Expert Review - Mazda CX-3 Gen 1 (2015-Present)
26 January 2016
The Mazda CX-3 shares many traits with the car on which it is based, the Mazda 2, including an exterior that is eye-catching, and an interior that exudes a premium feel above its class. With admirable handling and an engaging drive, it is marred by a small cabin, firm ride and a price tag that exceeds the competition.
The 2.0 litre SkyActiv-G direct-injection petrol engine provides 154 hp and 204 Nm, is responsive and does well to shift the heft. The six-speed auto is geared more towards eco-driving with its higher ratios, so it may be a little discouraging at first, although flicking it into Sport mode does help.
Ride & Handling
Carrying on the tradition of other recent Mazda vehicles, the CX-3 provides an engaging driving experience that is agile and encouraging. This is accompanied by a firm but forgiving ride, with the dampers doing well to soften the effects of speed bumps and potholes, up to a limit. The electrically-assisted steering is responsive but isn't as direct as one would hope.
Engine noise is barely noticeable in normal operation, although at higher revs, a sporty-sounding exhaust note is audible. Road noise is largely kept out of the cabin, while wind noise is not overly intrusive. The seats are supportive with tall backrests and comfortable to sit on, although lumbar adjustments are not included. The steering wheel is adjustable for reach and rake, so a variety of driving positions are possible to cater to most drivers.
The Mazda CX-3's safety suite certainy won't leave you wanting. DSC electronic stability control, traction control and ABS with EBD and BA are all standard. Airbag count stands at six, and is accompanied by hill launch assist as well. For those with children, the rear seats feature ISOFIX points as well.
The focus on the driver does devoid the CX-3 of some interior space. However, it does feel roomier than in the Mazda 2 with more headroom, and visibility isn't limited. Rear seating is sufficient up to an extent. Boot space is rated at 350 litres, smaller than most of the competition.
You certainly won't feel short-changed with the Mazda CX-3. With LED headlights that feature an adaptive front lighting system, heads-up display, MZD Connect infotainment system, single-zone automatic air-con and leather-suede upholstery and trim, you certainly do get a lot. The only thing lacking is a navigation function for the MZD system, a RM1,270 option.