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Quick Specs
Make
Mazda
Model/Variant
CX-3 Maxx
Engine
2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Price
$22,390
Warranty
3 years/unlimited km
See the full specs Read the full review

So, where did you go on your date?

The other half and I went on a 200km trip to visit relatives, with some furniture shopping thrown in for good measure. At least one of those activities involves overpriced things and damage to my credit card...but we won't go there.

The drive route involved a mix of highway driving and a stint of tight shopping centre manoeuvring, a fitting route to test out Mazda's latest 'SUV' — and I use the 'SUV' term begrudgingly for a car like this.

Ideal first date?

Yes, I think this was the perfect drive route for the CX-3. Realistically, most buyers will use this car to commute around the city and occasionally go on longer treks.

My wife and I are in the correct demographic for a car like this. We're in our late 20s and have no kids. It's the type of car that in-betweeners like us will buy, because this age group wants to feel like they're driving a bigger SUV without actually doing so.

Hot or not?

I think it's a great looking car. Just like the Mazda 2 looks great, this builds on that styling increment and melds in parts of the CX-5 without looking overly large or demeaning — not that the CX-5 is either.

My wife especially liked the fact it was compact but had the appearance of a larger car. She also loved the MZD Connect colour touchscreen inside the cabin, but more on that later.

It's what's inside that counts, what do you think of the interior?

Generally, I think the interior is very well presented and bridges the gap between entry level and style. Things like MZD Connect give the interior a premium feel and one that is previously unseen in this segment.

There is plenty of room up front with storage cubbies strewn throughout the cabin. Rear leg room isn't great. In fact, we had a Honda HR-V in at the same time and it was remarkable to see just how much extra leg room is on offer in the HR-V. Equally, this space is rarely going to be used for those in the market for the CX-3.

The aspect of the interior I wasn't so pleased with was the quality of materials. There are elements of the interior that feel very cheap. I understand this isn't a range-topping small SUV, but there could be further focus placed on making it look and feel more premium.

Standout features?

There were two things that really stood out for me. The MZD Connect system is great. It's super easy to use and can be operated from a rotary dial in the centre of the cabin, or as a touchscreen when the car is stationary.

Additionally to this, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine under the bonnet is a pearler. It produces a respectable 109kW of power and 192Nm of torque. Given it weighs under 1200kg, there is plenty of zip to get through traffic. Our test car was mated to a six-speed manual gearbox that helps extract the most from this competent package.

Annoying habits?

Rear air vents. Seriously, Mazda, when will you understand that this is a huge point amongst buyers. I get the feeling some Mazda engineers or designers haven't spent much time in the back seat of a car on a hot Aussie summer day.

There needs to be a provision for rear seat cooling that keeps your back seat passengers happy.

Ready for a family?

Not quite. The back seats are not overly cavernous and the door aperture is quite narrow, meaning that getting car seats in and out can be a challenge at times.

The CX-5 would be better suited to young kids. But, the CX-3 really isn't intended to cater for that market, so I wouldn't consider it a big deal breaker. There are two ISOFIX seat anchor points available, just in case.

High maintenance?

Mazda three year warranty with unlimited kilometres is far from industry leading — in fact, it's four years short. This should be a consideration when buying a car like this. While Mazdas are generally reliable, an extra four years worth of warranty is added peace of mind.

Capped price yearly servicing starts from $280 and goes up to $307 in twelve month intervals. It's a pretty impressive proposition and is capped for the life of the car.

Any deal-breakers?

If it was me spending the money, I would head further up in the CX-3 range. The Maxx doesn't feel premium enough for my tastes (single zone climate control — and it's not even the automatic type, no automatic headlights and no automatic windscreen wipers). But, for that you will need to spend either $4600 for the sTouring, or a staggering $8900 extra for the top-spec Akari.

So, is it serious or just a one night stand?

For us, it's just a one night stand. While my wife and I both liked the CX-3 Maxx, we didn't love it. We would need to spend around $30,000 to get an upper-spec sTouring on the road, which is a lot of coin for a car based off the Mazda 2.

Keeping your options open?

Yes. If I was in the market for a car of this size, I would need to open my budget up above the $30,000 marker. In that price bracket we start moving into larger cars like the Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai ix35.

It's a tough call and depends entirely on how much you would like to spend.

If it's not for you, who would you recommend it to?

This is the perfect car for the buyer looking to upsize from the Mazda 2. It looks larger in appearance and gives you the flexibility of an 'SUV' without the SUV size penalty.






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