Mazda is not one to be left behind. The new CX-3 mini-SUV may be launching well after the Holden Trax (see our review), Peugeot 2008 (review here), and Ford EcoSport, but the Japanese manufacturer now intends to drop into this booming segment with a real bang.
The CX-3 will drop on Australian roads early next year, starting around the $22,000 mark and working up to the early $30,000s for a fully-loaded diesel model, and, notably, with all-wheel-drive.
Key lessons have been learned from the ultra-popular, larger CX-5 – and, recognising the disappointing lack of refinement in competitors like the EcoSport, Mazda have bided their time with the CX-3. The result: it launches as the most sophisticated car in the segment; and, as arguably the best-looking of the bunch inside and out.
The dimensions have been kept compact, with the CX-3 almost half-a-metre shorter than the Mazda 3. The brand’s smallest crossover shares its platform with the smaller 2 city car, rather than the 3.
Mazda are telling us that the CX-3 is for “progressive customers who aspire to a trend-setting lifestyle at the cutting-edge of the post-modern age.” A lovely editorial, sure, but Mazda had to build this car. The small SUV segment is the fastest-growing in the Australian market.
Australia will be among the first countries to receive the baby Mazda crossover—and it sets itself apart immediately by offering all-wheel-drive as an option. The local and French competition are front-drivers only. Aspirations of off-roading are more marketing than reality—but it’s worked for the CX-5.
Equipment levels ought to be good: the CX-3 needs to meet both the Peugeot’s quality cabin materials, and the Holden’s solid infotainment system head on. We expect the mid-grade and top cars to get Mazda’s MZD-Connect screen with navigation, controlled through the Commander system by the shifter.
A petrol and a diesel will be offered to motivate the little truck: the 1.5-litre turbodiesel, producing 77kW and a hefty 270Nm will manage under 5L/100km on the combined cycle—but this efficiency will come at an extra cost. We’d guess about $2,000 more than the standard petrol—a two-litre, high compression unit pushing out 109kW and 192Nm. The petrol should drink in the low sixes, Mazda tell us.
None of the cars priced at the same level are dynamic superstars – and we expect the CX-3, heavily based on the new Mazda 2 hatch, to hold up the brand’s well-earned reputation for enjoyable handling. A new, lightweight ‘Skyactiv’ chassis has been developed just for the baby SUV.
Expect the manual to feature only at the base end of the range, with pricier models exclusively offered with the six-speed automatic.
We believe the Neo will be available with a broader safety package that will include additional airbags, and possibly a reversing camera at an additional cost. We firmly believe such items should be standard across the range: however, Mazda’s phrasing of the ‘availability’ of these items indicates they will not be.
Chasing Cars expects three models: a base Neo kicking off with an attractive price in the early $20,000s, a mid-grade that will likely be the value buy combining a mid-twenties price with more generous equipment levels, with a flagship model priced towards $30,000s. The diesel engine, and all-wheel-drive, will be significant options.
About Chasing cars
Chasing Cars reviews are 100% independent.
Because we are powered by Budget Direct Insurance, we don’t receive advertising or sales revenue from car manufacturers.
We’re truly independent – giving you Australia’s best car reviews.