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2024 Mazda CX-3 review | CarExpert

Mazda has slimmed down its CX-3 range for 2024, but still offers a healthy line-up consisting of five trim levels.

All 2024 models now get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, power-folding mirrors, and windows that can be dropped from the key fob.

The Mazda CX-3 shares its underpinnings with the smaller Mazda 2 hatchback, which recently was also treated to an update. It doesn’t stray too far from its hatchback sibling, as both offer a city-sized package with reasonable fuel economy.

With an increase in ride height, black cladding around the bumpers, and the fashionable CX badge though, the CX-3 is courting SUV buyers instead of hatchback lovers like the 2.

The CX-3 debuted in 2016 globally, and the Mazda 2 it’s based on dates back to 2014. Most of its rivals are younger and now offer either a hybrid or more powerful engine.

Although it’s an old player in the segment, the Mazda CX-3 still outsells its rivals comfortably. Let’s find out why.

How does the Mazda CX-3 fare vs its competitors?

View a detailed breakdown of the Mazda CX-3 against similarly sized vehicles.

Mazda CX-3 cutout image



How much does the Mazda CX-3 G20 Evolve cost?

The Mazda CX-3 G20 Evolve is the mid-range variant within the line-up.

It has a price tag of $31,050 before on-road costs, which puts it closely in line with the Nissan Juke ST+ 2WD ($31,140) and the Toyota Yaris Cross GXL 2WD ($31,000).

The pricing is also within reach of larger models like the Hyundai Kona 2WD ($32,000) and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross ES ($31,490). The larger Mazda CX-30 is around $1940 more expensive to get into than the Evolve on test here.

Mazda CX-3 pricing:

  • 2024 Mazda CX-3 G20 Sport: $26,800
  • 2024 Mazda CX-3 G20 Pure: $29,300
  • 2024 Mazda CX-3 G20 Evolve: $31,050
  • 2024 Mazda CX-3 G20 Touring SP: $34,300
  • 2024 Mazda CX-3 G20 Akari: $38,620

All prices exclude on-road costs

What is the Mazda CX-3 G20 Evolve like on the inside?

The Mazda CX-3 G20 Evolve has a unique White Maztex leatherette and Tan Grand Luxe suede interior which looks great until it’s a rainy day and you realise your white upholstery isn’t going to stay white for very long.

The centre tunnel is all black besides the chrome bits from the climate controls, infotainment selector, and drive modes, and it feels sleek and modern despite the CX-3’s age.

There is room for one 600mL drink bottle ahead of the centre console but I did find the bottle rolls around sometimes during stop/start traffic.

The centre armrest is comfortable while driving, it feels soft and nice to touch. It’s a feature we really missed in the cheaper Mazda 2, so it’s good to see the CX-3 justify its higher price with a fuller feature list.

The leather-wrapped gearshift and steering wheel elevate the feel of the interior ever so slightly. The steering wheel itself adjusts for reach and tilt, while the front seats offer manual adjustment.

There is an adjustable headrest for the driver and front passenger, as well as seat back pockets for the second row.

Ahead of the steering wheel is a retractable head-up display which is taken from the Mazda 2. I didn’t have any issues with visibility during the day but the clunky retracting motion is noticeable when you turn the car on and off, and taller drivers in our team have complained about the lack of adjustability relative to a more modern projector system.

The air vents, climate controls, and infotainment display are straight out of a base Mazda 2, and make the car feel slightly cheap and outdated compared to its larger sibling, the CX-30.

The infotainment system features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with two USB-A ports, an SD card slot, and a 12-volt socket.

The Mazda 2 and CX-3 are the only vehicles in the range to still have the MZD Connect infotainment system.

I avoided the native system as much as I could because it felt clunky and outdated compared to Apple CarPlay. The rotary dial on the transmission tunnel also takes some getting used to for those who are used to touching a screen for an instant response.

Given the Mazda CX-3 is targeted at younger buyers who’ve grown up with lightning-quick phones and tablets in their hands, it’s a miss.

Down back, the second row is a little squishy for tall teenagers or adults, thanks to the small amount of space between the first and second rows. Legroom is tight.

I did try and fit a baby seat in here, and managed to fit an ultra-compact reversible car seat but unfortunately it left little room for the front passenger to travel comfortably. There are no air vents, nor are there USB ports back there.

Boot space is fairly limited. It has a 264-litre capacity which means there’s space for a grocery shop for one or two people, and perhaps your gym bag or a small carry bag;.

Besides the Suzuki Jimny and Ignis, the CX-3 has one of the smallest boot space capacities in its segment. The rear seats fold 60:40, and capacity increases to 1147L with the second row flat.

What’s under the bonnet?

The Mazda CX-3 is powered by a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine, developing 110kW of power at 6000rpm and 195Nm of torque at 2800rpm.

It’s now available exclusively with front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission. All models have idle stop/start technology.

The 2024 Mazda CX-3 uses 6.3L/100km on the combined cycle, we saw 7.3 litres per 100km on a week skewed to city driving. It runs on 91 RON regular unleaded fuel and has a 48L fuel tank.

How does the Mazda CX-3 G20 Evolve drive?

The CX-3 won’t blow you away with how it performs, but it has enough punch for life in the city.

If you’re the sort of driver who hates losing a traffic light drag race, it can feel sluggish off the lights – and the noise in the cabin makes it feel as though it’s working hard.

I had the car packed with luggage and three adults, and it just didn’t quite have the grunt to do it comfortably… which isn’t too surprising, given most CX-3 owners will spend most of their life within city limits.

In that context, the stop/start does work well and kicks in fairly quickly compared to some of its competitors. It also feels very normal, with no awkward jerks or gear changes when you’re cruising around town. There’s no learning curve here, it just does what you’d expect.

The engine does take a moment to quieten down on a cold start though, and when it’s being pushed towards its peak it does sound unsettled.

If you do want more punch, Kia and Volkswagen offer similarly-sized SUVs with turbocharged engines that can help scratch that itch.

The suspension feels good and feels well tuned for city driving, if you’re able to avoid the biggest, deepest potholes popping up on the roadworks-affected streets around our office.

We’ve always said the handling of the CX-3 is one of its highlights, and that remains the case with the 2024 model. It’s fun to drive, and makes zipping around tight city streets enjoyable instead of a chore. It also feels more planted and confident on the road, including on the highways, than the base Mazda 2 we drove recently.

If you plan to drive on the freeway as your daily commute, the CX-3 might not feel as strong compared to its rivals.
Although it’s planted and confident in the city, on the freeway I did find it was working hard to keep up with traffic when you come to a complete stop and need to hit high speeds in a short space of time.

One thing to note is the auto-hold function doesn’t stay on once you turn off the car. I hate keeping my foot on the brake during stop/start city traffic and I’m glad Mazda included the feature in the CX-3 as the Mazda 2 missed, but having to press the button every time seems redundant and frankly annoying.

The safety suite available in the CX-3 Evolve is well-equipped for drivers who are just starting out or those who have been on the road for years. The traffic sign recognition was responsive to changing traffic conditions and the blind-spot monitor is very helpful considering Mazda’s zoomed driver-side mirror can be off-putting sometimes.

What do you get?

There are five trim levels in the 2024 CX-3 range.

CX-3 G20 Sport highlights:

  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • Power-folding exterior mirrors
  • 8.0-inch infotainment screen
  • Wired Android Auto
  • Wireless, wired Apple CarPlay
  • 6-speaker sound system
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • Tilt and telescopic steering column adjustment
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Electric parking brake with auto hold
  • Keyless start
  • Air-conditioning
  • Cruise control
  • Power windows
  • 1 x 12V outlet

CX-3 G20 Pure adds:

  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Automatic LED headlights
  • Automatic high-beam
  • LED daytime running lights
  • Head-up display
  • Satellite navigation
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Climate control air-conditioning
  • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror

CX-3 G20 Evolve adds:

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Maztex leatherette/Grand Luxe suede upholstery

CX-3 G20 Touring SP adds:

  • Heated power-folding exterior mirrors
  • LED front fog lights
  • LED tail lights
  • Heated front seats
  • Leather/Grand Luxe suede upholstery
  • Power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment
  • Keyless entry

CX-3 G20 Akari adds:

  • Single-pane sunroof
  • Adaptive LED headlights
  • Leather upholstery
  • 7-speaker Bose sound system
  • 360-degree camera

Is the Mazda CX-3 G20 Evolve safe?

The Mazda CX-3 is currently unrated by safety authority ANCAP, as its five-star rating from 2015 has now expired.

All models come standard with the following safety equipment:

  • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
    • Forward, reverse
    • City speeds
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Front, front-side and curtain airbags
  • Reversing camera
  • Rear parking sensors

CX-3 G20 Pure adds:

  • Driver attention alert
  • Lane departure warning

CX-3 G20 Evolve adds:

CX-3 G20 Touring SP gets:

  • Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
  • AEB with Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
  • Forward collision warning
  • Traffic sign recognition

How much does the Mazda CX-3 G20 Evolve cost to run?

The Mazda CX-3 is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty and five years of roadside assistance.

Servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000km. The first five services are capped at $334, $526, $412, $526 and $334 respectively.

CarExpert’s Take on the Mazda CX-3 G20 Evolve

While the Mazda CX-3 remains king (or queen) of the light SUV segment sales charts, slowly rivals are creeping in with better powertrains, technology, and more space.

Although there are some great features in the mid-spec Evolve, it misses out on stuff like keyless entry, power seat adjustment, and heated front seats. With that in mind, the Pure is the better value pick.

It sits just below $30,000 before on-road costs, but all it misses relative to the Evolve are the white interior and fancy wheels.

There’s a lot of competition for the CX-3, and it’s starting to feel its age. Although it still looks good, inside and out, it’s not quite as dominant as its sales figures would have you believe.

It’s well worth a test drive, but know there are plenty of rivals worth test driving alongside it.

Click the images for the full gallery

BUY: Mazda CX-3
MORE: Everything Mazda CX-3

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