If the CX-3 were a child, it would likely be called precocious, so full of itself is the new Mazda compact crossover. However, I mean this in the nicest possible way.

The first-ever CX-3 has plenty to say in all its offerings, from the most extensive range in its segment, MZD Connect; including Mazda’s new infotainment system on Maxx, sTouring and Akari, three of its four grades. Entry-level Neo is the odd man out.

Two engines – a 1.5-litre diesel and a 2.0-litre petrol – are on offer. Available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive, CX-3 comes with a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual.

Fuel economy, on all grades, is helped by i-stop, Mazda’s stop / start engine technology, while petrol powered models can be perked up with Drive Selection, which allows a switch to sport mode.

The chief designer says his mission was: “[To produce] a design that appeals to progressive customers who aspire to a trend-setting lifestyle at the cutting-edge of the post-modern age.”

From what I’ve seen of the CX-3 sTouring Safety 2.0-litre petrol all-wheel drive automatic test vehicle, Mazda has come up trumps. It’s a sweet confection topped off with the tempting cherry of a $30,020, plus on-road costs, price tag.


Sharing a platform with the new Mazda2, incorporating the company’s ‘Kodo – Soul of Motion’ styling. This has been used to get proportions right to create the height needed for a crossover vehicle.

This it has done with large 18-inch wheels, giving it a little more ground clearance, the front fenders have been pushed backwards producing the profile of an extended body.

Blacked-out D-pillars add to the sleek appearance and a solid rear end adds a sense of strength and power. The new Soul Red exterior colour added a crowning touch of class to the test car.

Attention to detail is evident, from the positioning of instruments, such as the dash-mounted 7-inch display screen, and controls, including the HMI commander, to be handily placed for the driver, to the use of soft piping on the seat facings.

A high belt-line and contoured door trim cocoon the front seat occupants in a comforting manner fit for even the most testing road conditions, or ragged driving style.


Head-up display sees useful information to the driver projected onto a clear display panel vertically mounted on the meter hood. Vehicle speed, navigation directions and other important driving information, such as that from the advanced safety systems, are also displayed.

Further information relating to how the vehicle is performing is divided between a large dial flanked by a pair of display wings. An analog tachometer in the centre incorporates a digital speedometer in the bottom right corner. The right wing shows the external temperature and fuel status, plus safety indicators.

Information on the 7-inch centrally mounted display screen is accessed via a command control knob handily placed on the centre console.

Voice commands can be used to control audio functions and tap into Bluetooth hands-free phone operation, reception of short text messages, and internet radio such as Aha with access more than 100,000 broadcasts from around the world, including BBC and CNN; Stitcher on-demand, which provides more than 15,000 talk shows, music programs and podcasts; and Pandora, a radio service for subscribers to create up to 100 personalised stations and listen to continuous music, or search for similar songs for automatic playback.

Our test Mazda CX-3 was fitted with a 2.0-litre petrol engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

With maximum power of 109 kW at 6000 rpm and top torque of 192 Nm at 2800 revs fuel consumption is said to be 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres for the automatic, all-wheel drive.

Efforts were made to reduce weight by using lighter pistons, connecting rods and crankshaft, while lower mechanical resistance was achieved with reduced valve spring load and the use of a high-efficiency water pump.

In addition to standard front airbags, Mazda CX-3 is available with curtain airbags protecting front and rear seat occupants in a side impact, as well as side airbags that help protect the chests of front seat occupants.

As well, a full suite of active safety features, such as anti-skid braking, traction control, dynamic stability control and emergency brake assist, the test vehicle was fitted with the optional $1030 Mazda Safety Pack, consisting of advanced blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and smart city brake support.

A 2.0-litre engine is quite large – some would say extravagant – for a compact car these days, so with the revs up and power approaching 110 kW, the CX-3 sTouring skips along nicely, the auto transmission slipping through the ratios as required.

To make the little Mazda more reactive to driver input, Drive Selection allows them to engage Sport mode by pressing a switch on the transmission’s shift gate. The transmission is reset to start out in low gear and torque output is upped when the accelerator pedal is pressed to deliver powerful acceleration with minimum pedal action. Fuel economy is the victim.

Test car petrol consumption was recorded at 9.1 litres per 100 kilometres in town. In snappy Sport mode this ran out to between 10 and 11 L/100 km. Cruising the highway it sipped 5.5 litres per 100 kilometres with the engine at a steadfast 2000 rpm.

The new-generation all-wheel drive detects slippery conditions, and when setting off ends power to the rear wheels the instant the driver presses the accelerator pedal. At the same time, by achieving advance slip detection and optimum front-rear torque distribution, the system reduces energy loss due to the tyres slipping or an excess of drive power being sent to the rear wheels. It’s up for almost anything that can be thrown up under foot.

Storage spots are plentiful, with drink holders, seat-back pockets, and a convenient space in front of the gearshift ideal for a smartphone and includes a 12V power socket for charging.

The Mazda CX-3 might just be in the right place at the right time, amazingly it sold 814 units during its first nine days on sale. Nothing seems to have slowed in the meantime.



CX-3 Neo FWD 2.0-litre petrol: $19,990 (manual), $21,990 (automatic)
CX-3 Neo Safety FWD 2.0-litre petrol: $21,020 (manual), $23,020 (automatic)
CX-3 Maxx FWD 2.0-litre petrol: $22,390 (manual), $24,390 (automatic)
CX-3 Maxx Safety FWD 2.0-litre petrol: $23,420 (manual), $25,420 (automatic)
CX-3 sTouring FWD 2.0-litre petrol: $26,990 (manual), $28,990 (automatic)
CX-3 sTouring Safety FWD 2.0-litre petrol: $28,020 (manual), $30,020 (automatic)
CX-3 Akari 2.0-litre FWD etrol: $31,290 (manual), $33,290 (automatic)
CX-3 Maxx FWD 1.5-litre diesel: $26,790 (automatic)
CX-3 Maxx Safety FWD 1.5-litre diesel: $27,820 (automatic)
CX-3 Maxx AWD 2.0-litre petrol: $26,390 (automatic)
CX-3 Maxx Safety AWD 2.0-litre petrol: $27,420 (automatic)
CX-3 sTouring AWD 2.0-litre petrol: $30,990 (automatic)
CX-3 sTouring Safety AWD 2.0-litre petrol: $32,020 (automatic)
CX-3 Akari AWD 2.0-litre petrol: $35,290 (automatic)
CX-3 sTouring AWD 1.5-litre diesel: $33,390 (automatic)
CX-3 sTouring Safety 1.5-litre diesel: $34,420 (automatic)
CX-3 Akari 1.5-litre diesel: $37,690 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Mazda dealer for drive-away prices.

FEATURES (sTouring Safety)
18-inch alloy wheels with 215/50 tyres
Front fog-lamps (LED)
Daytime running lamps (LED)
Headlamps (LED)
Headlamps auto on/off function
Tail-lamps (LED)
Wipers (front) 2-speed with rain-sensing function
Seat trim: Black Maztex/grey cloth; leather (option)
Active Driving Display
Air-conditioning (climate control)
Advanced keyless entry

Safety Pack (option)
Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Smart City Brake Support

(2.0-litre in-line 4-cylinder petrol engine)
Capacity: 1998 cc
Configuration: In-line, 4-cylinder, 16 valve, DOHC S-VT petrol (Skyactiv-G) engine with i-stop
Bore and stroke: 83.5 mm x 91.2 mm
Compression ratio: 13.0:1
Maximum Power: 109 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 192 Nm @ 2800 rpm
Emission rating: Euro 5

Drivetrain: 6-speed (Skyactiv-Drive)

Length: 4275 mm
Width: 1765 mm
Height: 1550 mm
Wheelbase: 2570 mm
Track: 1525 mm (front); 1520 mm (rear)
Ground clearance: 155 mm
Kerb weight: 1294 kg
Towing capacity: 1200 kg (braked) / 640 kg (unbraked)
Tow ball download: 50 kg
Seating capacity: 5
Cargo capacity 264 litres (rear seat backs raised) / 1174 litres (rear seat backs folded)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 44 litres
Turning circle: 10.6 m

Suspension: McPherson struts (front); Torsion beam (rear)
Brakes: Ventilated discs (front); solid discs (rear). ABS anti-skid brake system with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Emergency Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability Control, Emergency Stop Signal.
Steering: Electric power assisted rack and pinion
Wheels / tyres: Alloy 18 x 7J / 215/50 R18 92V. Temporary steel spare

Acceleration 0 to 100 km/h: N/A
Top speed: N/A

Fuel type: 91 RON unleaded
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 6.7 litres per 100 km. CO2 emissions 160 g / km

Greenhouse Rating: 7.5 / 10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5 / 10

3 years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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