive, returning up to 54.3mpg and 136g/km of CO2. Again, four-wheel drive models are only available in range-topping Sport Nav trim.
Mazda CX-3 trim level choices
The familiar Mazda trim hierarchy of SE Nav, SE-L Nav and Sport Nav are employed on the CX-3, as well as a range-topping GT Sport trim that is available in limited numbers.
Equipment levels are generous with all CX-3 models getting alloy wheels, sat-nav, air conditioning, electric windows, DAB radio, Bluetooth, cruise control, keyless ignition and a 7.0-inch colour multimedia screen as standard.
Sport Nav upgrades the 16-inch alloy wheels to 18-inchers, plus the interior is spruced up with half leatherette sports seats. Adaptive LED headlights, a Bose stereo, reversing camera, keyless entry and a head-up display complete the picture.
Prices do start higher than many of its competitors, but the CX-3 is well-equipped and a pleasure to drive with a robust cabin.
The Parkers Verdict
The Mazda CX-3 SUV was one of the later entries to the compact crossover class, but it’s a credible option with sharp styling, an interesting and well equipped interior, plus it’s one of the best to drive.
It’s by no means the most practical, nor the cheapest, but it should be on your list as it’ll satisfy most customers’ needs without fuss, and there are plenty of engine, gearbox and trim options to pick from.
Read the rest of the Parkers Mazda CX-3 review to find out if it’s worth the premium over its competitors.
What owners say about this car
Very enjoyable car to drive. The only drawbacks are the reasonably poor rear visibility and slightly cramped in the... Read owner review
The car drives well when out of the dealership, first ever Mazda and sadly will be my last. Just got... Read owner review
GOOD POINTS. A handsome looking car with excellent performance from the 2 litre petrol engine driving through a PROPER automatic... Read owner review