What's the used Mazda CX-3 hatchback like?
It’s rare to find a car in the small SUV class that’s both smart and engaging, but the Mazda CX-3 seems to pull it off. For starters, its mature design manages to be stylish without trying too hard to be fashionable. And on top of that, potential purchasers would be right to hope that this car is imbued with just enough of Mazda’s sporty DNA to make it satisfying to drive.
Underneath, it’s basically a Mazda 2, a likeable if entirely conventional front-wheel drive small hatchback. However, the CX-3 has a 40mm higher ride height and tweaked suspension and steering to compensate for that increase.
The CX-3 offers the choice of three engines – two petrols and one diesel. The petrols are both 2.0-litre units, with one pumping out 118bhp and the other 148bhp, while the diesel is a 104bhp 1.5-litre unit. The more powerful petrol model is available only with four-wheel drive.
There are three trim levels: SE Nav, SE-L Nav and Sport Nav. Entry-level SE Nav models come with a decent amount of kit, including air conditioning, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, cruise control and a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav. Mid-range SE-L Nav builds on that list with the likes of climate control, heated seats and rear parking sensors. Sport Nav models are expensive, even used, but get cosmetic tweaks, such as bigger wheels and silver trim accents, as well as part-leatherette trim and a premium Bose sound system.
The lower-powered petrol engine pushes the CX-3 around with reasonable verve. It’s an eager unit that likes to be revved, giving it an old-fashioned, sporty feel. It can be a little coarse, however. The more powerful petrol engine is a little hampered by being available only with four-wheel drive, and it never feels any quicker than the less powerful version anyway. The diesel engine has plenty of low-end shove, but it isn’t particularly eager or refined. The manual gearbox that is standard on all versions is slick and smooth, and the optional automatic 'box works well, too.
Approach a corner and you might wonder if your hopes for some sporty Mazda DNA had been misplaced. The CX-3 corners well enough, but its steering is inconsistently weighted and there’s plenty of roll and pitch from the car's body. On top of that, the handling is rather sloppy, especially through quicker corners, and the car seems to be a little short of balance. It rides in a similar fashion, feeling rather underdamped as it deals with bumps and ridges.
Inside is a comfortable and supportive driving position, with a decent range of seat and wheel adjustment. Rear visibility is a little limited by the rear window pillars, though. The controls are all logically placed, with rotary heating controls and a handily placed infotainment controller just behind the gearlever. The infotainment system itself is slick and has clear display.
Space up front is reasonable, but rear room is distinctly measly, with three abreast a real squeeze and leg room very poor behind a 6ft-tall driver. The boot is of a reasonable size, but there are rivals that do better.
What used Mazda CX-3 hatchback will I get for my budget?
Choose to buy your CX-3 from a trader and accept an average mileage and you could pick one up for around £10,000. However, we’d recommend spending a little more and getting a clean car from an independent dealer, say between £11,000 and £13,000. Up the ante to between £14,000 and £15,000 and you’ll find good 2016-2017 cars with a low to average mileage for the year, bought from a franchised dealer. Those after 2018 or newer models should expect to be forking out around £16,000.
Check the value of a used Mazda CX-3 with What Car? Valuations
How much does it cost to run a Mazda CX-3 hatchback?
Unsurprisingly, the diesel romps home in the economy race. Its claimed average fuel consumption is a wholesome 70.6mpg, with corresponding CO2 emissions of 105g/km. The four-wheel-drive version reduces this to just 60.1mpg. Of the petrols, the 118bhp engine claims an average of 47.9mpg, while the four-wheel-drive 148bhp version claims 44.1mpg.
Road tax for cars registered before April 2017 is based on CO2 emissions, so the diesel models are naturally cheaper. Those registered after that date will all be charged at the current flat rate. Find out more about the current car tax rates by following this link here.
Insurance groups vary between 14 and 18, depending on power output.
Mazda offers fixed-price maintenance. This gives you a list of how much common maintenance operations, such as changing the brake discs or pads, will cost, which you can then use to compare prices with independant garages in your area. Mazda also offers extended servicing plans to cater for different ownership and usage requirements, and the CX-3 should be about average for the class in terms of servicing costs.
Which used Mazda CX-3 hatchback should I buy?
We like the 118bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine in the CX-3. It’s just about punchy enough and reasonably economical. The diesel is obviously the one to go for if fuel economy is the chief concern, but it’s a grumbly engine that doesn’t offer much in the way of driver appeal. The higher-powered 2.0-litre petrol is handicapped by only being available with four-wheel drive, which no CX-3 needs or deserves.
SE Nav is the cheapest trim level and comes with most of the goodies you’ll want, including cruise control and a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system, so we’d look for one of those.
Our favourite Mazda CX-3: 2.0 120 SE Nav
What alternatives should I consider to a used Mazda CX-3 hatchback?
The Renault Captur is a very popular small SUV, being refined, well equipped and roomy enough for four. It comes with a sliding rear bench seat, which adds to its practicality. Used ones are good value for money, too.
The Audi Q2 is at the premium end of the small SUV class, with a classy, user-friendly interior containing plenty of tech. On top of that, it handles well and is quite good to drive – a rarity in this class. However, like the CX-3, it’s a little tight for rear seat room.