2017 Mazda CX3
90% as good as as the Maxda3 in every way.
Starting without mentioning the loud pink elephant in the corner of the room wouldn’t be nice, or wise, I’ve heard elephants cant get a real move on once they get going. The Mazda 3 is brilliant hatchback and should be a serious consideration for anyone wanting a hatchback that can fit a family and fit a budget. The CX3 is the big cousin, or is it, both shorter and thinner it is only height that the CX3 can claim anything extra. It takes on the role of not quite making the school sports team. Those wanting a slightly higher perch with an easier entry and exit will be happy they went for the CX3, despite this coming at a speed and fuel penalty. It isn’t so much that it is much slower but there is less eagerness to move than the Mazda2 on which it is based and still behind the slightly more expensive Mazda3. Would you notice it day to day? probably not, would you be at the pumps all the time having to constantly fill up, certainly not. In fact for fuel economy, the Mazda is elbowing in for top position on economy for small crossover. The margins are finer and less noticeable than the jump from a hatchback to mid size SUV. The problem is the CX3 never really escapes the hatchback quarters, its roofline is barely taller and it capacity overall slightly less than the Mazda3.
So what if you don’t want a conventional hatchback and you want the small SUV scored solely on it’s own merit. We will let the pink elephant leave and get on with a sole assessment of it.
First off the turn in is very good, Mazda tend to set all their ride slightly firmer than other manufacturers. This usually leads to praise from a handling assessment but negatives from an overall comfort measure. The big advantage with giving the CX3 a little more suspension travel than a hatchback is that it cancels out a lot of the downside. The upside of sharp turn in is dulled, but not so much that it is lost. Comparing this off to the competition the CX3 would take a seat at the top table. Passengers may find the layout slightly awkward if they are larger than average but a young family wouldn’t have a problem and the additional height in the rear cabin and boot mean that anyone keeping for the long term should be able to see the family grow up into the early teen years before a change is necessary.
Power is delivered with the same low grunt torque that has made the sky-active engine so capable, few will buy on a desire for speed but the power reserve deep into the rev range is enough for all but people that simply bought the wrong car. You’ll have no problem in a city with impatient traffic or cruising along a motorway for a family day out.
Actual buttons are sadly in short supply anywhere but the steering wheel though.
The negatives begin and end with a frustration the car has in trying to deliver all things to all people. The rear legroom wont fit four adults in anything near comfort unless you consider a long drive a trip to the local carpark. The driving position is OK, but not memorable.
Overall the car delivers a quality that Mazda have carved out in the market, as reliable as any other Japanese built machine and kept an eye on longevity rather than hear and now gimmicks. If you want to change every two or three years then some competitors will give a better experience, these include the little VW T-Cross which gives a slightly more premium feel but also starts to become boring quickly. Buyers that like to hold onto their vehicle for five years or longer should take a serious look at the CX3. Anyone shopping in the used market should put it on a shortlist as it will likely be competive both in price an equipment to other marques. The mechanicals will likely last until the doors rust off and the interior has walked a stylistic path that promotes clean lines. Actual buttons are sadly in short supply anywhere but the steering wheel though. The exterior is managing its looks to age gracefully, refraining from current trends and giving just enough flair to mark it out in a sea of grey boxes in a car park.
A final word, if a car serves a purpose for you over all else and you want a small crossover, make a list, Mazda CX3, Toyota HR-V and Hyundai Kona.