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Mazda CX-3

Motoring Review

CROSSOVERS are like reality television shows; just when you think they can't come up with anything else - they do. More drama, more style and more thrills than before but do they, really? Mazda reckons that its new crossover vehicle, the CX-3 does. I took it for a drive to find out if it has the ability to truly entertain us or is it just another look-at-me Kardashian?

This is new for Mazda

The CX-3 is the Japanese carmakers first ever attempt at a crossover vehicle. The lines can be easily blurred but essentially, a crossover is a vehicle that blendson-road driving feel with slight off-road abilities. Mazda is targeting a new market with this car - one that is not young, but not old, either, so basically for those who are in their thirties. 

About the design

The Mazda CX-3 does share much of its KODO - Soul of Motion traits with other Mazdas. Design features such as the sculpted, flowing lines and the compact rear-leaning cabin, the CX-3's bold face, prominent grille, side mouldings and high beltline all blend together to form what is an unmistakable Mazda design.  


Around back, the cleanly crafted tailgate design featuring a number plate recess emphasises the CX-3's short overhang. The details really do underscore the rear end's sporty design, right down to the prominent dual exhaust pipes. 

What's it like inside?

For starters, it's familiar. The interior does - closely- resemble that of the Mazda2 and that’s not a bad thing, though. I quite like the Mazda2’s interior. The CX-3 does however combine the best of all worlds from an impressive field of view to a neat and ergonomic layout the small SUV offers a pleasantly surprising level of tastefully sophisticated comfort. 

Interior space is decent although the boot is a bit small, 264 litres of space to be exact. The rear seats do feature a 60:40 split though, which is handy. 

Entertain me

The CX-3 is offered with a choice of infotainment systems. The top-spec models get a touch screen mounted to the top of the dashboard. Mazda calls it, a human-machine interface. It has all vital controls on the steering wheel and a rotary dial ergonomically positioned near the handbrake. The system is easy to use and also offers all the device connectivity one expects.  

What's it like on the road?

It feels like a slightly raised hatchback, which means that it copes with bumps better, without being imposing to drive. I drove on some bumpy roads and the CX-3 handled them well. 

What about power?

The CX-3 is offered with a petrol fuelled 2.0-litre engine, which features Mazda’s impressiveSKYACTIV technology. This engine develops 88kW and 205Nm of torque. It might not be turbocharged but this engine loves to kiss the red line. Customers will have a choice of either amanual or a six-speed automatic gearbox. I managed 6.8 litres/100km along my short drive around the Cape. To help with economy, the CX-3 also features Mazda’s i-Stop system (Start/Stop technology) to help save on fuel. 


Mazda will be offering five different specification-equipped models in the form of the Active, Dynamic and Individual. The latter is only available with an automatic gearbox, while the other two have a choice of either manual or auto. 

My verdict

Mazda is determined to offer cars with the same look and feel of a more premium, German car without the exuberant price tag. Although the road is long, they are on the right track. They are also determined to improve customer satisfaction levels across the board. 

The CX-3 does go up against some well established competition in the form of the Ford EcoSport, Opel Mokka and the Nissan Juke to name a few. As mentioned, I do like the overall design; I just think it’s a bit down on space. It's competitively priced, as well.

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