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The use of a 1.5-litre engine in the Mazda CX-3 means the little crossover now has an added frugal edge to go with its already wide breadth of abilities.

01 Jul 2021


From electronics to bonsais and kaisekis, the Japanese undoubtedly have a knack for downsizing things.

And they have done it again with their little Mazda CX-3, now available here with a downsized 1.5-litre engine. But does that automatically make this CX-3, like the other items that get the miniaturisation treatment, a high-quality product?

Little engine

The 114bhp 1.5-litre Skyactiv engine gives the CX-3 surprising perkiness and reasonable refinement
It looks to be the case. For a start, just like that dollop of wasabi that you get with your sushi, the engine in the Mazda CX-3 proves that you don't need a lot of mass to pack a strong punch.

It is quiet and refined when driving around town, only allowing the slightest of vibrations to permeate into the cabin.

And Mazda's i-stop engine start/stop system likewise only produces the slightest of tremors, aiding to bump the car's fuel economy up to an impressive 14km/L as tested.

A naturally aspirated 1.5-litre unit may seem a little lacking in an age when either turbocharging or mild hybridisation is the norm, but in practice the CX-3 never feels anemic, even if you do opt to push the car hard, thanks to its low 1,256kg weight, and a six-speed automatic that is willing to execute downshifts with every kick of the accelerator pedal.

Sizable car

Rear passengers will have more than enough headroom, but might be wanting for more leg room on longer journeys
And the good news doesn't end with the engine. This CX-3 might be Mazda's smallest crossover, but spending time the cabin of one certainly doesn't feel like booking into a capsule hotel.

Foot and head room are generous by supermini standards for all passengers, with knee room being sufficient for those at the rear.

Drivers will also be glad to note that this 'Elegance' spec CX-3 comes with a leather steering wheel that adjusts for height and reach.

And adding to the ease of finding a comfortable position is an electronically adjustable driver's seat, complete with two memory settings and lumbar adjustment.

Round air-con vents and cloth accents on the dashboard and doors do much to lift the ambience in the cabin
All, however, will also be able to appreciate the CX-3's comfortable ride, which does a fine job of shielding those aboard away from the sharpest edges on the road. It can get a little wobbly in here when driving over pockmarked surfaces, but that can be easily excused given the car's short wheelbase.

Boot capacity, at 240-litres in the CX-3, does not fare favorably against the 352-litre rear of the slightly smaller Kia Stonic, but is still sufficient for everyday marketing trips and the like.

I'd recommend you leave the parcel shelf at home for easier loading and unloading here.

Big value

The Mazda CX-3 goes big on value despite its compact size
And if its is big value you are looking for in your miniature product, the CX-3 will deliver as well.

This 'Elegance' variant may be asking for $7,000 more than the base 'Classic' variant, but is loaded with plenty of features. There are LED lights front and back, a blind spot monitoring system, navigation, a head-up display, and a 360-degree monitoring system - all items that you'd typically only expect out of a larger vehicle.

Bigger deal

At $108,888 (price as of 29 June 2021), this Mazda CX-3 might be asking for a fair bit more on top of its likely rival, the also recently announced mild hybrid Kia Stonic, but it is still a well-rounded package that will now net you a few extra dollars in savings when the (road) tax collector visits as well, proving that the Japanese still know how to make small things great.

Car Information

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Promotion
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Price

: $113,888

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve DOHC SKYACTIV-G

Engine Cap

:

1496cc

Horsepower

:

85kW (114 bhp) / 6000 rpm

Torque

:

149 Nm / 4000 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A) SKYACTIV-DRIVE

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

11.2sec

Top Speed

:

175km/h

Fuel consumption

:

14.9km/L

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car review  mazda  mazda cx-3  cx-3  1.5-litre  crossover  engine  skyactiv  facelift