Mazda CX-3 compact crossover review filed by Matt Calvitto.
Australians continue to flock to SUVs, though with their popularity has come a desire to have the space and versatility of an off-roader, without the off-road ability.
Small SUVs and crossovers then, like the Mazda CX-3, are proving to be exactly what buyers, who are predominately city-dwellers, are being drawn to.
Offering raised ride height, improved visibility and chunkier styling, Australians love small SUVs.
The new Mazda CX-3 range is complex and multi-layered and is priced from just $19,990 for the entry-level CX-3 Neo. Right up at the other end of the range is the Mazda CX-3 Akira.
Pricing for the flagship model starts from $31,290 for the variant fitted with a 2.0 litre petrol engine, six-speed manual transmission and two-wheel drive. While the 1.5 litre diesel, which is auto-only and all-wheel drive is priced from $37,690.
Out on the road the 77kw/270Nm 1.5 litre turbo-diesel SKYACTIV engine delivers power across a wide band of revs and healthy dollop of torque too. The moderately-sized diesel engine gets the CX-3 moving along confidently and there’s more than enough grunt for swift overtaking if needed.
The engine isn’t quiet though, and it is always clear from within the cabin that you chose the diesel!
Mazda claims average fuel consumption of 5.1L/100km, although the best I achieved was a still respectable 6.9L/100km. Fuel economy boosted by an engine start/stop system.
The Mazda’s CX-3’s road manners are a large part of its appeal. The steering is wonderfully sharp, almost sporty even and there’s virtually no body roll, despite the increased ride height.
The ride quality is good too, firm but comfortable and composed. All-wheel drive grip provides added surety in wet weather.
On the inside, the Mazda CX-3 range borrows much of its interior from the Mazda2, so there’s the asymmetrical but clever dashboard, tactile surfaces and a quality fit and finish.
The 2015 Mazda CX-3 Akari adds a fresh, vibrant and premium feel to the already modern interior architecture with cream leather, charcoal coloured alcantara trim and red highlights. There’s also a large tachometer with digital speedo that complements the heads up display.
The Mazda CX-3 heads up display even displays satellite-navigation info, clever.
The sat-nav system is one of many functions that forms Mazda’s MZD Connect infotainment system. The system displays information on a clear graphical display and control is primarily by way of a large knob on the centre console.
While the design is clean and minimalistic, I reckon Mazda should add shortcut buttons to make it a little more user-friendly.
Another bugbear of the CX-3 (and the Mazda2) is the absence of a covered centre-console compartment, meaning the only oddment storage is the glovebox.
Visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent and the front two passengers have acceptable head, leg and shoulder room. Despite being a top-spec model (and priced accordingly) the CX-3 Akari misses out on seat heating and electric adjustment.
In the back things are less roomy. Rear headroom is passable, but legroom is tight and the only reprieve for the two outer passengers is that they are able to slide their feet underneath the front seats.
Thus, sitting three abreast in the Mazda CX-3 would be a cozy experience!
The boot is on the small side too, though you can lay the backseat down to get up to 1174 litres of cargo space.
The complete Mazda CX-3 range has been awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Summing it up; the 2015 Mazda CX-3 Akari isn’t cheap, but it’s fabulous to drive, comfortable and beautifully crafted. Mazda has hit sweet spot in filling the small SUV brief.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2015 Mazda CX-3 Akari diesel
Engine: 1.5 litre turbo-diesel producing 77kW and 270Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic (only)
Safety: Five stars
Warranty: Three years
Price: from $37,690
Matt Calvitto is the founder of automotive website – themotoringguru.com