This is a review of the 2015 Mazda CX3 Akari Diesel AWD
Mazda has recently entered the crowded compact SUV market with the CX3, and even before arriving on our shores, it had high expectations.
It has plenty of competition including the Honda HRV, Holden Trax and Renault Captur. In the next six months both the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X will arrive.
Mazda has been successful in recent years with the 2, 3 and the CX5. Can the CX3 continue this trend?
The CX3 arrives with 4 grade levels, 2 different engines plus the choice of FWD or AWD. There's a 2.0 litre petrol and 1.5 diesel.
Today I'm reviewing the top-spec Akari diesel AWD.
The first thing you notice is how stylish and modern it is. From the great looking alloys to the LED day-time running lights, this car stands out from the crowd. It makes other small SUV's look dated.
The good news continues on the inside. The interior is classy. It's up there amongst the best of the Europeans.
The leather seats are comfortable, the buttons and knobs feel well made, and it comes with Mazda's great MZD system. There are some less than friendly audio and navigation systems on the market, but this isn't one of them.
The Sat-Nav is a breeze to use. It can be operated via the touchscreen or the commander control between the front seats, which is similar to BMW's I-drive. It fits perfectly in your left hand, and is quick to respond to your commands. The bluetooth synced easily to my phone, unlike some other manufacturers.
The Akari is also packed with technology, such as blind spot monitoring, active driving display, lane departure warning and high beam control. Initially I thought some of these safety features were just a gimmick, but they are actually quite useful. The high beam control is particularly handy for country trips.
The boot space isn't huge, but is adequate enough to fit a couple of medium-sized suitcases. It has a removable floor panel which can be used to increase boot space, or simply to hide things underneath.
The backseats will comfortably fit 2 adults providing decent legroom although tall passengers may feel a little cramped due to the sloping roofline. Those seeking more interior space and a bigger boot should consider the CX5.
Driving around town the CX3 feels zippy, is easy to park and is fun to drive. There is some turbo lag off the line, but the power delivery is smooth. The CX3 was never meant to be a sports car. After all, this diesel has only 77kw of power. The trade off for less power is fuel economy.
Around town I averaged 5.9l per 100kms which dropped to just
5.1l on a recent country trip.
Once out of the city, the diesel engine starts to shine.
With 270nm of torque the diesel both feels and sounds great, and there's enough power for overtaking when needed.
It also handles well. It has a sporty feel and the turn in is sharp. This chassis is well balanced, and there's very little understeer for an SUV. In fact if it wasn't for the slightly higher ride height, you could easily believe you were driving a hatchback.
Mazda has capped-price servicing across the range, which requires servicing every 10,000kms or 12 months.
The first 10,000km service for this diesel is $319, so it's reasonably priced.
There are a few gripes, but no car is perfect. A centre armrest would be handy. You can purchase one from the dealer, but this will set you back $410 and personally I felt it's over-priced.
It also should have electric and/or heated seats. For the top spec Akari, this should be standard. Both the higher spec models of the CX5 and 6 have this fitted, so why not the CX3.
These things are only minor flaws and something I suspect Mazda may fix on it's first upgrade.
The Akari does have some great features, but for those on a budget, the Maxx would be my suggestion.
The Maxx gives you a lot of tech including the 7 inch touchscreen, MZD connect, sat nav, reversing camera plus alloy wheels and is the cheapest model if you're seeking the diesel.
Overall, Mazda's first leap into the compact SUV market is commendable.
It's good looking and fun to drive, but also economical and full of great tech. If you're looking for a small SUV, I highly recommend you check out the CX3.