Small SUVs are all the rage at present and Mazda’s stylish new CX-3 is sitting high on the popularity list. Interestingly, both 2WD (front drive) and 4WD CX-3s are coming to us downunder. Mazda Australia feels some owners will want the added traction of all-wheel-drive for use in slippery conditions, such as in snowfields. Perhaps even in gentle off-road running when exploring forestry trails and the like.

Two familiar Mazda model names, Neo and Maxx, are used for the CX-3, but are joined by two new ones; the upper-middle CX-3 sTouring and Akari.

Prices start at an impressively low $19,990 (plus on-roads) for the CX-3 Neo 2WD petrol manual and go up to $37,690 for the topline Akari with AWD diesel with auto.

The Mazda Kodo design theme has been around for some time and has worked extremely well globally from a sales point of view. So it comes as no surprise that the CX-3 follows its bigger and smaller brothers in its shape. The grille works very well, the body height is just right and has a neat profile, the rear has a semi-sleek look that, like many in this class, takes away some usability for long tall loads.

Becoming increasingly familiar to us is the new Mazda compact instrument layout. It has a large central dial with smaller rectangular displays on either side of it. It’s neat and stylish but it can be difficult to see the smaller displays at times.


A somewhat basic head-up display is fitted to the upper CX-3 models. While it works reasonably well, it’s not as good as the systems being used by most other makers. However, the Mazda readout doesn’t disappear as soon as you put on polarising sunglasses – big plus from me.

Our sTouring used a 7.0-inch colour screen to show satellite navigation, voice activation, read-out text messages, Bluetooth, and internet connectivity. The navigation system uses data from SD cards and can display the current location on a map, or display routes to take to a destination. Via a smartphone you can use internet for content.

The connectivity system also enables the use of Mazda apps. The Fuel Economy Monitor (FCM) shows if you’re driving in an eco-friendly manner. Maintenance allows Drivers to check when their next oil change is due.

Power comes from either a petrol or diesel engine. The petrol is relatively conventional in displacing 2.0 litres, the turbo-diesel is interesting in that its capacity is just 1.5 litres.

Power outputs are 109 kW and 77 kW respectively. The diesel has an impressive 270 Nm between 1600 and 2500 revs. Petrol grunt peaks at 192 Nm at 2800 revs.


Six-speed manual or automatic transmissions are offered, but the manual only comes with the front-wheel-drive petrol-engine combination.

Our road test Mazda CX-3 was the diesel sTouring AWD with automatic transmission.

Mazda CX-3 has a five-star safety rating from ANCAP. It has ABS brakes, emergency brake assist, smart city brake support, emergency stop signal, traction control, dynamic stability Control, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, advanced blind spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, reversing camera; either as standard or options.

Interestingly, most buyers in this class aren’t actually looking for an SUV, but rather want a tall hatch, that’s almost a station wagon. That body shape not only gives more headroom and luggage space than a hatchback of the size, but also provides easier entry and exit to the seats.

Mazda’s CX-3 is just right in size, providing easier entry and exit to the seats. Adults can be carried in the back seats, but children make more sense.

Luggage space is good for a car of this size and the two-level-floor option is clever. The boot is easy to load and has a decent shape.

Mazda CX-3 is particularly quiet and smooth on good surfaces, especially on motorways. On typical Aussie backroads it provides comfort that’s not always common in small SUVs.

The little turbo-diesel is not keen on getting off the line in a hurry, nor in accelerating suddenly to overtake, or simply to get out of a side street into the traffic. Once the diesel is operating ‘on song’ it’s much better and the strong torque and quick action automatic make for easy hillclimbing and safe overtaking. Try for yourself during your pre-purchase road test, and see how well you can adapt your driving to suit the car’s characteristics.

Fuel consumption is impressively low. On motorways we had no trouble getting it under five litres per hundred kilometres. Around town it typically sat in the five to seven litres per hundred range. Hammer it and diesel use will climb significantly, but who drives like that in this type of vehicle?

Sales of SUVs are increasing at a huge rate, not just in Australia but worldwide. Mazda’s new CX-3 is an excellent example of this new breed and is already becoming a common sight on Australian roads.

Surprisingly only about five per cent of buyers have opted for the turbo-diesel in sales to date. Having just tested it we feel the oil burner is worth adding to your short list.

Neo 2.0-litre petrol FWD: $19,990 (manual), $21,990 (automatic)
Maxx 2.0-litre petrol FWD: $22,390 (manual), $24,390 (automatic)
Maxx 2.0-litre petrol AWD: $26,390 (automatic)
Maxx 1.5-litre diesel FWD: $26,790 (automatic)
s Touring 2.0-litre petrol FWD: $26,990 (manual), $28,990 (automatic)
s Touring 2.0-litre petrol AWD: $30,990 (automatic)
s Touring 1.5-litre diesel AWD: $33,390 (automatic)
Akari 2.0-litre petrol FWD: $31,290 (manual), $33,290 (automatic)
Akari 2.0-litre petrol AWD: $35,290 (automatic)
Akari 1.5-litre diesel AWD: $37,690 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Mazda dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Mazda CX-3 s Touring 1.5-litre diesel five-door wagon)

Capacity: 1.499 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 77 kW @ 4000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 270 Nm @ 1600 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.1 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 134 g/km

Six-speed automatic

Length: 4275 mm
Wheelbase: 2570 mm
Width: 1765 mm
Height: 1550 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1356 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 44 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Three years / Unlimited km

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