Mazda CX-3 review

Category: Small SUV

Section: Costs & verdict

Star rating
Mazda CX-3 headlight shot
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Costs & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The CX-3 isn’t a particularly cost-effective small SUV. It’s expensive to buy, for starters, especially if you go for one of the higher-specification models.

Mazda expects most buyers to opt for a PCP finance scheme rather than buying outright, but even then the CX-3 is costlier to buy than many of its rivals. It’s cheaper to service than other alternatives and holds its value well, though.

The diesel offers the lowest emissions and highest claimed economy of the range, so it’s likely to appeal to company car drivers the most. Don’t overlook the petrol models if you’re a private buyer – especially if your annual mileage is quite low – but bear in mind that rivals tend to be vastly more efficient

Equipment, options and extras

There are three trim levels in the CX-3 range: SE Nav+, SE-L Nav+ and Sport Nav+.

Standard SE Nav+ models come with a decent amount of kit, including 16in alloy wheels, air conditioning, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, cruise control, power-folding door mirrors and a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav.

The mid-spec SE-L Nav+ builds on that with the likes of LED front foglights, privacy glass, climate control, heated seats and rear parking sensors. It’s a pricey step up from the SE Nav+, but we reckon it’s worth the extra.

Pricey Sport Nav models have additional, useful features that include LED headlights, keyless entry, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel and a rear-view camera, but also add many cosmetic enhancements that add little value. Their bigger 18in wheels return a rather bumpier ride, too.


Mazda as a manufacturer has a good record for reliability, finishing 12th out of the 31 manufacturers reviewed in our last reliability survey.

The CX-3, at least pre-facelift, didn’t quite match that score, though, finishing mid-table in the small SUV class.

Better news is that a three-year/60,000-mile warranty is standard, although it’s worth bearing in mind that brands including Hyundai and Kia cover their small SUVs for longer.

Mazda CX-3 headlight shot

Safety and security

Every CX-3 comes as standard with a decent amount of safety equipment, including six airbags, stability control, hill hold assist, tyre pressure monitoring and a speed limiter. A tyre repair kit is also standard across the range.

SE-L Nav and Sport Nav models feature city automatic emergency braking to reduce the likelihood of a bump in town, and lane-departure warning is on hand to alert you if you drift from your lane on a motorway or well-marked country road.

There’s also an optional Safety Pack that adds blindspot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and high beam assist. While reasonably priced, it’s a shame it’s only available top-spec Sport Nav+ models fitted with a petrol engine.

A Thatcham Category 1 alarm is fitted to all CX-3s.


Good looking, well equipped, and featuring an easy-to-use infotainment system, the Mazda CX-3 is not without its charms. However, the naturally aspirated petrol engines feel weak compared to their turbocharged rivals, and the CX-3 isn't particularly refined at speed. Meanwhile, there are more practical small SUVs to choose from in terms of rear seat and boot space.

  • Smart; stylish looks
  • Good infotainment system
  • Composed ride
  • Petrol engines are weak from low revs
  • Limited rear room
  • High running costs
  • Unimpressive petrol emissions

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