Mazda’s compact crossover – the CX-5 – was well received when it was launched a couple years back. Now Mazda is offering the advantages of the CX-5 in a smaller package. Enter the CX-3, writes Ian Strachan.
Despite being smaller than the CX-5, the CX-3 still looks a substantial vehicle. Its design is eye-catching, and interior space is more than adequate for an average-sized family.
Manufacturers have been falling over themselves to turn out cars which defy pigeon-holing in any particular sector, combining the attributes of at least two market sectors. Mazda’s is no exception and the Japanese firm’s compact crossovers combine the performance and handling of a sports car with the stability and size of a compact sports utility.
The CX-3 is a pleasurable vehicle with a tough appearance and a stable ride. It doesn’t have the CX-5’s four-wheel drive option, but still looks the part. The CX-5 won awards for its towing abilities, but this smaller version provides plenty of space for those who don’t want to tow their house around behind them.
The Mazda CX-3 that I tested came a potent 2.0 litre petrol engine delivering brisk, sporty performance with more-than-adequate 120 bhp output. It came in Sport Nav spec level.
The CX-3 uses electronics which combine advanced engine, transmission and chassis technology to improve efficiency and environmental performance.
The CX-3 handles very well, never feeling less than stable. Cornering is sure footed with no body roll, and the suspension set up ensures a comfortable ride. The car is exceptionally well put together and feels solid.
The engine provides decent performance throughout the speed range, delivering power smoothly but with plenty of mid-range pull. It’s helped by a pleasant-to-use six speed manual transmission, with a dashboard reminder to tell you when to change gear.
Fuel consumption is respectable. This Mazda manages a 47.9 mpg in mixed driving.
The interior is well laid out and spacious with plenty of room for five adults. The large 350 litre luggage area can be further improved with the ability to fold the rear seats flat.
Equipment levels are generous. Standard features on this version include smart alloys, a good DAB radio and CD player with MP3 compatibility and iPod connection, a clear navigation system, leather upholstery, heated front seats, keyless entry, rear parking camera, an excellent climate control system, and electric windows all round. You also get automatic cruise control and rain sensing wipers. My car came fitted with a head-up display which is just low enough on the screen to be unobtrusive, and a lane departure warning system which emits a slightly raucous raspberry if you cross the white line.
This is a solid and enjoyable vehicle that doesn’t look out of place on a suburban driveway and at £20,495 won’t break the bank. A good, well-specified vehicle which undercuts many of its rivals without sacrificing quality.