Head to Head: Subaru XV Vs Mazda CX-3
What’s the interior like in the CX-3 and XV?
Starting with the CX-3 and the differences are apparent when you start climbing in and out of the front and back seats. The CX-3 is based on the Mazda2 platform and isn’t particularly spacious inside. The main pinch points are width and second-row legroom, but upfront there’s enough room to accommodate two adults with enough room in the back for adults to sit comfortably on shorter drives. The driver’s seat has a good amount of adjustment available – although it doesn’t drop particularly low (to maintain that SUV high driving position) – 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 but does mean you have to look away from the road until you get used to how it works… although, using a dial with one hand and looking at the screen and trying to drive the car at the same time could still be considered too distracting.
The interior of the XV follows in the footsteps of its Impreza sibling with the key difference being (from mid-spec variants up) the bright orange contrast stitching on the seats, dashboard, steering wheel, centre console lid, and gear shifter boot, and the X-Mode and hill descent control buttons just below the transmission shifter on the centre console.
The dashboard layout is typical Subaru (read, functional and easy to read) and almost identical to the Impreza. This means you get a small storage space at the base of the centre stack which can be used to hold your phone and other odds and ends; there are two 12V/120W outlets and two USB ports (only one for the entry model) in the front of the car but none in the back.
The infotainment system in the XV trumps the CX-3 for usability and connectivity, getting both native sat-nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. There are shortcut buttons on the side of the 8.0-inch screen (6.5-inch in the entry XV) which are easier to use than the CX-3’s rotary dial.
The XV 2.0i-S offers driver’s side electric front seat adjustment (eight-way) and manual passenger side adjustment, all other variants are manual adjustment only. The front seats are comfortable for long haul driving and while they feel quite broad initially they’re grippy and supportive enough for when the corners start appearing or the terrain becomes bumpy.
Move into the back of the XV and there’s plenty of room for two adults to sit comfortably; the middle seat is shaped more like a perch and the transmission tunnel robs foot and legroom, meaning it wouldn’t be a super comfortable place to be for any length of time. There are ISOFX mounts for the two outboard seats and top tether anchor for all three seats across the back of the seats. There are no rear air vents regardless of the variant, but there are small vents under the front seats that move air into the back of the car.