Mazda CX-3 Akari a package that combines style, quality, compactness and big SUV-style visibility
Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) markets around the world are burgeoning, and as people are increasingly likely to take their SUV on a trip around town rather out bush, customers are demanding that their new purchase is to be more city rather than country focussed.
Manufacturers have responded accordingly with the latest generation of small SUVs- SUVs that are the size of a light hatch –if slightly bigger- but offer raised ride height, improved visibility and chunkier styling.
Mazda’s contribution to this segment is the new Mazda CX-3, a car that offers SUV visibility, all-wheel drive grip – dependent on the model-all in a car that is similar in size to a Mazda2.
What we like:
- Gorgeous interior
- Punchy and smooth diesel engine
- Road manners and manoeuvrability
Not so much:
- It’s not cheap
- Bizarre equipment omissions
- Lack of interior storage
- Tiny boot
Price and Equipment
The Mazda CX-3 range is complex and multi-layered. The line-up starts with the Mazda CX-3 Neo with front-wheel drive and a 2 litre petrol engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission through to the flagship Mazda CX-3 Akari with a 1.5 litre turbo-diesel, a six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, which we tested here.
The Akari is well equipped and features technology such as a heads up display, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, collision mitigation, satellite navigation along with Mazda’s MZD Connect infotainment system.
Unusually, front parking sensors were nowhere to be found.
The interior is also furnished with leather trim for a greater feeling of luxury. The CX-3 Akari diesel can be had for $37,690, plus respective on road costs.
The Mazda CX-3 range borrows much of its interior from the Mazda2, so there’s the asymmetrical but clever dashboard, tactile surfaces and a quality fit and finish.
The Mazda CX-3 Akari adds a fresh, vibrant and premium feel to the already modern interior architecture with cream leather, charcoal coloured alcantara trim and red highlights. There’s also a sporty large tachometer with an incorporated digital speedo that complement the ever-so handy heads up display which also displays satellite navigation instructions should the system be in use.
The satellite navigation system is one of many functions that forms Mazda’s MZD Connect infotainment system. The system also has internet applications such as Pandora and Stitcher and all information is presented on a clear graphical display. However, MZD Connect is primarily controlled by a large knob on the centre console.
While the design is clean and minimalistic, Mazda would be wise to add shortcut buttons as Mercedes-Benz has done with their COMAND set-up. Another bugbear of the CX-3 that is shared with its Mazda2 relative is the absence of a covered centre-console compartment, meaning the only oddment storage is the glovebox.
Visibility for the driver is excellent – all important for an SUV – and the front two passenger have acceptable head, leg and shoulder room and the seats they are perched upon are also quite comfortable, yet they miss out on seat heating and electric adjustment, which is a strange omission at this specification level and price point.
At the back things are a little cosier. Rear headroom is passable, but legroom is too tight and the only reprieve for the two outer passengers is that they are able to slide their feet underneath those high mounted front seats and there’s little chance of fitting three abreast.
The boot is on the small side too at 264 litres, but this extends to 1174 litres with the seats folded down.
Engine and Transmission
The 1.5 litre turbo diesel SKYACTIV engine fitted to some models in the CX-3 range develops 77kW @ 4000rpm and a healthy 270Nm @ 1600-2500rpm.
The broad powerband and healthy dollop of torque get the CX-3 moving along confidently and there’s more than enough grunt for swift overtaking if needed. The engine isn’t quiet though, and it is always clear from within the cabin that an oil burner lurks under the bonnet, although it is very smooth and no diesel vibrations can be felt.
Mazda claims an average fuel consumption figure of 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres, although we found 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres was more realistic, even with Mazda’s i-Stop start/stop technology.
On The Road
The Mazda’s CX-3’s road manners are a large part of its appeal. The steering is wonderfully sharp, almost sporty even and there’s virtually body roll, despite the increased ride height – all perfect qualities for battling city traffic.
The ride quality is good too, with a firm but comfortable ride that never lost is composition. All-wheel drive grip provides added surety in wet weather and even on the odd weekend adventure.
At night, those high discharge headlights are powerful, and there’s an automatic high-beam function.
The complete Mazda CX-3 range has been awarded a 5 star ANCAP safety rating. Anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, stability control and traction control are all standard, along with front, side and curtain airbags.
The Akari adds lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, emergency braking support and rear cross traffic alert.
All Mazdas are covered by a three year unlimited kilometre warranty.
Mazda CX-3 Akari Specs
Make and model: Mazda CX-3 Akari
Engine type: 1499cc, inline four-cylinder turbo diesel engine with DOHC.
Power: 77kW @ 4000rpm
Torque: 270Nm @ 1600-2500rpm
Transmission: six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Fuel consumption: 5.1 litres (combined)
Dimensions: 4275mm long, 1765mm wide, 1550mm high and 2570mm wheelbase
Steering: Electrically assisted Rack and pinion
Suspension: Front: MacPherson Strut Rear: Torsion Beam
Country of Origin: Japan