2016 Mazda CX-3 Maxx Review: Long-term report five

Rating: 8.0
$24,390 Mrlp
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After multiple itineraries featuring weekend getaways, we put the Mazda CX-3 Maxx to the test in its most likely natural environment, the urban jungle. So how did it stack up?
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Since lobbing in the CarAdvice garage in January, our Soul Red Mazda CX-3 Maxx compact SUV has become a firm favourite, serving purposefully as our office runabout during the week and doubling up nicely as a weekend warrior. We’ve trekked far and wide in the little soft-roader, racking up plenty of trouble-free clicks.

But while weekend getaways to the Hunter Valley and the south coast of NSW are fine and dandy, the CX-3 hasn’t spent a weekend serving as, let’s be honest, what it was designed to do: an inner-city assault vehicle. That’s why we decided to put it to the test in what can only be considered the Mission from Hell – an IKEA run.

The challenge? Purchase a flat-packed single bed and mattress to see if our compact SUV has the space and comfort to deliver said purchase to its final destination.

An IKEA run can be high risk. If you don’t do your research, you can easily be left in the urban jungle of the Swedish furniture chain’s giant carpark looking like a fool as you try to stuff oversized packaging into the confines of a car not quite up to the challenge. It’s like a giant game of real-life Tetris. That’s why it pays to do some research.

In this instance, research means grabbing a tape measure, folding down the CX-3’s comfy and quite spacious rear seats, and measuring the available space. With the front passenger seat extended to its most forward position, the little Mazda came in it at a touch under 180cm of available length. Hmm. A little touch-and-go. A quick jump onto the IKEA website confirms the bed of choice comes flat-packed in two packages, one measuring a svelte 18cm x 92cm, so no worries there; the other a heftier 63cm x 204cm. With just 180cm of usable length in the rear of the CX-3, this was clearly going to be a no-go.

Mazda claims a rear capacity of 1174 litres with the rear seats folded down (up from 264 litres with the seats in place). That’s fine for lugging 1174 cartons of milk, but when length, not volume, is the key measure for this challenge, our little CX-3 was never going to measure up. Mission from Hell aborted. Thankfully.

To be fair, that’s not the fault of the CX-3. Instead, blame for its shortcoming lies entirely on my over-ambitious shoulders in, somewhat wishfully, thinking I could squeeze a two-metre long bed into a compact SUV.

While the IKEA mission was scrapped (let’s be honest, who amongst us enjoys spending a Saturday morning at Sweden’s answer to a torture chamber?), the CX-3 was called on for other, only marginally less annoying inner-city tests of its character.

First stop, the polling booth to exercise our democratic right – and privilege – to vote for who we think should lead the country for the next three years. The polling booth can be a minefield, with crowds of people surging to cast their vote while dodging an army of ideologues handing out ‘How To Vote’ cards for their respective candidates. No surprise, then, that parking space outside a polling booth is at a premium. With the waft of the ubiquitous and now traditional sausage sizzle flavouring the air and urging us on, the little CX-3 slotted nicely into a small car spot, the kind that an army of larger SUVs are simply not equipped to handle. Being compact has its benefits.

While the CX-3 may not have had the hauling capacity to cope with a 204cm-long single bed, it did manage to haul some gear around the ‘hood when eagle-eyed Emily spotted a vintage park bench for sale in one of the numerous junk, err ‘antique’ shops, that line our main street. No problems. A quick stop, a simple pop of the hatch and, with the rear seats folded down, in it slid easily and comfortably to make a nice addition to backyard.

Driving the CX-3 around town in the stop-start nature of inner-city traffic wasn’t the most engaging of drives. The little Mazda sounded whiny at lower speeds, almost as if it was trying too hard to find some mumbo. But once it reached a stretch of clear road where the speed limit exceeded 70km/h, the little CX-3 positively purred along. The CX-3 was certainly happier on highway driving than when negotiating traffic jams.

Overall, while Mazda’s compact SUV didn’t measure up to the IKEA challenge we threw its way, we’re realistic enough to know it was never really going to (perhaps Mazda’s flagship, the CX-9, might have been more appropriate). That said, it performed admirably as an inner city, urban warrior: nimble and zippy (if not a little revvy) and small enough to negotiate the tightest parking spaces. And that’s, after all, what it was designed for. Mission accomplished.

2016 Mazda CX-3 Maxx

Date acquired: January 2016
Odometer reading: 9161km
Travel since previous update: 1175km
Consumption since previous update: 6.9L/100km