Review - 2021 Mazda CX-3

By Alexi Falson on 19 Apr 2021
image for Review - 2021 Mazda CX-3 Since its introduction, the world of small or compact SUVs has been growing at a consistently high rate. Last year, sales of compact SUVs accounted for more than 15% of overall car sales; an increase from 12% the year before.

The popularity of compact SUVs is eating away at the market share of the traditional small car, which has seen its share erode from 22% to 18% in the same period of time.

Increasingly, car buyers are more attracted to the looks of the higher-riding compact SUV market, and Mazda has been one of the biggest beneficiaries - soaking up more than half the sales of new compact SUVs in Australia. 

With the latest CX-3, Mazda is looking to continue its dominance in the small car space, having combined the style and benefits of an SUV in a small, compact package.

But is it good enough to continue its dominance? That’s what we’ll be unpacking today.

Starting Price: $22,890

OnlineAuto Savings: $2,894.94

Mazda CX-3 - NEO SPORT (FWD) Specifications

Model Date 2021
Model CX-3
Series CX3G
Transmission 6 SP AUTOMATIC
Drive FWD
Engine DIRFI
Engine capacity 1998
Engine configuration VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM / 16 valves
Engine RPM 6000 / 2800
Cylinders 4
Torque 195
KW 110
Fuel tank size 48.0
Fuel usage specs 6.3 / 0.0
CO2 143
ANCAP security rating 5

For more details and other variants, check Mazda CX-3 car page.

How Much Does It Cost?

The Mazda CX-3 lineup is a bit of a crowded one, with four main variants on offer. The entry-level Neo Sport is priced from $22,890, while the Maxx Sport jumps to $24,890, the sTouring variant jumps again to $29,090 and the range-topping Akarai edition kicks off at $34,190, but stretches out all the way to $38,690.

These prices are based on the front-wheel drive variant, with all-wheel drive adding around $4,000 to the price.

Servicing prices range between $330 and $390 per year over the first five-years.

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What Features Does the Mazda CX-3 Have?

The base Neo Sport variant of the CX-3 comes modestly equipped, considering its entry-level price tag. It comes packaged with a 7-inch touchscreen multimedia unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera, autonomous emergency braking, digital radio, folding mirrors, six airbags, cruise control, air conditioning and rear parking sensors.

Stepping up to the Maxx Sport variant - priced from $24,890 - adds 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, lashings of leather inside, climate control, satellite navigation, as well as safety features like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.  

The step-up to the S-Touring ($29,090) adds 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, tail lights, fog lamps and running lights, as well as a heads-up display, keyless entry, front parking sensors, lane departure warnings and traffic sign recognition.  

The range-topping Akari variant ($34,190) adds a panoramic glass sunroof, adjustable heated seats, leather trim, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functions, LED headlights, as well as a 360-degree camera.

CX-3 Range Features:

Across the CX-3 range, you’ll find features like:

  • 7.0-inch Infotainment System with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
  • Reversing Camera with Rear Sensors
  •  Autonomous emergency braking
  • Alloy wheels (Maxx Sport & above)
  • Leather interior (S-Touring & above)
  • LED lights (S-Touring & above)
  • Glass sunroof (Akari)
  • Adaptive cruise control with 360-degree camera (Akari)

Mazda CX-3 Colours

Deep Crystal Blue Mica Polymetal Grey Metallic
Platinum Quartz Soul Red Crystal Metallic
Jet Black Mica Machine Grey Metallic
Ceramic Metallic Snowflake White Pearl Mica

Is it Comfortable to Drive?

The CX-3 is based on Mazda’s platform used in the tried-and-tested Mazda 2, which means that it offers a driving quality far higher than its price tag would suggest. Typically with cars, the smaller it is, the more vulnerable it is to bumps and irregularities on the road surface. Overall, the ride is extremely comfortable for a car of this size, and Mazda has done well with its suspension to produce a car that feels much more sophisticated than some of the competition.

It’s powered by a 2.0-litre four cylinder engine that pushes out 110kW and 195Nm of torque; translated into english, the CX-3 actually has a nice amount of power and a considerable torque advantage over the competition. This means the driver can get moving off a set of traffic lights and up to speed remarkably quick for the price. Also, as you’ll soon discover, this power does not come at the cost of its fuel efficiency.

Is it Practical and Spacious?

This is one area that the CX-3 fails to excel. While it does its absolute best in terms of making as much space as it can from its small proportions, overall, it’s not what you’d call spacious. Driver and front passenger comfort is excellent, with more than enough headroom, but the same cannot be said about squeezing adults into the rear of the cabin. Headroom becomes somewhat limited with the rear-slope of the roofline, and the limited space in the back rear of the car.

The same, too, applies to the extremely limited space on offer in the boot. There's 264L of storage in the rear cargo bay, which increases to 1174L with the rear 60-40 seats folded down.

Overall, the CX-3 does the best it can with its compact proportions, but if you’re thinking of purchasing it for a growing family, these are some points to take into consideration.  

Is it Safe?

The Mazda CX-3 has been awarded with a five-star ANCAP safety rating, and offers a number of basic safety technologies on the house in the base Neo Sport model. For your money, you’ll get six airbags, autonomous emergency braking, anti-lock brakes, a reverse camera with rear sensors, tyre pressure sensors, stability and traction control, as well as two ISOFIX points.

To soak up the full range of Mazda’s safety equipment, you’ll have to purchase one of the mid-level or range-topping models that throw in the likes of front and rear cross-traffic alerts, lane keep assist and departure warning, adaptive cruise control and the 360-degree camera.

Is it Fuel Efficient?

Mazda is known for its fuel efficient vehicles, and the CX-3 keeps this trend going. Officially, the CX-3 is rated anywhere between 6.3-6.7L/100km, which is right on the money for a car of this size. Real world driving in both the city and on the highway will likely raise this figure to around the 7L/100km mark, which, combined with a 48-litre tank means you’re looking at a range extremely close to the 700km mark, but more likely north of 600km, depending on how much driving you’re doing around town.

Our Verdict: Is the Mazda CX-3 Worth It?

With the 2021 CX-3, it looks as though Mazda has done it again, and cemented itself as the car that its competitors will be forced to measure up against - once again. It ticks just about every box we can throw at it, and it comes as no surprise that the CX-3 has captured around half of the overall share of compact SUVs sold in Australia. 

Even without a significant design refresh since its 2015 introduction, the Mazda CX-3 is still no doubt the king of the compact SUV category.

Five Specs You Need to Know

  1. 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (110kW & 195Nm torque)
  2. Fuel consumption rated between 6.3 - 6.7L/100km
  3. Front-wheel drive standard, optional AWD available
  4. Five-star ANCAP safety rating
  5. 264L of rear cargo space


  • Class-leading compact SUV offering
  • Driving and interior quality
  • Fuel efficiency


  • Somewhat outdated 2015 design
  • Limited on space 

OnlineAuto Rating: 8/10

Mazda CX-3 Competition

Mazda CX-3

Suzuki Vitara
Ford Puma
Volkswagen Golf


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

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