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


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


Fuel economy disappointing in normal driving
Petrol engines lack performance
Cramped rear seats and small boot
Mazda CX-3 prices from £11,000   Finance from £150 per month

Once upon a time, there was the Mazda CX-3. You could call it the Goldilocks of cars: designed so it’s not too long that parking is tough, and not too short that it’s cramped inside.

It’s not too low to restrict visibility and not too tall that it wobbles in corners. In Mazda’s eyes, you could live happily ever after with the CX-3.

The chances are that many buyers will do so because the Mazda does deliver on much of what it promises - even if it’s not a fairy tale from cover to cover.

Underneath its angular styling are the mechanical parts from the small Mazda 2. This makes the CX-3 a crossover, which is meant to combine the nimble, stable and economical performance of the smaller car, with the higher driving position and extra space of a taller off-road car.

It works well too: the CX-3 is one of the most car-like crossovers on the market. Its extra height isn’t obvious in corners, where the Mazda changes direction with agility, while remaining stable and flat. As well as making the ride more comfortable for passengers, it’s also quite fun to drive. There’s plenty of power from the engines too.

Making tall cars stable often means that they struggle on bumpy roads, but the Mazda soaks up the impact of potholes and speed bumps to provide a smooth ride.

Fuel economy is reasonably good - if you choose the right diesel or petrol engines, but you will need to put up with more wind and tyre noise than most other crossovers, particularly at motorway speeds.

The Mazda CX-3’s "Goldilocks" size makes it larger than small crossovers, such as the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Hyundai Kona and Ford EcoSport, but the extra space won’t be enough if you’re regularly carrying teenagers or adults.

There’s just not enough legroom or headroom for taller passengers to get comfortable on long journeys, and it’s the main area where the CX-3 shows its limitations against larger crossover cars, such as the Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga and Skoda Karoq, which also have larger boots (There are 350 litres in the CX-3, compared with 430 to 530 litres for most family crossovers).

It’s not that the Mazda is much cheaper either. New car prices start at just under £19,000 - £1,000 less than the Qashqai. Strong demand on the used market means that the CX-3 holds onto its value and 2016 cars still cost from £12,969on BuyaCar. This does have its benefits when it comes to finance, though. Monthly prices for 2016 models start at £171, which is competitive for a crossover of its age.

Prices are similar to the Honda HR-V and Volkswagen T-Roc, which have similar dimensions to the CX-3, but are less cramped in the back. Many families will find it hard to overlook the much cheaper Peugeot 2008 or the even-better Citroen C3 Aircross, which provides more space, at a cheaper price, even though these are less nimble to drive than the CX-3.

The Mazda does feel like a premium car thanks to a high level of fit and finish inside. It was updated in August 2018 with better noise insulation and improved seats, which are more comfortable than the firm versions fitted to earlier models, which could be uncomfortable on long journeys. The dial that controls the dashboard touchscreen was also moved forward, making it easier to use.

Although all models have a quality feel, the technology feels outdated when compared with the glossy touchscreen display of cars such as the Skoda Karoq and Volkswagen T-Roc. Standard equipment is generous, though, with all versions having sat-nav, air-conditioning, cruise control and a digital radio. At the top of the range, Sport Nav+ models come with a head-up display.

Updated cars also have the option of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for easier control of phone apps via the screen or with voice commands. This technology has to be installed at a dealership.

An earlier revision, in August 2017, added a technology called G-Vectoring Control to the CX-3, which adjusts the power sent to the wheels in bends. It’s meant to make cornering more precise, but the difference is barely noticeable.

Four wheel drive is available as an option, providing more grip when accelerating in slippery conditions. It’s also the only car of its size that you can specify with a petrol engine, four-wheel drive and manual gearbox. So if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve found your car.

Two sets of Isofix mounts in the back for child seats are fairly standard for a family car and the four stars out of five awarded for safety after independent testing by Euro NCAP are respectable, if not quite at the five-star level of the Honda HR-V and Audi Q2.


Last Updated 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - 15:45

Key facts 

3 years / 60,000 miles
Boot size: 
350 litres
£205 to £515 in first year, £140 thereafter

Best Mazda CX-3 for... 

Mazda CX-3 Skyactiv-D 1.8
The only diesel option in the CX-3 range is economical (64.2mpg) and emits low levels of CO2 (114g/km), and also incorporates the latest cleaner diesel technology.
Mazda CX-3 Skyactiv-G 2.0 121PS
The lower-powered petrol car is the most popular choice among buyers, offering reasonable fuel economy and enough performance for families.
Mazda CX-3 Skyactiv-G 2.0 150PS
Although not exactly sporty, the most powerful petrol engine will go from 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds

Mazda CX-3 History 

  • June 2015: Mazda CX-3 goes on sale in UK.
  • April 2017: Mazda introduces improved pedestrian collision avoidance tech and adds GT-Sport limited edition trim.
  • September 2018 Revised CX-3 with new 1.8-litre diesel alongside updates to exterior and interior, technology and safety features.
  • October 2018 Mazda CX-3 Sport Black+ special edition includes a black leather interior and metallic paint.

Understanding Mazda CX-3 car names 

  • CX-3
  • Engine
    Skyactiv 2.0 121PS
  • Trim
    SE-L Nav +
  • Gearbox
  • Engine
    All the engines are named Skyactiv, with the diesel engines having a D after the word. Both petrol engines are 2.0-litre units, with 121PS and 150PS power rating, while the diesel is a 1.8-litre (1.5 before the 2018 revisions) producing 115PS.
  • Trim
    There are just three trim levels – SE Nav +, SE-L Nav + and Sport Nav + – with the amount of equipment included increasing as the price increases.
  • Gearbox
    All engines are available with six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearboxes, while the more powerful petrol unit is also only available with all-wheel drive.

Mazda CX-3 Engines 

Skyactiv 2.0 121PS, Skyactiv 2.0 150PS, Skyactiv-D 1.8 115PS

There are just three engine options for buyers to choose from, two of which are petrol, along with a single diesel variant.

The two petrol options are both 2.0-litre Skyactiv engines, offering two power outputs. The base 121PS version is available with front-wheel drive and returns an official fuel consumption figure of 46.3mpg (based on the new WLTP testing regime), with an official CO2 emissions figure of 141g/km (140g/km if mated to an automatic gearbox). We tested this engine and found it perfectly acceptable in urban environments: however, we found that it really lacked power when confronted with a long uphill section of road, lacking the shove to overtake with any confidence. The 0-62mph time of 9 seconds (or 9.9 seconds with an automatic gearbox) seems accurate enough – but not uphill.

With an additional 29PS, the more powerful 150PS engine doesn’t offer a great deal of extra boost: we haven’t tested this engine variant yet, but with a 0-62mph time that is only 0.2 seconds faster than the 121PS car, we’re not expecting a significant performance increase. A larger output and mating it to a four-wheel-drive system reduces the combined fuel consumption figure to 40.3mpg (42.2mpg with an auto ’box) and increases CO2 emissions to 160g/km (152g/km). This engine is only available with the range-topping Sport Nav + trim level.

Mazda replaced the 1.5-litre diesel with a new Skyactiv-D 1.8-litre diesel engine when it revised the model in 2018, which has been developed to meet the very latest Euro 6d-Temp emissions regulations, so it’s one of the latest generation of cleaner diesels. It also feels like a modern diesel, thanks to a refined and quiet character, while the 115PS is a usable amount of power, especially at low revs. Official fuel consumption is an economical 64.2 mpg (57.6mpg with an automatic) and CO2 emissions are 114g/km (129g/km). With many buyers turning against diesel in recent years, this will constitute a minority of CX-3 sales, but it makes a strong argument for being the pick of the engine range, as long as it fulfils a buyer’s needs and ownership profile (i.e. covering 12,000-14,000 miles a year).



Fuel economy


Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed

Skyactiv-G 2.0 121PS






Skyactiv-G 2.0 150PS






Skyactiv-D 1.8 115PS






Mazda CX-3 Trims 

SE Nav +, SE-L Nav +, Sport Nav +

Mazda keeps it simple with three, reasonably well-specified trim levels for the CX-3.

The base SE Nav + features 16-inch alloy wheels, leather steering wheel and gearknob, electronic parking brake, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, air conditioning, electric windows all round, DAB radio, 7-inch colour touchscreen, Bluetooth, satellite navigation, USB inputs, tyre pressure monitoring and hill hold assist.

SE-L Nav + adds LED fog lights, rear parking sensors, automatic lights, privacy glass, heated front seats, climate control air con, rain-sensing wipers, lane departure warning and Mazda’s advanced smart city brake support, which uses a forward-facing camera to detect vehicles and pedestrians ahead, in an attempt to help avoid collisions.

Additional features on the range-topping Sport Nav + include 18-inch alloys, LED headlights and daytime running lights, adaptive front lights, front parking sensors, reversing camera, half-leatherette seat trim, heated steering wheel, keyless entry, colour head-up display, traffic sign recognition and a premium seven-speaker Bose sound system.

Mazda CX-3 Reliability and warranty 

The Mazda CX-3 makes a respectable appearance in the latest Auto Express Driver Power survey, placed 50th out of 75 cars. The company is also placed ninth in the list of most reliable manufacturers.

Mazda’s three-year/60,000-mile warranty is fairly typical for the industry, but can’t compare to those for the Hyundai Kona (five-year, triple-care package) or the Kia Stonic (seven years).

Used Mazda CX-3 

As the CX-3 has been on sale since 2015, there are a number of used examples that are available to buyers.

There are currently 106 Mazda CX-3s available on BuyaCar, with prices ranging from £11,000 to £23,485 for nearly-new models.

Monthly finance payments start from £150 per month.

Older diesels have a 1.5-litre engine, instead of the 1.8 found in newer CX-3s. If your budget stretches to it, it's worth seeking out the newer, larger, cleaner, and more economical 1.8.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can also be retrofitted my Mazda dealers. It should cost around £250, and is a cheap and easy way of bringing a used CX-3 up to date.

Mazda CX-3: latest used car prices

1 year old

2 years old

3 years old

Best for performance
Mazda CX-3 2.0 150PS




Best for families
Mazda CX-3 2.0 121ps




Best for economy
Mazda CX-3 1.8d 115pd