Top Mazda CX-3 Model Picks:
- Most sensible: 2.0 SKYACTIV-G 120 SE Nav
- Most fun: 2.0 SKYACTIV-G 150 Sport Nav AWD
- Don’t bother: 1.5 SKYACTIV-D 105 Sport Nav AWD auto
- Must-have tech: Generous standard equipment means there’s no need to add beyond SE Nav grade.
The compact crossover segment is drawing buyers wanting something more interesting than a supermini, and the Mazda CX-3 is a great example of why this part of the market is so hot. With strong design and excellent handling this is a car for those who, as Auto Trader puts it, “prioritize style and fun above all else.”
Although sharing many components with the Mazda 2 hatchback the CX-3 has much more road presence thanks to its taller stance. The cabin lacks space, especially in the back and boot, but equipment levels are good and a 7-inch touchscreen interface comes as standard. Materials can’t quite match the design, though, with Top Gear warning “interior quality lacks substance.”
Praise is keener for the way the CX-3 drives, sharing the handling precision that characterizes Mazda’s more mainstream offerings. Refinement isn’t brilliant, Auto Express warning the car suffers from “too much tyre roar as well as a bit of wind noise”, but it’s great fun on the right road.
Three engines are available, a 1.5-litre diesel and Mazda’s innovative 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G petrol engine in both 120hp and 150hp states of tune, with both automatic and all-wheel drive versions available higher up the range.
What Car? reckons that the entry-level petrol motor is actually the pick of the family: “it’s quiet when cruising and offers a decent amount of low-down shove, even at higher speeds, despite the lack of a turbocharger.”
Although pricing is higher than obvious rivals, the CX-3 has generous standard equipment and benefits from Mazda’s excellent reliability.
Mazda CX-3 Rivals:
A car that defies categorization, but still delivers a compelling all-round experience. The Yeti is a cross between a crossover and an estate car – it’s bigger and more practical than the CX-3, but not quite as sharp to drive.
Vauxhall Mokka X
Not short on road presence, the Mokka X struggles to deliver an equally convincing driving experience thanks to poor refinement and a lumpy ride. Well equipped for the money.
The 500 hatchback’s crossover sister keeps much of the smaller car’s cute styling but adds an extra dose of practicality. Cheaper versions lack equipment and the driving experience isn’t great.
Bargain pricing means the Tivoli offers plenty of car for the money, but it can’t muster much refinement or handling finesse. On the upside, it’s spacious and practical.
Sign up for the newsletter
Get news, competitions and special offers direct to your inbox
Best review: Carbuyer – Score 4.2/5
Previous models: The current Mazda CX-3 is the first.