Mazda CX-3 (2015-present)

The Mazda CX-3 is a fun-to-drive and reliable small SUV that’s well equipped but a little cramped

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Distinctive design
Agility in corners makes it fun to drive
Well-made and reliable

Weaknesses 

Fuel economy disappointing in normal driving
Useful safety features only on more expensive models
Cramped rear seats and small boot

The Mazda CX-3 offers many of the virtues of a supermini (compact dimensions, low running costs and practicality) in a tall, rugged-looking shape, making it a mini sport-utility vehicle (SUV). These cars are growing in popularity, with new models arriving regularly, including the Audi Q2, Vauxhall Mokka X and Renault Captur.

Like most new Mazdas these days, it’s really good to drive with grippy and safe handling, quick steering and good body control. The ride is a little firm at low speeds but softens up the faster you go. There’s a choice of two and four-wheel drive versions but the former is cheaper to buy and run, and enough for most needs.

Of the petrol and diesel engines on offer  most buyers are likely to choose the diesel, which is frugal, punchy, and generally smooth and quiet. But it is worth considering the petrol engine, which has clever fuel-saving technology. This, and the CX-3’s light weight, means economy is respectable, at least on paper. Performance is stronger than the diesel.

The CX-3’s cabin is easy to get in and out of, and visibility is excellent. There are ample storage cubbies in the front but few such practical touches in the rear, which feels a little cramped and is tight on headroom. The 350-litre boot is well-shaped, and larger than the Juke’s and Ford EcoSport’s although smaller than rivals including the Captur and Q2.

The cabin is stylish looking, and fit and finish is good. Standard equipment is impressive, too, with all versions having air-con, cruise control and a digital radio. There are five trim levels, so you won’t be short of choice. The highest has a head-up display, projecting the car's speed and sat-nav directions onto the windscreen, in the driver's line of sight.

Mazda is known for making reliable cars. Although the CX-3 was awarded only four out of five stars by Euro NCAP for safety it packs a lot of kit as standard although you need to go to higher-spec models for automatic emergency braking.

Last Updated 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 - 15:45