2018 Mazda CX 3 Midlife Update Launch Road Test, Review
CX 3 sold 1,233 units last month and 10,048 so far this year, and is Mazda’s 3rd top selling model behind CX 5 and Mazda 3.
CX 3 is based on Mazda 2, the tiny city car which comes as a sedan and hatch..
There has been a raft of updates to engines, interiors, and exteriors. The bottom two models have received the addition of the “sport” moniker, and a 5th “LE grade will be added to the Akari shortly.
So, is it any good?
There are 8 exterior paint colours, and 5 interiors to choose from. A variable cornucopia of choice variants result. Red has proved to be the most popular, and why not, it goes faster.
New wheels range from 16” to 18” as you move up the range. Akari’s 18” wheels are new and make the little SUV look like is just had a quick workout. It looks all muscular and butch, in a cutsie-pie kind of way. I think the proportions are just right.
The grille has been refined with subtle changes in the lines running across it, and the trim around it. The lower bumper is new, and there are new LED head and tail lights. Akari has radar cruise control, so the Mazda badge at the front is now solid and houses the front facing radar.
New chrome trim around the grille, and along under the doors adds a bit of bling to the exterior.
Grey plakky trim around the nether regions add a touch of verisimilitude. It gives owners the impression that muddy country lanes and lofty hilltops are not unreachable. Even in AWD models, it isn’t something I would want to tackle.
All in all- the face of CX 3 is more cute than handsome. The pleasing shape, strong lines, and attractive lighting arrays make the little hatchback look expensive, and buyers like that premium look. That claim is backed up by the impressive sales figures.
Seating is superbly comfortable with extra cushioning on front seats adding to the isolation from road and engine vibration. Cream trim on our Akari looked brilliant, but is the antithesis of an easy-clean interior des
There are new arm rests front and back.
The centre stack is topped by a touch screen tablet, so keep a mircofibre cloth handy if you don’t want your OCD set off. There is a controller in the centre console between the front seats. It has also been redesigned and relocated with the addition of an electric parking brake.
More controls have been grouped around it, making it a command centre where most used changes can be easily made. It was made possible when the hand brake lever was done away with.
Doors have Alcantara fabric, and a new surround for power window controls.
Further controls have been grouped below and to the right of the steering column. These are regularly used, but less often than those on the centre console. It has been thoughtfully considered and is much easier to use than the old car.
Steering wheel buttons round off the ergonomics with everything being in easy reach. Best of all, it all make sense. Connecting to Bluetooth can be done in under 20 seconds without the need for the user guide.
Space is uber-tight in the back seats for taller occupants, but this is a city car so for short trips it is adequate. My knees were right against the front seat back, so anything further than a 20 minute trip might get old very fast.
The cabin looks and feels good quality with everything you touch and see looking more expensive than the entry-level prices might indicate.
Cool features like a 360° camera, blind spot monitor, electric parking brake and smart radar cruise control have been added to some models. None of these are particularly rare, but Mazda claims noe other small SUV offers all of these in one car. Only the Akari is fully loaded though.
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is an update coming around Christmas time.
Mazda wasn’t firm on timing or price, but hinted at the end of the year, with $200 being the probable price. It is a dealer fitted thing so anyone with a Mazda bought in the last few years should book their jalopy in for a useful upgrade.
The 360° camera is particularly handy, and while not unique, is something you quickly learn you can’t do without. Never again will you park badly at the local shopping centre.
Akari’s audio system has great tone. CarPlay will expand its usefulness .
- 360° camera
- Radar cruise control
- Electric parking brake
- Stop and Go (engine turns off at traffic lights)
- Auto dimming rear view mirror
- Climate control
- Smart Entry/start
Drive and Engine
The 2.0L petrol engine has been tweaked and gets an extra 1kw and 3 Nm over the old model lifting figures to 111kw and 195Nm.
The turbo diesel grows from 1.5 to 1.8L with power up from 77kw to 85kw, with torque remaining at 270Nm. Max torque cuts in at a low 1,600rpm.
Mazda says it kept the torque at 270Nm to keep the damaging NOX particles at a minimum. These minute particles are the components of diesel exhaust which cause lung damage.
CX3 comes in front, or AWD mated to either a 6-speed manual or 6 speed auto. Sales figures show customers were drawn to petrol, Front Wheel Drive, automatic variants, but Managing Director of Mazda Australia, Vinesh Bhindi, says it costs the company nothing to give customers a wider choice.
Ride, handling, and noise have all been substantially improved, but most notable is the brilliant ride. Handling is good but the soft ride means CX 3 prefers a gentle meander to warp ten cornering.
Remember. CX3 is based on Mazda 2, a city car. Like the 2, CX 3 is a city car to be used for around town chores, but 2-up could easily manage a longer trip.
Mazda took us on a bunch of different roads. Highways were particularly relaxed and showed CX 3 as a classy competent tourer with just the front seats being used. Overtaking needed some thought though. Even in sport mode, CX 3 is no power house, but then, it doesn’t pretend to be.
The petrol engine got a little breathless on hills, but a kick in the guts soon sorts all that out.
It handled mid corner bumps without much aplomb, and on quieter sections of tarmac, was almost completely silent.
As the green hills slid by, i felt relaxed in my comfy cocoon. It made the mini tour a pleasure.
Around town, both engines were nippy, and this is where CX 3 is going to be happiest. Low gearing allows spritely take-offs at lights. The 6-speed automatic is smooth. Like all gearboxes in modern cars, it changes up as quickly as possible for best fuel economy. In an ideal world, you’d keep the revs as high as possible.
The diesel has considerably more torque and you notice that at low revs but it feels much more agricultural than her petrol sister.
Electric power steering got the laying on of hands.
Men with laptops and white coats toiled sleeplessly for days on end to get the calibration just so.
And, It shows. Steering feels much more responsive than before. Although it remains light and easy, there is enough road feel to give the driver a satisfying amount of feedback. Along with the tiny exterior dimensions, it makes parking effortless.
I can imagine a couple doing a cheeky weekend away with a picnic hamper and overnight totes in the back. There is even room for your mutt if that’s your thing. If you treat CX 3
CX 3 got a 5-star ANCAP rating in 2015, and has gained further safety enhancements.
You can search your car’s safety rating here, but remember, that rating is as of the date tested. You old banger might have gotten 5 stars in 2001, but may not score more than 1 or 2 now.
- Among upgrades are:.
- Radar Cruise Control
- 360 Camera
- Autonomous emergency braking in forward and reverse
- Emergency brake assist
- good looks
- classy cabin
- comfortable seating
Not So Good Bits
- space can be tight for larger adults
- petrol engine can be breathless on the highway
- CarPlay still only a promise
CX is my favourite Mazda SUV.
City cars need to be two things: economical, and diminutive. CX 3 is both. The surprise is how well it handled country roads.
Changes in road surface don’t overly bother it much. Ride is probably its greatest asset.
CX 3 will appeal to buyers wanting a small hatch, but would like something riding slightly higher. It no doubt accounts for the rise in sales at the expense of the regular passenger counterparts.
For other brands, CHECK YOUR AIRBAG RECALL STATUS HERE
Drive Away Pricing
|CX-3 6M NEO SPORT PETROL FWD||$23,990|
|CX-3 6A NEO SPORT PETROL FWD||$25,990|
|CX-3 6M MAXX SPORT PETROL FWD||$25,490|
|CX-3 6A MAXX SPORT PETROL FWD||$27,490|
|CX-3 6M STOURING PETROL FWD||$28,740|
|CX-3 6A MAXX SPORT PETROL AWD||$29,490|
|CX-3 6A MAXX SPORT DIESEL FWD||$29,990|
|CX-3 6A STOURING PETROL FWD||$30,740|
|CX-3 6A STOURING PETROL AWD||$32,740|
|CX-3 6M AKARI PETROL FWD||$33,990|
|CX-3 6A AKARI PETROL FWD||$35,990|
|CX-3 6A STOURING DIESEL AWD||$35,240|
|CX-3 6A AKARI PETROL AWD||$37,490|
|CX-3 6A AKARI DIESEL AWD||$40,490|
Facts and Figures: 2018 Mazda CX 3 Midlife Update
- 0L four-cylinder petrol producing 111kW/192Nm
- 8L four-cylinder turbo diesel producing 85kW/270Nm
- Six-speed manual
- Six-speed automatic
- Warranty: 5/ unlimited km
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $23,990 drive away
Author: Alan Zurvas