Mazda CX-3 Review: cool and compact


The CX-3 embodies Mazda’s KODO-design, which is inspired by the “moment when energy bursts into motion” – doesn’t that sounds beautiful? You can see it in the CX-3’s long(ish) nose that seems to be bending down towards the earth and its round behind. If you look at the entire car and keep this in mind, the CX-3 looks like an animal ready to pounce!

The black grille with a big Mazda-emblem immediately draws attention. The grille is surrounded by a chrome finish that flows into the narrow headlamps of the car. The line-features used in the exterior design creates movement and makes the whole body seem connected.

The contrasting black finishing around the wheel arches buffs the car up a bit and makes it appear more muscular. The CX-3 is actually not a very big car. It’s a little bigger than a hatchback and only has slightly better ground clearance.


The interior is clean and well designed, which makes for a great combination. It’s just nice to look at! The materials feel high quality, durable and not too plasticky. My test car had some nice suede-ish and leather finishing which I loved!

The CX-3 has three jet-engine-shaped air vents with red accents, and one normal shaped air vent, which looked weird at first, but it I decided I like it. You won’t find too many buttons crowding the centre console, they can all be found near the gear leaver – which makes a lot of sense since that’s where the driver’s hands will be most of the time.

The only thing I didn’t like about the interior, and it’s petty, is the controls for the aircon. It just looks a bit boring and outdated compared to the rest of the fresh interior.

The legroom in the back of the car is decent. It might be a bit tight when three people have to sit on the backseat. For small families it should be great though – it fits a baby seat perfectly! A cool little feature in the back is the USB-ports hidden in the armrest!

The boot is pretty small for a compact SUV, which is a bit of a downside to the car. Especially because when you’re buying a compact SUV you expect a bigger boot.


Engine & Ride

I had the 2.0-litre Individual Auto model, which produces 115kW of power and 206Nm of torque. It has a naturally aspirated petrol engine which is mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. I didn’t find the engine to be very exciting, but the CX-3 never lacked power when I needed it.

On paper the engine looks impressive compared to its rivals. But most of its rivals has turbopetrol or diesel engines, which will make them more fun to drive. Nonetheless the CX-3’s engine doesn’t dissapoint, especially on longer drives.



MZD Connect Infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen

– Cruise Control

– Reverse parking sensors and camera

– Head-Up display (HUD)

– Blind Spot Monitoring

– Keyless entry & Push-To-Start

– 7-speaker Bose Sound System

– Gear shift paddes



The Mazda CX-3 range starts at R311 500 with the 2.0-litre Dynamic. I tested the 2.0-litre Individual Auto, which is almost top of the range, and it retails at R405 100. Personally I feel like that is a little expensive for what you get. When looking at rivals to the CX-3, like the VW T-Cross or Ford EcoSport, you can get a very well spec’d compact SUV for less.

The CX-3 is a sporty, well designed and comfortable compact SUV. It has some cool features that makes the drive a breeze. This is definitely a car to consider, but I think that Mazda will need to start thinking about upgrading the infotainment system and maybe do something about the small boot!

Martin Gouws
Martin Gouws

Car Editor

Martin is a TV production person and has been working in the Afrikaans TV industry for 5 years on a number of different productions. He also has a love for cars and has recently started doing his own video car reviews under the name HeyGouwsie! He has a natural creative streak and an eye for details which makes for a great combination.

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