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Mazda CX-3 road test – 5 things buyers need to know

June 30, 2015 by

The new Mazda CX-3 is the latest introduction to the Japanese marque’s refreshed line-up. This sharp-looking compact crossover has space for small families but feels sportier than many rivals so keen drivers should take note.

In addition to the fun handling, the CX-3 makes it clearer than ever that Mazda is pushing its products upmarket with advanced technology and tastefully designed cabins. carwow brings you the five things you need to know about Mazda’s latest offering.

The body of an SUV but the soul of a sports car

The CX-3’s taller ride height, greater weight and family-orientated design might lead you to believe the car won’t drive as well as Mazda’s legendary MX-5 sports car. Admittedly, the CX-3 won’t fool you into thinking it’s a two-door but, thanks to its excellent stability and intuitive controls, it’s surprisingly good fun to drive.

The steering is fairly light when you first turn in but gains a satisfying weight as you carry on meaning you instantly feel confident behind the wheel. The other controls, likewise, are simple, light and intuitive in use. Even on badly undulating roads, the CX-3 never feels like it’s out of its comfort zone or it might lose its line through a turn. This is backed up by responsive petrol and diesel engines that stay quiet unless thrashed.

It isn’t cheap (but you get what you pay for)

Mazda has priced the CX-3 above rivals like the Nissan Juke and Fiat 500X. This might seem like an odd move but it only tells half the story because Mazda has fitted the CX-3 with more standard equipment than its rivals. Specify any of the competition to the same level and they either cost more or offer less performance than the CX-3. This makes buying a CX-3 a surprisingly easy task because you won’t need to pore over the options list to get the equipment you want.

Even basic SE models get alloy wheels, air-conditioning and an infotainment system with Bluetooth and DAB radio. SE-L editions add parking sensors, heated seats, climate control, lane departure warning and automatic city braking. Top-spec Sport Nav models get leatherette seats, a reversing camera and an upgraded audio system.

It’s quite posh

The cabin feels noticeably more sophisticated than Mazdas of old making it a nicer place to spend time in. It’s sturdily constructed and the materials used feel upmarket positioning the CX-3 closer to premium rivals like the Mercedes GLA and the BMW X1.

Lower down in the cabin, the CX-3’s more humble origins are more obvious. A sharp prod of the centre console reveals it’s made of lower grade plastic than those used in the driver’s eye-line but, for most, this is unlikely to be a deal-breaker.

It’s smart, too

Looking good and feeling good are certainly enough to pull buyers in but, to really appeal to younger customers, Mazda has fitted the CX-3 with a full complement of safety and communication technology.

Lane departure warning and automatic city braking keep a watchful eye on your safety while the infotainment system can read your messages and allows you to reply on the move from a set list of standard responses.

There’s lots of competition

The CX-3 is entering one of the most crowded marketplaces on the market. The likes of the Nissan Juke, Mini Countryman and the Fiat 500X all vie for buyers’ attention so Mazda’s offering needs to be eye-catching enough to carve out a significant slice of the action.

On the basis of this test drive, it definitely has what it takes – it feels upmarket, has plenty of technology and drives brilliantly. Buyers looking for more outright comfort and refinement might want to look at rivals but, thanks to its sportier character, the CX-3 should be very near the top of any prospective crossover buyer’s list.

What next?

The Mazda CX-3 goes on sale on 19 June , if you want one, make sure you head over to carwow after that date to be one of the first in the UK to get one. In the meantime, read our full Mazda CX-3 review or, to see more options, check out carwow’s list of the best compact crossovers. For our latest discounts, look at our deals page.