Mazda CX-3 2017 review

Front side view of a metallic steel blue Mazda CX-3 2017 car in motion on a road

Liam McPhan

Posted August 16, 2017

RACV tests Mazda's refreshed small SUV, the CX-3.

Mazda didn’t need to reinvent the wheel with this update of the CX-3 only two years after its release. A formula of refinement and class-leading on-road ability had quickly made CX-3 the top-selling small SUV in the country, so Mazda has concentrated on improved safety and a greater sense of quality and driving pleasure.

The biggest advance is the inclusion of autonomous emergency braking – which Mazda calls Smart City Brake Support – across the CX-3 range, making it the first small SUV to have this advanced safety feature as standard. This upgraded version of the system works at up to 80km/h (previously 30km/h), and it also operates when the vehicle is in reverse.

Other safety systems are collected as you step up through the four-model range, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic-sign recognition, driver attention alert and lane-departure warning.


In this article

Choice of petrol or diesel

An upmarket feel

Good pickup

The verdict

Rear side view of a metallic steel blue Mazda CX-3 2017 car in motion on a road

Choice of petrol or diesel

Across the CX-3 variants – Neo, Maxx, sTouring and Akari – there’s a choice of petrol and diesel in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The default transmission is a six-speed auto, but front-wheel-drive petrol models get a six-speed manual option. Our test vehicle is the one Mazda believes will be the top-seller, the front-wheel-drive automatic petrol Maxx with an estimated on-road price of $28,470.

In Maxx, Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE safety package includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors.

Like many models of its size, CX-3 is missing a centre console armrest but this makes space for the surprisingly comfortable and intuitive multi-function commander control hub. The seven-inch display is at a height which allows you to keep an eye on the road but not so high that it becomes intrusive. Sat-nav is easy to use, and the 2017 update brings digital radio functionality. Connectivity features include Bluetooth mobile and audio, auxiliary and USB audio input, six speakers and integration with partnered apps, which all work well to improve the audio experience.


An upmarket feel

Quality plastics, carbon-fibre wrapping and a leather steering wheel and instrument cluster give CX-3 an upmarket feel which belies its price tag, but one aspect where a cost saving is noticeable is a flimsy seat-height adjuster.

CX-3 isn’t overly spacious in the back seats, but with enough room to slip your feet under the front seats it’s possible to fit two average-sized adults or three children without too much discomfort. There is plenty of headroom, and retractable headrests help to give the rear seats of the CX-3 a little extra comfort. ISOFIX seat anchorage points are present, with three tethers mounted on the rear of the seatbacks to accommodate a child seat in any position.

The boot is adequate given CX-3’s size, and the square shape gives it greater practicality. The floor can sit at two levels, the higher position allowing the rear seats to fold flush to accommodate long items. Underneath the floor is a steel space-saver spare wheel.


Interior view of the Mazda CX-3 2017 car showcasing the grey front and rear seats

Good pickup

Dynamically, the 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G petrol engine, which has a maximum output of 109kW, provides good off-the-line pickup. Switching into Sport mode tells the six-speed automatic transmission to hold a lower gear and increase torque output, giving CX-3 a bit more perkiness. Mazda’s i-Stop fuel-saving system is extremely responsive and at times the transition from taking your foot off the brake to the engine restarting felt completely seamless. Overall we averaged quite reasonable fuel consumption of 6.9L/100km.

After a full day on the road, CX-3 passed the seat test without showing any real signs of discomfort, and good side bolsters allowed the seat to keep you at one with the car when cornering. The SUV-esque ride height and open front windscreen typically gave good vision all round, with larger side mirrors to help eliminate blind spots. However, looking into some tighter bends the A-pillar created minor vision issues, especially when turning right.

Steering is both direct and responsive, making the CX-3 very enjoyable on twisting roads and exceedingly competent in urban environments. Handling can be more likened to a small car than an SUV, which is appropriate given most buyers will use it around town.


The verdict 

Mazda’s class-leading CX-3 has received a package of refinements which build on what was already a successful formula of quality and on-road ability. Significantly, it’s now the first small SUV in Australia to have both front and rear autonomous emergency braking as standard across all variants.


Mazda CX-3


$24,890 + $3580 (est) ORC. Soul Red colour $300. Range $20,490-$37,890.


ESC. ABS. 6 airbags. Autonomous emergency braking. Rear cross-traffic alert. Blind-spot monitor. Reversing camera/sensors. ISOFIX fittings.


Sat-nav. 7” full-colour touch-screen. Digital and internet radio. Bluetooth. AUX/USB input.

Vehicle features

Manual air-conditioning. Fully adjustable front seats. Cloth trim. 60/40 split-fold rear seats.

Driver features

Selectable driving modes. Fully adjustable steering. Keyless entry/start. Leather-wrapped steering wheel. Electric folding side mirrors.


Drivetrain: 1998cc, in-line 4cyl petrol engine. Front-wheel-drive. 6spd auto. 109kW@ 6000rpm, 192Nm@2800rpm.
Performance: 0-60km/h, 4.1 sec. 0-80, 6.3 sec. 0-100, 9.1 sec.
50-80, 3.5 sec. 60-100, 5.1 sec. 0-400m, 16.6 sec.
Stopping from 80km/h, 23.0m.
Fuel: 6.9L/100km (RACV test); 6.1L/100km (govt test). 48L tank. 91-RON petrol.
Wheels: 16” alloy, 215/60 R16 tyres. Steel space-saver spare.
Towing limits: 1200kg; 50kg towball load.
Environment: 146g/km CO2.


12-month/10,000km capped-price services. 3yr/unlimited km warranty.

RACV rating

✩✩✩✩ 1/2