First introduced in 2015, The Mazda CX-3 has received quite a number of upgrades since its introduction. In its latest update, the front end has been revised with a wider to keep up with its bigger siblings and is now offered with a special edition that boasts plenty of quirks and features. The CX-3 is Mazda’s smallest offering in the compact crossover segment. Coming just below the weirdly named CX-30 and above them is the big family mover CX-5.
Engine: 2.0L four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol
Power: 115kW and 206 Nm of Torque
Transmission: 6-speed Automatic
Fuel consumption: 6.7L/100km (claimed)
Price: R 486,200
Compact and quirky, the CX-3 in its latest update boasts a wider and more pronounced front-end design, adopting the Japanese Kodo Soul design philosophy which has been carried to all the other models. It also features chrome bits, both on the lower section of the front and rear bumper, as well as door handles. while the black plastic cladding around the wheel arches and lower side door panels accentuate the overall rugged crossover look.
The CX-3 Ikari benefits from the following features as standard 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps, and Daytime running lights.
Minimalist and classy, the interior is a bit more exciting to look at than the proficient but bland alternatives VW T-cross, and also the mix of material used in the dash is very interesting with a few details to catch your attention such as the suede trim inserts and red-painted air-vents which adds quite a bit of character to the cabin. Besides that, you get a pretty clean and comfortable cabin filled with a mix of high-quality black plastic as well soft leather trims and comfortable seats that provide a more premium feel than its rivals.
La piece de resistance of the CX-3’s interior has to be the user-friendly and ergonomically designed infotainment system controls. We all know how distracting and dangerous it can be to operate/navigate through the infotainment system while driving right?
Well, Mazda has kept it pretty simple. Old school way, using a physical rotary dial helps you cycle through the menu and settings while keeping your eyes on the road. Strangely enough, the same system also offers touchscreen functionality but only when stationary or when doing maneuvers at speed below 10km/h. This system boasts both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard including two USB ports
Additional features included in the Special edition Ikari comprise a sunroof and an awesome BOSE sound system, with a subwoofer installed under the adjustable boot floor, which takes up quite a bit of space but I personally believe is worth sacrificing in exchange for the amazing sound quality.
Being based on the Mazda 2 hatchback, it is clear to note that the CX-3 isn’t the biggest offering in terms of cross-over. It offers a very comfortable and premium cabin space with the good perceived build quality. But due to its swooping roofline, the tight headroom and knee room make it hard to comfortably accommodate 3 adults at the same time. This will however be suitable for families with young children or for individuals below 1.80m of height.
Nevertheless, the rear bench does offer ISOFIX child seats anchorage points in the outer rear with a folding middle seat that turns into an armrest with two additional cupholders.
When it comes to safety, the Special Edition Ikari comes fitted standard with an emergency braking system that makes use of the front parking sensors to prevent any forward collision. This feature comes in pretty handy especially when driving in towns where you see pedestrians crossing roads without looking or even when other cars suddenly cross you or brake. other standard safety features include 7 airbags for the driver, passenger, Knee (driver), Curtain (front and rear), and side airbag. as well as ABS with EBD as well as a reverse-view camera with rear parking sensors.
The following features come exclusively fitted standard in the special edition Ikari.
- Hill Launch Assist (HLA)
- Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM)
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)
- Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
- Smart City Brake Support (front and rear)
- Driver Attention Alert (DAA)
Not all sweet and shiny here
One thing that stood out to me during my time with the CX-3 was its inability to self-lock when the car takes off, and the absence of a locking/unlocking button as well as the auto-unlock feature when the door handle is pulled from the inside.
While other manufacturers are going towards small capacity turbocharged engines, Mazda has kept it pretty simple by fitting the whole range with the same 2.0L four-cylinder naturally aspirated SkyActiv G engine. this engine develops 115kW and 206 N.m across the whole range, and is exclusively paired to a six-speed automatic transmission in the special edition Ikari. (6- manual transmission available on the Active and Dynamic derivative)
The engine and transmission combination works well with little to complain about, like the rough engine noise at the start and lower RPMs but performs well once settled down after driving for a few meters. During in-town drives and ´moderate driving style, the automatic gear changes feel smooth and barely noticeable. However, I found that during hard acceleration,(like overtaking maneuvers on the highway ) the transmission tends to be quite indecisive at selecting the right gear when downshifting to provide instant torque. It will often drop too low, which revs up the engine too high and this can be a bit frightening sometimes.
As for its ride quality, the cx-3 boasts a smooth and comfortable riding experience. It soaks up bumps and road imperfections with ease thanks to its soft front suspension setup. The rear suspension on the other hand is set up on the firmer side, thus making it a bit restless/shaky when going over speed bumps or potholes.
The CX-3 proved to be an overall great all-rounder for a compact SUV in its class. ticking all the right boxes, good perceived build quality, well equipped and comfortable cabin, and a stylish exterior look to match. While you might find a more practical crossover at this price point, the CX-3 Ikari does offer a much more premium and compelling package, representing a good value for money and suitable for a young family or style-minded individuals who are not solely focused on practicality.
The Mazda CX-3 range Is priced as follow
Mazda CX-3 2.0L Active 6MT R 358,900
Mazda CX-3 2.0L Active 6AT R 379,400
Mazda CX-3 2.0L Dynamic 6MT R 392,400
Mazda CX-3 2.0L Dynamic 6AT R 406,800
Mazda CX-3 2.0L Individual 6AT R 466,900
Mazda CX-3 2.0L Hikari 6AT R 486,200 (Tested)