Car Reviews

2017 Mazda CX-3 Review

Alex Rae’s 2017 Mazda CX-3 Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: Still relatively fresh, the 2017 CX-3 hasn’t changed much and rests on its laurels.

2017 Mazda CX-3

PRICING From $20,490+ORC WARRANTY three-years, unlimited kilometres SAFETY five star ANCAP ENGINE 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol; 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel POWER 109kW; 77kW TORQUE 192Nm; 270Nm TRANSMISSION six-speed automatic or manual DRIVE front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive DIMENSIONS 4275mm (L); 1765mm (W); 1550mm (H) BOOTSPACE 264 litres FUEL TANK 44L THIRST From 4.4-6.7L/100km (combined)

IT’S BEEN TWO years since the Mazda CX-3 launched in Australia and here we have its first refresh. You wouldn’t pick it from outside, or inside (except the steering wheel and speedometer is ever so different), because it’s pretty much business as usual. But is that such as bad thing? The CX-3 is the biggest volume selling small SUV under $40,000 and its design, which hasn’t changed, is consistent with the current crop of new models such as the CX-9 and CX-5.


Outselling rivals such as the Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan Qashqai and Honda HR-V, the CX-3 has been well received since it landed in 2015 thanks to its modern Kodo design language, and just two years on Mazda hasn’t had to lift the pen as it still looks sharp amongst the competition.

Head of Mazda product division, Minoru Takata elaborates on the lack of aesthetic update by saying it’s a matter of “avoiding changes for changes sake”. Fair enough. So instead we get some differences under the skin.

Mazda’s G-vectoring control is now standard across the range and it promises to improve dynamic ability and stability. GVC works by reducing engine power, when required, so that the vehicle shifts more weight over the front of the vehicle and is better balanced for improved cornering performance.

There has been a few other tweaks to handling too, including a redesigned bushing control arm (decreasing resistance by 40 per cent), tuning of dampers and tweaks to the rear multi-link bushing. All up, it should see the CX-3 handle sharper and provide a smoother ride.

Other enhancements include better NVH, improved engine sound and electric front seats with two memory positions.

But the headline is that the 2017 CX-3 leads its segment with the best standard of safety across the entire model range. All models now get Mazda’s smart city brake support, or autonomous electronic braking (AEB), which functions in both forward and reverse movements. It is standard from the base model Neo and sets a benchmark for some other manufacturers to follow… Curiously, a reverse camera is not standard in Neo and will set buyer’s back around $500 – a more common feature usually found standard.

Other safety features are: blind spot monitoring and rear cross safety alert standard on Maxx model; driver attention alert and traffic sign recognition on sTouring and Akari models; and, adaptive LED headlights and front parking sensors on Akari model.

All models are available with either a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol producing 109kW/192Nm or a 1.5-litre diesel turbo producing 77kW/270Nm. Both are available in a variety of front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and manual or automatic transmissions.

2017 Mazda CX-3 Pricing (+ORC):

2.0L Petrol


  • Manual FWD – $20,490
  • Auto FWD – $22,490


  • Manual FWD – $22,890
  • Auto FWD – $24,890
  • Auto AWD – $26,890


  • Manual FWD – $26,990
  • Auto FWD – $28,990
  • Auto AWD – $30,990


  • Manual FWD – $31,490
  • Auto FWD – $33,490
  • Auto AWD – $35,490

1.5L Diesel


Auto FWD – $27,290


Auto AWD – $33,390


Auto AWD – $37,890

What’s the interior like?

The CX-3 is based on the Mazda2 platform and isn’t particularly spacious inside. Main pinch points are width and second-row legroom, but upfront there was enough room to accommodate two six-foot tall guys. The driver’s seat has a good amount of adjustment available – although it doesn’t drop particularly low – and the steering wheel provides tilt-and-reach movement.

The interior presents well and, like the exterior, is consistent with Mazda’s latest products. Not much has changed from the previous model CX-3 though and it essentially feels the same. The 7.0-inch infotainment screen from the previous model carries over and there’s still no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity. The Mazda infotainment software is easy navigate and the centre console rotary dial and buttons saves fumbling on a touchscreen.

Up-front there’s also two USB ports for charging devices, two cup holders in the centre and one in each door.

In the second row there’s limited space and it is better suited to two or three kids rather than adults. The fabric seats in our test vehicle were comfortable front and rear but the rear doesn’t have as much padding as the front units.

The boot shows the most sacrifice of space, with a small 264 litres available (far less than the Honda HR-V’s 437 litres), but thankfully the rear seats split-fold 60:40 and increase space to 1174 litres. The boot opening doesn’t offer a great amount of width either, so loading a set of golf clubs in the boot would be a challenge. 

What’s it like on the road?

The launch route for the CX-3 wasn’t particularly long or varied so we didn’t get the chance to properly experience the enhancements from GVC or improved damper tuning, and we were only able to drive the automatic equipped 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol FWD.

During our time in the outer suburbs of Melbourne the CX-3 felt similar to its smaller sibling the Mazda2 and has a light and sharp ‘hatchback’ feel to its handling. Negotiating traffic is easier than larger SUVs, thanks to its small size, but it does also feel less substantial than its larger stablemates – if that’s your thing.

We really didn’t get an opportunity to feel the GVC working but the CX-3 retains its tight chassis and is capable of fun Sunday drives. The 2.0-litre petrol provides the most grunt and is probably money better saved if you don’t need diesel, although the diesel is the most frugal with a combined consumption of 4.4L/100km compared to the petrol’s 6.7L/100km.

The refreshed CX-3 engine apparently provides a nicer sound higher in the revs, but it’s hard to discern unless testing back-to-back. Improvements to NVH were equally hard to discern, but the CX-3 never had much of problem with it anyway.

What about safety features?

The CX-3 has a five star ANCAP rating and features autonomous electronic braking across the entire range as standard.

Other safety features, depending on grade, include: blind spot monitoring, rear cross safety alert, driver attention alert, traffic sign recognition, adaptive LED headlights and front parking sensors.

Why would you buy one?

The CX-3’s appealing styling and easy to drive feeling will continue to help its sales success. For small families there isn’t the space required to haul gear – unless you’re a Tetris master – but if you don’t need the space then the CX-3 provides a good level of safety from the base spec and has a well sorted interior.

Editor's Rating

What's the interior like?
What's it like on the road?
What about safety features?
Practical Motoring Says: Mazda didn't do much aesthetically in this update because they didn't really need to. The price remains competitive and the addition of AEB across the entire range is good to see, but the lack of boot space will put some off. It rides well and the engines are efficient, if a little uninspiring.

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Rye an
Rye an
6 years ago

All cars should be rated on how the suppress coarse chip bitumen noise.
How many drivers on long trips become tired because of it and drift off the road?.
Coarse chip is cheaper and longer lasting but what price a life?.
Many country roads don’t have any provisions for catnaps so quietness is important.

6 years ago
Reply to  Rye an

Good point, Rye an. This is something we’ve discussed with Mazda in the past; sure, Mazda isn’t the only car maker that struggles with NVH in this country. We’ll make a point of bringing attention to cars that we feel are a little ‘too’ noisy across coarse bitumen. – Isaac

Rye an
Rye an
6 years ago

Is there a noise cancelling device that could fix it?.

Galaxy Being
Galaxy Being
6 years ago

The boot size is whoeful, deal killer right there. Looks like Mazda has an issue with packaging.

Alex Rae

Alex Rae