Mazda CX-3 (2015 – 2019) Review

Mazda CX-3 (2015 – 2019) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Mazda CX-3 is more fun to drive than most small SUVs, but it is not as roomy in the back as many rivals. It’s a strong choice as a used buy.

+Enjoyable and good to drive. Good quality interior finish. 2.0-litre petrol is smooth and economical.

-Cramped in the back. Small boot.

Insurance Groups are between 13–19
On average it achieves 87% of the official MPG figure

Mazda expanded its SUV offering in 2015 with the Mazda CX-3, which was a smaller car than the Mazda CX-5 but did not skimp on quality or driving fun. It was pitched as a premium option with an upmarket cabin, lots of standard kit and the option of AWD. Up against the likes of the dependable Honda HR-V, good-value Skoda Karoq and stylish Toyota CH-R, the Mazda has a lot to recommend it. Read on for our full Mazda CX-3 review.

At first sight, the Mazda CX-3 looks very much like the larger Mazda CX-5, but it is appreciably smaller, with bolder lines, sleeker headlights and a more prominent grille. Inside it is very much like the Mazda 2 of the same period, with a classy, neat dashboard layout and an abundance of quality materials.

There is a standard fit seven-inch touchscreen with a rotary controller for use on the move. It’s not as slick as the touchscreen system you’d find in a Volkswagen T-Roc, but it works well enough and means there’s no mess of buttons to clutter up the centre console.

The finish is good, with plush leather or suede inlays in the doors and on the dashboard, depending on trim level, while practicality is fine for a family.

There is plenty of legroom and enough headroom for all but the tallest passengers. A 350-litre boot is about average for the class, although it has the benefit of a false floor for hiding items out of sight.

Engines include a frugal 1.5-litre diesel (later changed to a 1.8-litre) and a 2.0-litre petrol, the top version with 150PS. All of the engines give the light Mazda CX-3 punchy performance, with plenty of pace to overtake slower traffic and gearing that gives a relaxed, quiet motorway cruise, notwithstanding a little wind noise around the large door mirrors.

But it’s on a country road where the Mazda CX-3 really shines, thanks to ample grip and lively steering. It’s a fun car on a back road, with suspension that blends a comfortable ride with impressive handling and body control.

For those who live out in the wilds, there is even an all-wheel-drive variant on offer for some extra traction in poor conditions.

You are not short of choice when it comes to used SUVs, but there is no doubt the Mazda CX-3 is one of the best small SUVs on sale. 

Looking for a second opinion? Why not read heycar’s Mazda CX-3 review?

Ask Honest John

Mazda CX-3 blocked heater matrix - will my warranty cover it?

"I have a Mazda CX-3, which I bought from new from a Mazda dealer. It has a full service history and 14,500 miles. As of the past few months the air conditioning is weak, and provides only lukewarm air. And the cold air is not really cold. The Mazda dealer has inspected it and they tell me the heat matrix (heat core) is blocked, and will need a flush at £590 labour (including VAT). They have also told me that this procedure might not be enough to solve the issue as the heat matrix might be blocked, in which case they will need to install a replacement heat matrix at £750 labour + approx £260 parts. I have an extended Mazda warranty, but apparently this will not cover any of these costs. It seems crazy to me that I am facing a bill of anything from £590 to £1,600 to fix an air-con malfunction in a relatively young car. "
You will need to check the terms and conditions of your warranty - it will tell you exactly what is/isn't covered by the policy. You may wish to complain to the policy provider if you feel the T&Cs of the document are vague or unfair. Or you can make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, should you want to take the matter further. You have rights for up to six years (five in Scotland) under the 2015 Consumer Rights Act. But you will need to prove the problem is linked to a manufacturing fault. This is very difficult to do on a five-year-old car. A blocked heater matrix is usually caused by rust and scale build-up. In rare cases, it is linked to the mixing of oil and coolant (which is serious). I would expect the garage to identify the cause.
Answered by Dan Powell

Does the Lexus CT have a smoother ride than the Mazda CX-3?

"I have tested a used Mazda CX-3 and like the car with the reservations that it is a bit noisy and the ride is a bit harsh. Would a Lexus CT have a better ride? "
The Lexus CT has stiff suspension to cope with the weight of its batteries, it's not known for its smooth ride.
Answered by Russell Campbell

I want to treat myself to a flashy, economical car for 10k. What do you suggest?

"I’m turning 50 this year and I figured I finally deserve a treat. I’ve decided to trade in (or scrap) my beloved, well-aged and slightly banged up 1.0-litre Nissan note. Please don’t judge me but now I just want a flashy car to cause some car envy. But it’s got to be gentle on the pocket. I don’t know much about cars other than driving it. I didn’t drive for many years (save the planet and cycle, that was me) but work needs must. I do enjoy driving and I’ve never had an accident, but I have a lack of confidence when it comes to parking, nighttime driving or in bad weather. I use the car for city commuting and some long-distance travel. I have in mind a budget of £10,000 for a used car. I’m hoping to get some suggestions on a car that might suit me. Preferably with low mileage and not over 10 years old."
No judgement here! The challenge will be finding a flashy car that won't cost a lot to run. An Audi A3 could be a good choice. It shares its mechanicals with a Volkswagen Golf, so shouldn't cost the earth, and it looks very classy. As a left-field alternative, consider a Mazda CX-3. It's a stylish crossover SUV that'll be easy to drive in the city. Stick a private plate on it and it's sure to impress the neighbours, too. As an aside, consider some driver training to boost your confidence. The Institute of Advanced Motorists provides courses that aren't expensive and very worthwhile.
Answered by Andrew Brady

Could you recommend a petrol SUV with a low boot lip?

"Unfortunately, our 1998 Toyota RAV4 has a slipping clutch and signs of rust. We're looking for a high-seated petrol SUV, preferably with a low boot lip so a dog can jump in. We like the looks of the Ford Ecosport (which I know you don't rate) and the Mazda CX-3. What would you recommend in this crowded market? It will be used mostly on local runs with the occasional longer trip. We have about £14,500 to spend. Thanks."
The Ford EcoSport has been heavily updated a few times. It might not be the best crossover in its class but examples from 2018 onwards are much better than earlier models. One of these will be in budget and will likely meet all your requirements. The CX-3 would be a good alternative, while we'd also recommend a Suzuki Vitara or a Honda HR-V.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Mazda CX-3 (2015 – 2019) cost?