Mazda CX-3 Akari AWD

Mazda's CX-3 has had an upgrade which is sure to impress.

Mazda's CX-3 is well regarded around here, being our reigning Australia’s Best Cars awards Best Small 2WD SUV Under $35,000.

But it gets better. Since the awards were announced last year, the CX-3 has come in for an upgrade. All 16 variants among the range now have a rear-view camera as standard as well as Mazda’s i-Activsense comprehensive suite of safety equipment that includes Smart City Brake Support Forward and Reverse, and Emergency Brake Assistance. This complements existing extensive safety tech such as Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Safety Alert.

In the instance of the upper range Akari AWD (as tested), the upgrade further includes Mazda’s new 360° View Monitor and Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go, making the CX-3 the only vehicle in its category to offer both functions.

The capable, 110kW 2.0-litre petrol engine, mated with a slick-shifting six-speed auto, gets a host of technical updates that takes torque to 195Nm and results in a slight reduction in ADR combined cycle fuel consumption (now 6.7 litres/100km). That may be, but we averaged 8.7 on test.

Handling has always been a Mazda hallmark and the CX-3 is one of the best credentialled in its class. Electric Power Steering (EPS) revisions have served to enhance what was already a nicely weighted feel to the ‘tiller’.

Suspension refinements mean that it copes better with rougher roads, though overall ride quality is still a tad short of best in class (think Honda HR-V). Considerable work has also gone into reducing interior noise levels through the addition of more sound insulation, thicker rear door glass and better absorbent hood lining, Mazda says. However, engine noise does intrude in the cabin when the revs rise.

Inside, the CX-3 presents as clean, classy and comfy. The command control for the infotainment system is easy to use and interior materials feature a combination of hard and soft finishes of a higher standard than you might expect from what is essentially a light vehicle.

However, if size matters, then you might find the CX-3 short of ideal. While the front is airy and spacy, it’s not so behind the B-pillar where rear adult passengers will find it tight. Similarly, the cargo area is limited compared with the category’s space ships such as the HR-V and Nissan Qashqai.

Key Stats

  • PRICE: $37,490 (excludes on-road costs)
  • ENGINE:  2.0-litre petrol 4-cyl.
  • ANCAP SAFETY RATING: 5 stars
  • CO2 EMISSIONS (g/km): 160

For:

Extensive safety and equipment levels, drive dynamics.

Against:

Tight rear seat and cargo space, space saver spare wheel.