Mazda CX-3

What's new with the latest upgrade of Mazda's CX-3 Small SUV?

I’ve just driven the latest iteration of Mazda’s CX-3 small SUV, and while it’s a minor update, it’s good to see that the fundamentals that made it one of the most popular models of its ilk haven’t been compromised. 

Right from the start CX-3 has been a very nice drive, and the new model with its upgrades has only gotten better. It really is a lovely bit of kit.

Interior upgrades include a new centre console design and greater use of soft touch trim materials.

Outside there are some cosmetic revisions such as a new grill and taillights and some extra chrome bling on the more upmarket models.

But the real work has focussed on how it drives.  Suspension refinements mean that it rides better, with less ‘choppiness’ on poor roads, and less vibration through the steering. 

A lot of work has also gone into reducing interior noise levels by the addition of more sound insulation, thicker rear door glass and a sounder absorbent hood lining, all of which make a noticeable difference to what Mazda engineers call the ‘plushness’ of the cabin. To you and me that simply means a quieter, more pleasant and refined driving experience.

Under the bonnet the diesel engine has been updated and enlarged from 1.5-litres to 1.8 while the 2.0-litre petrol engine gets a host of technical updates that give slightly more torque and a small reduction in fuel consumption.   

All versions now have an electric park brake and a rear-view camera as standard as well as Mazda’s i-Activsense suite of safety equipment.

There has also been some rejigging of the model names. Neo Sport replaces Neo and Maxx Sport replaces Maxx to bring the CX-3 range into line with other models in the Mazda range.  The sTouring and the top of the range Akari name plates remain but watch for the addition of a new high-spec Akari LE soon.

There are a couple of new paint colours as well, Soul Red Crystal metallic, which accounts for about 25 percent of Mazda sales now, and Machine Grey metallic round out the new colour choices.

Prices have gone up slightly compared to the outgoing model but the introduction of drive away pricing makes the small increases less obvious.  The Neo Sport petrol with manual transmission now starts at $23,990 while the top spec Akari diesel is $40,490.  Mazda’s newly minted five-year unlimited kilometre warranty also applies.

If you’re in the market for a small SUV this really is a ‘must drive’, but I must acknowledge that as good as it is, it is small and for some the rear seat leg room and boot space will be an incentive to look at the larger CX-5.