First drives with Darren Moody

While market competitors catch up, there has been no rest for Mazda, with the release of new improvements to the multi-award winning CX-3 package. 

The biggest change to the CX-3 is a new, bigger diesel engine. Increasing from 1.5L to 1.8L, the new power-plant delivers a noticeable 8kW increase in power to 85kW, while torque remains the same at 270Nm from 1600 to 2600rpm. Fuel consumption on the official combined cycle remains the same for the AWD auto at 5.1L/100km, while the FWD model decreased 0.1L/100km to 4.7L/100km. Power and torque from the 2.0L has increased by 1kW and 3Nm. Fuel economy remains similar, although Mazdas claim improvements in real-world driving economy.

From the outside there are no sheet metal changes. All models have a new grille, with sTouring and Akari grades featuring updated LED tail lights and redesigned 18” alloy wheels. Maxx Sport and above include some gloss highlights on the pillars and sTouring and Akari showcase some additional chrome on the bumpers. Inside, all models now have an electronic park brake with auto hill-hold, which has relocated the commander control system and now falls to hand better. The new, premium interior materials lift what was already a class-leading look and feel even further. The MZD connect infotainment system with 7” screen now extends to all models, but Apple Carplay and Android Auto still aren’t available. Mazda announced an upgrade will be available later this year to retro-fit all models, but no pricing has been provided at this point.

All models feature Mazda’s Smart City Brake front and rear autonomous emergency braking system. Maxx Sport and above include blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, with sTouring including LED headlights, fog lights, daytime running lights, head-up display, driver attention alert, front parking sensors and traffic sign recognition. The top of the line Akari includes the full suite, with radar cruise-control, 360 degree view monitor, adaptive LED headlights and lane departure warning.

You’re spoiled for choice with the CX-3 in terms of models, with petrol variants available in manual or auto transmission in front and all-wheel drive. The diesel models are only available as automatic but are available in front and all-wheel drive. For added peace of mind, Mazda also recently announced a move to a standard five-year warranty. Mazda has also initiated national drive-away pricing on the CX-3. The latest Neo Sport manual kicks the range off at an extremely competitive $23,990, with the range-topping Akari diesel AWD costing $40,490. For me, the value is in the sTouring auto FWD petrol at $30,740.