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Mazda CX-3 diesel 2019 review: Maxx Sport

EXPERT RATING
7.4
The new CX-3 brings a few detailed changes, a bigger diesel engine and a few little tech highlights to pique my and, Mazda hopes, your interest in this very little beauty.

I've never really understood the phrase "the devil is in the details" - it seems absurd that Beelzebub lurks in the spec sheets I pore over for each review. When I'm writing about a new model year Mazda, the details are important - from new seat foam, to a repositioned MZD controller, every little bit adds up. And none of them has yet slyly asked for my soul in exchange for wealth.

The MY19 CX-3 diesel brings a few detailed changes, a bigger diesel engine and a few little tech highlights to pique my and, Mazda hopes, your interest.

Mazda CX-3 2019: MAXX SPORT (FWD)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.3L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$26,200

Is there anything interesting about its design?  8/10

The CX-3 is a looker. The last two yearly updates have included tweaks and this year there's a new grille and a few gloss black elements to sharpen thing s up a bit. It really still looks pretty good nearly four years after launch and I just wish the new finish on the alloy wheels wasn't so cheap-looking.

  • The last updates have included tweaks, and this year there's a new grille and a few gloss black elements to sharpen things up. The last updates have included tweaks, and this year there's a new grille and a few gloss black elements to sharpen things up.
  • The CX-3 still looks pretty good nearly four years after launch. The CX-3 still looks pretty good nearly four years after launch.

Inside is largely the same as the Mazda2, which is to say very good if a bit dark - it's grey with little to break it up. There is a new central-console design - Mazda took the opportunity afforded by fitting an electric parking brake on all CX-3s to redo the console and add an armrest. I still don't like the dashboard layout but it is crisper and easier to read than earlier models.

How practical is the space inside?  6/10

It's no secret that the CX-3's Mazda2 underpinnings make it the smallest car in the class and that's reflected all through the cabin. From the smallest boot at 264 litres (slightly bigger than the 2's) and a tight back seat, you're not luxuriating in splendour as you might in the Honda HR-V.

  • It's no secret that the CX-3's Mazda2 underpinnings make it the smallest car in the class and that's reflected all through the cabin. It's no secret that the CX-3's Mazda2 underpinnings make it the smallest car in the class and that's reflected all through the cabin.
  • Rear-seat dwellers aren't going to be too keen if they're over about five-foot tall. Rear-seat dwellers aren't going to be too keen if they're over about five-foot tall.

Rear-seat dwellers aren't going to be too keen if they're over about five-foot tall. This is probably the only downside to using the 2 as a basis for a compact SUV - it's a damn fine small car, but there's no getting away from the "small" bit.

I can't say I'm a big fan of the redesigned centre console, but my 20-year-old self would shower me with rotten tomatoes for my reasoning. The new cupholders aren't really up to the job and the removable one - the one that can actually hold a standard take-away coffee cup - feels unbelievably flimsy in the hand. It's a bit of a mystery how this design passed muster, it's almost Renault-like in its self-defeating accomplishment. You do get an armrest, though, so it's not all doom and gloom.

  • From the smallest boot at 264 litres and a tight back seat, you're not luxuriating in splendour as you might in the Honda HR-V. From the smallest boot at 264 litres and a tight back seat, you're not luxuriating in splendour as you might in the Honda HR-V.
  • Fold down the rear seats and the boot space grows to 1174L (VDA). Fold down the rear seats and the boot space grows to 1174L (VDA).
  • The CX-3 comes with a temporary space-saver spare wheel. The CX-3 comes with a temporary space-saver spare wheel.

The new rear armrest does have cupholders though (finally!) and there are four bottle holders. The tray under the HVAC controls is good for even a big phone, though, and has two USB ports.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?  7/10

The Maxx Sport is the second trim level and the diesel is the most expensive at $29,990, $2500 more than the Maxx Sport auto petrol. If you're interested, there are 14 distinct models in the CX-3 range. There's a detail for you.

The new 8.0-inch screen for MZD Connect is quite fetching and banishes my complaint of being a bit indistinct. The new 8.0-inch screen for MZD Connect is quite fetching and banishes my complaint of being a bit indistinct.

Standard features include 16-inch alloys, six-speaker stereo, climate control, reversing camera, keyless-entry and start, rear parking sensors, sat nav, auto wipers and headlights, leather shifter and steering wheel, folding power door mirrors and a space-saver spare.

The new 8.0-inch screen for MZD Connect is quite fetching and banishes my complaint of being a bit indistinct. The system includes a basic sat nav, DAB+ radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Apple CarPlay is available as a retrofit for $494 and will inevitably come as standard soon.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?  7/10

For the MY19, the diesel engine is now a stonking 1.8-litres, up from the previous 1.5. That 20 percent increase in capacity has delivered...er...not very much. Power is now 85kW (at 4000rpm, which is high for a diesel) and torque the same 270Nm at a calmer 1600-2600rpm.

The new diesel engine has had a good going over with redesigned cooling, combustion chambers, cooling system and even has something called a Natural Sound Smoother which, I imagine, kills the clatter. The combustion chamber is egg-shaped. Another fun detail for you.

As with the petrol, the 1.8-litre diesel has stop-start to help cut fuel usage. As with the petrol, the 1.8-litre diesel has stop-start to help cut fuel usage.

That power figure is 8kW higher, which is a 10 percent jump. As before it drives the front wheels - or all four wheels if you so choose - through a six-speed automatic. As with the petrol, the diesel has stop-start to help cut fuel usage.

How much fuel does it consume?  7/10

Mazda's official combined cycle figure is 4.7L/100km, which is pretty impressive. What's more impressive is that it could even be achievable.

My week with the Maxx Sport gave me an indicated 6.9L/100km in almost exclusively urban running, and I wasn't at all worrying about fuel consumption.

What's it like to drive?  8/10

Still good, if slightly better. Once again, Mazda has attended to the tiny details to make the CX-3 a more interesting car to drive. With remapped electric power steering and tweaked suspension, the Mazda remains at or near the top of its class.

I have always quite liked the CX-3's balance of ride and handling. It's not particularly high-riding the way some other compact SUVs are, so body roll is minimal and generally easygoing. Only the torsion beams of the rear suspension cause any concern, skipping over sharp speed bumps and upsetting the rear ride over choppy surfaces.

In the gears it's pretty good, meaning relaxed overtaking. In the gears it's pretty good, meaning relaxed overtaking.

The new diesel engine is a bit more drivable. The larger capacity seems to have made it a bit more relaxed while giving the turbo a bit more to get spinning with.

My wife complained that it was very slow but once we worked out that it needs a good prod on the throttle to get over the initial turbo lag, the CX-3 got moving. In the gears it's pretty good, meaning relaxed overtaking and a good surge if you're being ambitious in traffic. Just don't get too excited at T-junctions.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?  8/10

Mazda has always been the safety leader in this segment and the updated CX-3 now includes a reversing camera in all grades. The CX-3 has six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward and reverse AEB, reverse cross traffic alert, blind-spot monitor and brake assist.

There are also three top-tether baby seat anchors and two ISOFIX points in the outboard seats.

The CX-3 was awarded a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in September 2015.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?  8/10

Not long ago, Mazda was fiercely defending its three-year warranty (they all did) but it has wisely shifted to five years/unlimited kilometres. Roadside assist is available at around $90 a year.

Irritatingly, the service intervals are still on the low-ish side at 12 months/10,000km. Capped-price servicing does at least take edge off that, costing either $322 or $393 across the five services included in the program. The website also kindly reminds you that every two years you need new brake fluid at an additional $65 and a new cabin air filter every 40,000km for $86.

Pricing Guides

$31,080
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$22,260
Highest Price
$39,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Akari (AWD) 1.8L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $39,900 2019 Mazda CX-3 2019 Akari (AWD) Pricing and Specs
Akari (AWD) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $37,500 2019 Mazda CX-3 2019 Akari (AWD) Pricing and Specs
Akari (FWD) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $35,500 2019 Mazda CX-3 2019 Akari (FWD) Pricing and Specs
Akari (FWD) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $33,500 2019 Mazda CX-3 2019 Akari (FWD) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.4
Price and features7
Design8
Practicality6
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety8
Ownership8
Driving8

“The MY19 CX-3 is the same but different. While the engine changes are less apparent on the 2.0 petrols, the new diesel is a bit more appealing. The MY19 changes don't transform the CX-3, but it doesn't need that level of change. Little things like better seat foam, a better spot for the MZD controller and the tweaks to steering and suspension mean the smallest compact SUV in this segment is still one of the best.”

Can you look past the tight rear seat and dud new cupholders? Is the new diesel enough to tempt you from a petrol? Tell us what you think in the comments.