Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2

The Parkers verdictShould you buy a Mazda CX-3?

The Mazda CX-3 is well-worth buying, and we are happy to recommend it. It was one of the later entries to the compact crossover class. Holding off to see which traits buyers value most seems to have given the Japanese brand a leg-up, and the CX-3 is one of the best of the breed, despite being a few years old now.

One of Mazda’s trademarks – the use of large-capacity, naturally-aspirated engines – means that the CX-3 is rather a different beast to drive than its main rivals with compact turbocharged units. Keen drivers will thoroughly enjoy working the slick six-speed manual gearbox as they chase revs in order to extract the best from the powertrain, though this does mean it’s not as relaxing to drive as some rivals.

It’s genuinely excellent when the road gets twisty, though. Mazda’s injected some of the spirit of the MX-5 into the boxy CX-3, and it pays off, with great grip, compelling steering and a composed chassis. It still rides well, too, proving that good handling and a comfortable suspension setup don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

It’s well equipped, but pricey – Mazda’s positioned the CX-3 near the top of the non-premium sector, and rivals such as the Peugeot 2008 and Skoda Kamiq undercut it quite significantly. The CX-3 isn’t the most practical crossover around. It’s spacious enough for most purposes, but six-footers will struggle for space in the rear and the boot will be pretty stuffed if you try for a family camping trip.

Others may also take issue with the interior trim and features, which are feeling a little outdated especially compared with the latest Mazda 3. Everything’s well positioned, but some items such as the infotainment screen do feel somewhat low-rent.

None of these items should put you off considering the Mazda CX-3, though. It’s an impressive small crossover and proves that even relatively low-volume manufacturers like Mazda can produce very competitive products.