- Stylish design after all these years
- Engaging driving experience
- Good standard equipment
- Lack of digital speedometer
- Cramped rear seats and boot
- Short service intervals and expensive service costs
In recent years, compact SUVs have gained an unprecedented amount of popularity due to their ride height, relative affordability and small nature. One of the first to be offered in this segment was the Mazda CX-3 back in 2015. We decided to see if this small SUV has stood the test of time by testing the recently updated 2022 Mazda CX-3 Maxx Sport, the mid-spec and most popular CX-3 guise.
While the Mazda CX-3 has been around for seven years now a lot of its rivals are less than a few years old. These include the Toyota Yaris Cross, Hyundai Venue and the Kia Stonic. While these rivals may be newer on the market this isn’t to say that the Mazda CX-3 should be immediately taken off your list as Mazda has done a lot to update this compact SUV since its release. Let’s find out if the 2022 Mazda CX-3 has what it takes to come out on top.
Price & Equipment: 8/10
There are a total of six different 2022 Mazda CX-3 models with prices starting at $23,390 plus on-road costs for the entry level Neo Sport fitted with the standard manual transmission. The model we have here is the Maxx Sport, which sits above the Neo Sport. As tested – fitted with the automatic transmission – our CX-3 is $27,390 plus on-road costs (around $31,500 drive away). Compare this with the $24,390 price that the CX-3 Maxx would have cost new in 2015 and you can see that prices have risen a lot over the years.
The CX-3 Maxx Sport does have quite an extensive standard equipment list, which includes 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic halogen headlights, auto wipers, automatic climate control, push button start (but no keyless entry), electric-folding exterior mirrors, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, an 8.0-inch infotainment screen that’s both touch- and rotary dial-operated, satellite navigation, digital radio, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a six-speaker sound system, manual cloth seating, cruise control and a leather steering wheel and gear knob.
Safety features are also plentiful in the CX-3 Maxx Sport. It comes with six airbags, low-speed forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rear auto braking, tyre pressure monitoring, an electric handbrake and rear parking sensors with a reversing camera.
We do feel that the Maxx Sport variant of the 2022 Mazda CX-3 misses out on some key features which are adaptive cruise control, LED lighting, lane departure warning and lane keep assistance, a digital speedometer and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
The model above the CX-3 Maxx Sport is called the sTouring and adds larger 18-inch alloy wheels, auto-folding mirrors, LED lighting and daytime running lights, a partially digital driver’s display, half faux leather and cloth seating, keyless entry, driver attention detection, auto high beam, lane departure warning, front parking sensors and traffic sign recognition. We think this is well worth the additional $4,700 the over the Maxx Sport.
The only option available for the Mazda CX-3 is an all-wheel drive system, which adds $2,000 to the price and can only be had with the automatic transmission. The standard colours available are ‘Deep Crystal Blue Mica’, ‘Platinum Quartz’, ‘Jet Black Mica’, ‘Ceramic Metallic’ and our test car’s ‘Snowflake White Pearl Mica’ paintwork. Other colours available are ‘Polymetal Grey Metallic’, ‘Soul Red Crystal Metallic’ and ‘Machine Grey Metallic’ which all cost an additional $595.
Performance & Economy: 7/10
The engine that has been powering the Mazda CX-3 since its inception is a familiar 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder unit, which is also shared with the Mazda3 and Mazda CX-30. It is known as ‘SkyActiv-G’ and produces 110kW of power and 195Nm of torque. Gone is the diesel engine option, which was discontinued for the 2020 model year.
While the engine is getting a little long in the tooth, it is still rather good for the segment. It offers a good amount of power and great drivability. It is a little noisy at times, especially when rising in the rev range but thanks to its plentiful low end torque, you don’t need to rev it all that much. We do still like the 2.0-litre, especially in such a small package, it really livens the car up. The standard transmission option is an excellent six-speed manual, but the transmission we have here on our test car is the optional six-speed torque converter automatic. It is a smooth gearbox that does a fantastic job juggling the gears around town, it is also quick to kick down when power is needed.
The claimed average fuel consumption for the 2022 Mazda CX-3 Maxx Sport automatic is 6.3L/100km which is rather good for the class. We managed to get 7.5L/100km in mostly urban driving, which we were still happy with. This is down to the lack of weight (1,297kg) and start-stop system, which is a rarity in this segment. Out of the 48-litre fuel tank, expect to get around 650km between fill ups based on this consumption.
In comparison the Kia Stonic Sport, has a lethargic 1.4-litre four-cylinder that produces 74kW of power and 133Nm of torque (a full 36kW/62Nm less than CX-3) and also has a claimed average fuel consumption of 6.7L/100km. The Hyundai Venue Active has a 1.6-litre four-cylinder that produces 90kW of power and 151Nm (20kW/44Nm less than CX-3) and has a claimed average fuel consumption of 7.2L/100km. Compared with these rivals, the CX-3 is downright muscular.
Ride & Handling: 7/10
The ride on the 2022 Mazda CX-3 is typically Mazda – somewhat sporty, firmer than rivals but a pretty good option for driving fun in the segment. Unlike the locally tuned Venue and Stonic, which are both softer riding and more compliant, the CX-3’s short wheelbase can make the ride a touch busy but it’s never uncomfortable, nor too firm. It’s a nice compromise between fun and comfort, in our opinion.
To put it simply the Mazda CX-3 is the best handling smaller SUV on the market, this side of the superstar Ford Puma. The steering is rather heavy for the segment but what it lacks in ease at slow speeds it makes up for in feel in spirited driving. Road noise levels aren’t amazing, however, and visibility is pretty poor – thankfully the standard safety package is quite effective.
Interior & Practicality: 7/10
The interior of the Mazda CX-3 has remained largely unchanged since its introduction to the Australian market in 2015. While in the case of most cars this would be a bad thing, the CX-3 still has a presentable cabin for the segment with some nice materials and a nice layout – but it’s hardly roomy.
The materials used in the cabin of the 2022 Mazda CX-3 are adequate – there is quite a lot of hard plastic throughout the cabin, but there is a nice soft faux leather strip across the dash which adds some texture and style to the interior. The cloth on the seats of the CX-3 is rather coarse but not uncomfortable and the seats themselves are rather easy to adjust and get comfortable in.
The storage situation in the CX-3 is positive. There are reasonable door pockets, a generous glove box, a clever centre console that can offer two cup holders or one cup holder and a larger storage space. There is also a place to put your phone in front of the gear stick – though not a wireless charger.
The screen that sits atop the dash of the Mazda CX-3 is an 8.0-inch unit that includes satellite navigation, digital radio and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It is a touchscreen while the vehicle is stationary, but as soon as you set off the touchscreen disables and you have to use the joystick controller in the centre console to control the screen. It still uses Mazda’s old ‘MZD connect’ infotainment system which is more than adequate but the new ‘Mazda Connect’ system used in the Mazda3 would be beneficial here. The six-speaker sound system is okay but we would like to see more bass.
One drawback of the Mazda CX-3 is its lack of rear seat room as there is very little space back there for adults and should only be used for children – the Stonic and Venue are much more spacious. Even for sub-six footers, headroom and particularly kneeroom is quite tight. There are also not many features in the back seat – just a centre arm rest with cup holders, a single map pocket and small door pockets. The Venue definitely has more interior space than the CX-3.
Opening the boot of the CX-3 reveals 264-litres of cargo space with the rear seats in place, but folding them opens this up to 1,174L. There is a false boot floor, which is handy for storing items from prying eyes and a space saver spare wheel underneath the second floor. In comparison, the Kia Stonic has 332L/1,132L while the Hyundai Venue has 355L/903L, so the CX-3 is more comparable in this regard.
Service & Warranty: 7/10
Like all other new Mazda products, the 2022 Mazda CX-3 comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty which is pretty standard for the segment and the only car to do better is the Kia Stonic, which offers a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. There is also five years of roadside assistance.
The Mazda CX-3 requires being serviced every 12 months or 10,000km. The cost to service the CX-3 over the span of five years or 50,000km is $1,839 (an average service cost of $367.80). In comparison the Hyundai Venue will cost owners $1,575 over the span of five-years or 75,000km, the Kia Stonic over the same period will cost owners $1,958. So the CX-3 isn’t cheap to service by any means and with its short service intervals (other cars in the segment only need servicing every 12-months or 15,000km) it means it needs servicing more regularly.
2022 Mazda CX-3 Maxx Sport DiscoverAuto Rating: 7.2/10
The 2022 Mazda CX-3 sits in a market that is becoming overpopulated by all-new models. Being an old timer in the market you would think it can’t keep up with the new players but that isn’t the case. The CX-3 is still a good looking, easy to drive and engaging package that should be considered. It’s also got comfortably more engine than rivals, it drives well and we think it’s still quite handsome.
Would we shortlist the Mazda CX-3 if we were looking for a small SUV? Yes, we would. We agree that the service costs are too much and that it should be more spacious (good luck fitting even average sized adults in the back) but it is the best driving small SUV currently on sale and the interior design is still funky. Those wanting more space should check out the Hyundai Venue, but the CX-3 is still a great all-rounder in the small SUV segment.