Owner Review

2018 Mazda CX-3 Akari (AWD) review

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I downgraded from a 2017.5 CX-5 Maxx Sport to the 2018 CX-3 AWD petrol Akari, as I personally found the CX-5 a little too big for me.

I loved the features, driver ride height and comfort, though, so I thought the CX-3 Akari would fit the bill. An acceptable compromise on driver ride height (seat set at highest setting), but you still get comfort, the driver-assistance features I enjoyed in the CX-5, and a better overall size for me. How wrong could I have been.

My initial impressions were it had stunning outside looks, but looked cheap inside. Unfortunately, after I had already committed to buy I discovered that the CX-3 is made in Thailand, not Japan.

The CX-5's info’ system was easy to use, and while the CX-3's looks the same, it is different and difficult to navigate to find what you are after.

The supposedly 'Lux' leather seats are small, hard and uncomfortable. I don't see myself doing any long trips, even with lumbar support. I paid extra for the centre armrest/storage that improved the interior look, but the storage is tiny and a waste of $400.

Handling is toy-like unless you constantly have Sport mode on. Take-off is sluggish and powering up to overtake has to be worked up to. Three weeks in, I would have thought fuel economy might have improved, but it's still on 8.2L/100km. I was achieving this rating in my CX-5 with a 2.5-litre motor.

The CX-5 would 'talk' to me about things like speed cameras et cetera and beep if I was exceeding the speed limit. The CX-3 is all about differently toned beeps, which is very distracting while I'm trying to work out why it's beeping.

I thought I knew how to use things like rain-sensing wipers as the CX-5 also had them. Nope, the CX-3's driver-assistance items behave in a totally different way. Rain-sensing takes too long to activate, then takes forever to stop – to the point that I had to turn the wipers off (yes, I turned the sensitivity to minimum).

I'm feeling very ripped off, as the majority of things are a substantial downgrade and I forked out $6500 change-over for the privilege. Anyone considering a CX-3 should take it for a decent test drive or ideally borrow one for a few days, so you get a real feel for it to determine if it's right for you. To me, this car would suit my 20-year-old daughter, but not at $37K.

If Mazda put more thought into actual functional design – make it a little bit bigger/higher so a pram could fit in the boot and a primary school kid can sit comfortably in the back with a child seat (currently seats five, but I really don't see how) – improved the vehicle's performance to give it a little more go, and refined the info’ and driver-assistance tech, it would have a small SUV that would be difficult for other brands to beat.

As is, even after what I have read about the 2019 CX-3, Mazda has not improved enough and the vehicle is overpriced for what one gets. Bite the bullet, find an extra $5K and get the CX-5 – a vastly better SUV and it is made in Japan.