The new Mazda CX-3 Hatchback is an attractive and fun-to-drive family car that’s right at home in the compact SUV sector. It boasts an upmarket cabin and low running costs and will appeal to families who need something that’s useful but which is also engaging.
The Mazda’s chassis that underpins it is what makes its driving experience so special, while the introduction of G-Vectoring technology has further improved its agility. It’s a really exciting prospect.
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 Mazda CX-3 Hatchback review.
Interested in finding out more about this Japanese automotive company who released their first car in 1931? Read more in our history of Mazda.
Overview of the Mazda CX-3 Hatchback
On the Road
You’ll struggle to find a car that’s more fun to drive in this sector than the Mazda. The brand have pulled out all the stops to make sure it offers an involving driving experience, such as shaving off some weight.
The added bonus of losing weight is that the ride is more comfortable because the suspension setup doesn’t have to work so hard at reining in such a heavy body.
Moreover, the CX-3 doesn’t drive like a bulky SUV but instead has the manners of a regular-sized hatchback. Its gearbox is nice and light, and its steering is well weighted. It feels super positive, which isn’t something you can say about a lot of its rivals.
Mazda have also added a new piece of technology called G-Vectoring, which reduces the amount of torque sent to the front wheels whenever you take a bend. This boosts grip, and it also means that you don’t have to work as hard. The tech also boosts comfort and minimises driver fatigue.
In terms of its engines, there’s just the one petrol on offer but it’s available with two separate power outputs. It’s a 2.0-litre unit that develops 118bhp in entry-level guise. This variant can get you from rest to 62mph in 9.0 seconds which makes it faster than the diesel versions.
The bigger of the two petrols develops 148bhp and has a 0-62 time of 8.8 seconds. That’s a really small improvement and both engines are responsive, don’t make too much noise and they feel smooth for the most part.
That said, you do need to work them harder than the diesel, and they do moan and groan when you put your foot down.
Mazda CX-3 Hatchback Interior, Design and Build
Buyers that want their mainstream family cars to come with a touch of class will find that there’s plenty to like here. The cabin is plush with soft-touch plastics, and there’s a genuine upmarket feel to things.
We like the colours, too, and they help to brighten the interior in a way that many cabins in this sector don’t.
Fit and finish is excellent and ride quality is good. Insulation is an improvement on last time, helped by the quiet petrol engines.
Look far enough and you’ll also find evidence of harder plastics, but it’s a minor complaint.
The passenger can help the driver out by using the centre console rotary dial to control the infotainment system and sat nav, while all the controls are well positioned.
Mazda have added a brand new electric handbrake, and while this might seem a bit disconcerting at first, you’ll soon get used to it. It also has the added bonus of freeing up more space and you’ll find an extra cubby space beneath it.
Is the Mazda CX-3 practical? It’s capable in this area but it’s not class leading.
It’s a tad bigger than one or two of its nearest rivals, and it’s easy to access. The driver’s seat is height adjustable, the steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach, and visibility is good.
Rear headroom is limited by the sloping roofline, while legroom is reasonable at best. Storage solutions are good and include a large glovebox, while the boot measures 350-litres. Fold the rear seats and you can extend it to 1,260.
How reliable are Mazda vehicles? In our honest and unbiased assessment, we look at the statistics so you don’t have to.
Equipment and Safety of the Mazda CX-3
Standard kit is very good across the range, with the entry-level model getting sat nav, a handsome leather steering wheel, air con, a digital radio, Bluetooth, and cruise control.
The mid-range model adds rear parking sensors, privacy glass, climate control and automatic lights and wipers.
Rounding things off is the Sport Nav trim that nets you chrome effect body trim, signature LED rear lights, keyless entry and lovely 18″ silver alloys.
In terms of how safe the car is, it scored a disappointing 4/5 for its Euro NCAP crash test performance.
Standard safety kit is good though, and all models come with emergency stop signalling, hill hold assistance, 6 airbags, and electronic stability control. If you want autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning, you’ll need to overlook the entry-level model.
Costs of the Mazda CX-3 Hatchback
Prices for the new car start out from £18,995 and rise to £24,995. For more information on our leasing deals, check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, the 2.0-litre petrol engine is available in two power outputs and neither are as economical as the diesels. The 118bhp variant can return as much as 45.5mpg on a good day and emits 141g/km of CO2 if you stick to two-wheel drive. That seems reasonable considering how big this car is.
The 148bhp variant of the same engine is faster and more performative but almost as efficient. It can return 40.3mpg at best and emits 160g/km of CO2. Those numbers might have been even better if four-wheel drive wasn’t standard. It has a BiK rating of 33%.
Pros and Cons of the Mazda CX-3 Hatchback
Equipped with cutting-edge driver aids
The likes of G-Vectoring is a quality piece of advanced tech that improves the way the car drives.
Top notch cabin
The interior feels like an upmarket product.
Its sharp looks make it a real head turner.
It’s not the cheapest car of this type, with prices starting out from just under £19,000.
Not much engine choice
There’s only one petrol available, though it’s offered in two separate guises.
Mazda CX-3 Hatchback vs Citroen C3 Aircross vs SEAT Arona
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Mazda CX-3 review.
Mazda CX-3 Hatchback vs Citroen C3 Aircross
The new Citroen C3 Aircross is another uniquely styled offering from Citroen that’s quirky, imaginative – and actually rather good.
In terms of the way it drives, it’s not as fun as the Mazda but it’s got enough road manners to keep most buyers satisfied. It’s armed with a good amount of grip, and it’s nice and comfortable.
Body lean is kept to a minimum, the steering is accurate if a little too light, and the car feels at home both in the towns and cities, as well as out on the motorway.
Engine-wise, the only engine on offer is a turbocharged 1.2-litre PureTech petrol unit that’s available in three separate power outputs. The smallest of the three develops just 82bhp, takes almost 16.0 seconds to complete the 0-63 sprint, and will be overlooked by most buyers.
Next up is a 109bhp variant that can get you from a standstill to 62mph in 10.9 seconds, and it’s our top pick. However, if you feel that you need more pace and power, there’s also a 129bhp variant of the same engine available.
Running costs? The mid-range 109bhp petrol engine is actually the cheapest to run, returning as much as 56.5mpg on a good day. It’s helped on this front by stop-start tech, which the smaller 82bhp engine doesn’t get. As a result, it returns a slightly less economy at best – 55.4mpg.
Inside, there’s a lot to like about the Aircross, with Citroen going for what they call a ‘lounge’ feeling. To this end, the cabin is comfortable and relaxing, and ride quality is smooth for the most part.
The wide seats are supportive and easy to relax in, and you can specify a two-tone interior if you wish.
The dashboard meanwhile, is a clean and tidy affair, and there are better quality materials added with each trim level.
Is the Citroen C3 Aircross practical? It looks like a fairly compact car, but a tall roof means that there’s plenty of headroom in here. Four adults can sit in comfort on longer journeys, but taller adults will find that knee room, in particular, is a bit limited.
The boot is a good size and measures 410-litres when the car is full of people. When the rear seats are vacated, you can slide the rear seats forward to increase boot size to 520-litres. Or, you can just fold the rear seats and extend it to 1,289-litres.
Mazda – £18,995 – £24,995
Citroen – £14,700 – £20,035
Mazda CX-3 Hatchback vs SEAT Arona
The new SEAT Arona is as stylish as we’ve come to expect all SEAT’s to be, and it boasts a handful of impressive engines.
Unusually for a SEAT, the Arona isn’t super fun to drive. It’s agile to a degree, and it can offer strong performance, but the Mazda is the one to go for if you want to be entertained.
On the plus side, the steering is well weighted and accurate, and body lean is well managed. We’d prefer a bit more feedback, but it won’t be long before you’re able to gauge what’s needed to take a corner with a bit of enthusiasm.
All models come with what’s called a Driver Profile system, which alters the reaction time of the throttle and the power steering. Also onboard is a Dynamic Chassis control system, although this isn’t available with the entry-level model.
In terms of its engines, there’s a lot to choose from. A 1.0-litre petrol unit that develops 94bhp kicks things off, but buyers will likely overlook this in favour of a 113bhp variant of the same engine that has a 0-62 time of 9.9 seconds. It’s quiet on the motorway, and it’s refined for the most part.
Rounding things off is a 1.5-litre petrol engine that develops 148bhp. It’s not super duper fast, but it’s strong and noticeably powerful. It also makes your life a lot easier on the road.
Running costs? The 113bhp variant of the smallest petrol engine can return a very respectable 56.mpg on a good day while emitting 114g/km of CO2. This qualifies it for a BiK rating of 23%.
The bigger 1.5-litre petrol engine isn’t much more expensive to run and can manage 55.4mpg. It emits 115g/km.
Inside, the SEAT isn’t as upmarket as the Mazda, although it is a fairly pleasant place to spend your time on the road. Its cabin is well built, smart and modern. It’s not so stylish though, and some buyers will find it too functional and plain.
Naturally, it does function well and all the controls are logically arranged.
Is the SEAT Arona practical? It’s based on the Ibiza, which means it’s usable but far from class leading. Headroom is better than it is in the Ibiza and four adults should be able to travel in relative comfort – although rear legroom is a bit of an issue.
The boot meanwhile, measures a useful 400-litres, which makes it bigger than the Mazda.
SEAT – £16,905 – £25,120
Verdict of our 2018 Mazda CX-3 Hatchback Review
Mazda cars should be on buyers shortlists, no matter what car type you’re looking for. This compact and stylish crossover is yet another example of the brand’s knack for producing top quality products that give buyers major headaches when it comes to making a decision.
We could make this one easy for you of course, and remind you that the Mazda CX-3 Hatchback is better to drive than most of its rivals, sharper styled, and boasts an upmarket cabin that wouldn’t look all that out of place in a Mercedes.