Mazda CX-3 driven in Australia - Full report and new video

By HONG BOON HOW | 1 October 2015

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Built by the returning Australian servicemen of World War I, the Great Ocean Road is also touted as the world’s longest war memorial.

Besides a breathtaking sea view of Bass Strait, one can also see native Australian wildlife such as kangaroos and koalas, and the spectacular must-visit Twelve Apostles limestone stacks along this 243km-long road.

The Twelve Apostles limestone stacks.
The Twelve Apostles limestone stacks.

The eastern point of this coastal stretch starts from Torquay, which is 95km south west of Melbourne.

As Australia’s second largest city and one-time capital, Melbourne’s skyline is filled with steel and glass skyscrapers.

Although a modern city, the local authorities have done a fine job of preserving a number of heritage buildings to give Melbourne its distinctive looks.

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This lively cosmopolitan city of 4.5 million and its nearby Yarra Valley wine-producing region were the backdrop for our recent media test drive of the equally lively Mazda CX-3 compact crossover.

Said to embody the next generation Kodo - Soul of Motion styling, the CX-3 appears more intense and aggressive.

Key exterior looks include a bold face, side moulding, curvaceous body with high beltline and large 18-inch wheels.

Its LED head lamps are slim, casting an angry and menacing expression.

The black-out centre and rear pillars give the compact crossover a “floating roof” appearance which is avantgarde and innovative.

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Featuring the “Kodo – Soul of Motion” styling, the CX-3 comes with a bold face, side moulding, curvaceous body with high belt line and large wheels for an aggressive look.

During our 300km plus test drive from Melbourne city to the wine-producing region of Yarra Valley and back, the Australian CX-3 variant we drove came with a tad less powerful and torquey 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G petrol engine compared with the Malaysian model, producing 145PS and 192Nm.

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For our 300km plus test drive from Melbourne city to Yarra Valley and back, we got the CX-3 in the Akari trim line, the highest specification for Down Under.

Powering the CX-3 is a punchy 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G petrol direct injection engine with 146PS and 192Nm.

Transmission is a six-speed SkyActiv automatic with Sport and manual select mode.

Our unit was the front-wheel drive type although all-wheel drive variants are also sold in Australia.

Power comes in immediately with the transmission shifting gears smoothly.

The CX-3 feels refined on highways and twisty trunk roads, thanks to a front MacPherson strut and rear torsion beam suspension that has been tuned for firm handling.

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The ride on highways and twisty trunk roads feels refined thanks to a front MacPherson strut and rear torsion beam suspension that has been tuned for firm handling.

However, the CX-3 still has sufficient amount of comfort dialed in so rough roads can be driven on without much of the harshness being felt by the passengers.

Even when the CX-3 is taller than most sedans, the crossover’s bodyroll at fast corners is minimal and well controlled.

The planted feel of the CX-3 and its comfortable seats easily conspires to make you want to drive it till the last drop of fuel.

Good sound insulation and aerodynamics also resulted in a quiet drive at cruising speed.


At higher speeds, the 18-inch wheels will start to make their presence known although their noise levels are not intrusive.

Perhaps, a quieter set of tyres could be the fix for this.

If you drive slowly, the exhaust sounds muted and ordinary.

Rev the engine beyond 4,500rpm and a sporty note appears, making the driving experience thrilling and fun true to Mazda’s zoom zoom philosophy.


The electric power steering is nicely weighted to give smooth steering and feel.

Brakes bite well and are progressive.

These inspire confidence whenever you need to bring the CX-3 to a quick halt.

The i-Stop automatic idle engine stop feature feels smoother at engine restarts compared with those in earlier Mazda models.

Inside, the use of high-quality materials and well-thought out design gave the cabin an upscale appearance and ambiance.


The dashboard is similar to that of the Mazda2, featuring a 7.0-inch free standing colour monitor, circular air vents, and an instrument panel with a mix of analogue and digital displays.

Mazda officials with us at the test drive said the CX-3’s centre console and instrument panel came from the Mazda2.

We were also surprised when told by Mazda that the CX-3’s wing mirrors are similar to those used by the larger CX-5 sports utility vehicle.


While the CX-5 wing mirrors might appear a bit oversized for the CX-3, we did not mind this as they accorded us with good rearward visibility.

Though not as big as the CX-5, the CX-3 is still roomy enough for five persons.

Bootspace is 264 litres and can be increased to 1,174 litres if needed.

According to Mazda distributor for Malaysia, Bermaz Motors, the CX-3 will be available in Malaysia sometime next month.


The model for Malaysia will be completely imported from Japan and comes with front-wheel drive instead of all-wheel drive.

The logic is that all-wheel drive system is not necessary for light and compact crossovers.

The CX-3 model for Malaysia will get a more powerful 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G direct injection engine with 165PS and 210Nm of torque.

Among its features are the i-Stop, a sunroof, LED head lights and rear combination lamps, fog lamps, automatic head lights, rain sensing wipers, radio/CD player with Bluetooth connectivity, six speakers and a 7.0-inch central colour display with Command dial.


Other items include six airbags, dynamic stability control, sat-nav, reverse camera and sensors, head-up display, cruise control, half leather seats, paddle shifters, smart keyless start/go, and 18-inch wheels.

The CX-3’s tentative pricing is from RM130,000 to RM135,000, which seems to be on the high side, but this can be justified by the extra features and premium build quality.


From looks alone, the CX-3 has won some of its battles.

Its good driving performance and handling dynamics add a few more points to its score sheet.

The CX-3 is definitely a tempting buy for those wanting a smart-looking crossover with a high driving position and easy city manoeuvrability without the extra bulk of a full-size sports utility vehicle.

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