Mazda CX-3 1.5 diesel Sport Nav compact SUV review
Our Rating

4.5/5

Mazda CX-3 1.5 diesel Sport Nav compact SUV review

Mazda’s CX-3 has got style in spades, but can it offer the same engaging drive as the rest of the Mazda fleet?

Style and fun rolled into one

Introduction

Mazda has managed to inject its trademark driving pleasure into its superminis, hatchbacks, saloons and SUVs. But what about its compact crossover?

It’s no secret that compact crossovers, as popular as they are, aren’t all that endearing to drive, with the usual style over substance formula coming into play.

The CX-3 has style, there’s no doubt about that, but whether it can infuse its driving pleasure with the compact crossover platform is another matter. Being based on the Mazda2 supermini, however, a car that is entertaining to drive, should give the CX-3 a running start against competition like the Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008 and Skoda Yeti.

Mazda has been biding its time releasing the CX-3, but has it used that time to learn how it can top the crossovers currently on sale?

Performance

The 2.0-litre petrols on offer in the CX-3 offer great levels of fun and performance, with the 1.5-litre diesel being reserved for more sensible driving and better fuel economy.

But that’s not to say the diesel is sluggish. Although it may only have 104bhp, the 1.5-litre diesel gets from 0-62mph in just 10.1 seconds and has 270Nm of pulling power. The diesel does feel more at home at higher speeds, with its relatively short first gear making driving at lower speeds a little testing.

Going for the slick six-speed manual gearbox however, will let you feel through your way through the rev range with ease and eliminate some of the diesels tiring nature.

Ride and Handling

Although the CX-3 clearly feels like a Mazda, it is slightly more relaxed and domesticated when compared to the likes of the Mazda3 hatchback.

The CX-3 offers the usual Mazda traits, with light yet sharp steering, a brilliant driving position and a suspension that is slightly on the firm side, but leaves the car well-planted in the corners, without being uncomfortable. Pick up speed on a country road and you can have a lot of fun, certainly more than any other crossovers currently on sale.

Although the CX-3 clearly feels like a Mazda, it is slightly more relaxed and domesticated when compared to the likes of the Mazda3 hatchback, a purposeful act by Mazda to appease those who may not necessarily be after something sporty. This is Mazda’s way of giving you the best of both worlds.

Mazda tailors for those after off-roading as well, with a 4WD option, although we would suggest sticking with 2WD – it suits the car much better.

Did you know?

There is a CX-3 Racing Concept which features a sportier body kit, air intakes and an adaptive suspension.

Interior and Equipment

The CX-3’s interior has a simplified layout with the majority of the functions housed within a seven-inch touchscreen – which comes as standard. This screen comes accompanied with an incredibly easy-to-use toggle on the centre console, allowing you to seamlessly navigate functions on the screen.

The Sport Nav trim is rather tech heavy, with the likes of sat-nav, heated seats, reversing camera, seven-speaker Bose sound system and a futuristic HUD display. Our model also came with some red leather inserts dotted around the cabin, which helps give the interior’s rather dark colour scheme a bit of personality.

Space in the rear is as you might expect from a supermini-derived SUV, with decent leg and head room, but not enough to keep rear passengers comfortable on a long road trip. The narrow rear windows can be a little claustrophobic as well.  

The Sport Nav’s Bose sound system eats into boot space unfortunately due to the subwoofer, reducing its 350-litre size to under 300 litres. That’s still a very usable size, but those after a practical family car can find more space and flexibility in the likes of the Skoda Yeti. Still, the seats fold nice and flat to accommodate longer objects.

Cost

The price tag is the biggest deal with the CX-3, because with a starting price of £17,500, it is around £3,500 more expensive than many of its key competitors.

Fuel economy and CO2 figures are strong in the 1.5-litre diesel. It claims an average of 70.6mpg, which is totally achievable, especially if you rack up a fair few motorway miles. Driving exclusively around town we were getting 50mpg and above. CO2 is quoted at 105g/km.

The price tag is the biggest deal with the CX-3, because with a starting price of £17,500, it is around £3,500 more expensive than many of its key competitors. If you go for a more lavish trim and some optional extras like our press car, you can end up paying around £22,500.

Our Verdict

The CX-3 offers the best driving dynamics in the compact crossover segment – fact. It’s arguably the most stylish crossover on sale as well.

Mazda was late to the compact crossover party with the CX-3, but the late arrival has allowed it to hone its skills and jump to the top of the stack.

Its high list price may put some people off, but if you are after something luxurious, fun to drive and different to obvious choices like the Nissan Juke, then the CX-3 is brilliant.

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