Long-term test (Update 2): Mazda CX-3 2,0 Individual Auto
My sentiments about the Mazda CX-3 remain the same as that first day I got behind the wheel eight months ago; they’re both good and bad. Thankfully, the light crossover does more things well than it has failings.
With just a quarter of the way left to go, the CX-3’s 2,0-litre Skyactiv engine has impressed more and more. With some kilometres under the belt, it has shown its responsive and lively capabilities in both urban and long-distance driving.
In fact, the transmission also appears to be working more smoothly, allowing the engine to rev to perform from conservative revs instead of hooking a lower gear at any opportunity.
The CX-3 hasn’t done many long-distance trips in the past 10 000 km, but it has ventured to destinations such as Tulbagh and Franschhoek from my base in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs, and those were made more pleasant by the aforementioned traits and the forgiving and comfortable ride.
The perceived quality of the interior has also been a factor that has stayed true over the course of this test. It’s something we’ve praised in the CX-3 before and it is a delight to see that the fit and finish have stayed consistently impressive.
Packaging, however has been a cause for concern, as the limited boot space has been restrictive with regards to how far you can travel with a group. Although the CX-3 comfortably seats four, it does not have the luggage space to accommodate their paraphernalia.
Another annoyance is the lack of deactivation for the passenger airbag, a pain if you want to place your baby beside you when you’re driving. Thankfully, there are Isofix anchor points on the rear seat.
After 8 months
Mileage now: 14 367 km
Fuel consumption (litres/100 km): 8,98 L/100 km
We like: responsive engine; refined interior
We dislike: compact packaging; no off switch for passenger airbag
Long-term test (Update 1): Mazda CX-3 2,0 Individual Auto
A month from the halfway mark in our fleet, I have been very impressed with the CX-3; it’s proven to be a capable and refined crossover.
That said, I have unearthed a few small niggles, including a lack of a centre armrest, shopping-bag hooks in the boot and auto-locking doors.. I’ve also found that, while the cabin looks and feels premium, the deep grooves between the various surfaces easily collect dirt that isn’t quite so easy to remove. Finally, one of the hooks that keep the parcel shelf secure keeps popping out of its holding.
Other than these slight – and ostensibly easily solved issues – there is a lot to like about the CX-3. The engine-transmission combination feels a lot more responsive than at the start of the CX-3 12-month sting; the transmission changes gears fluently and the powertrain responds to the throttle more vigorously.
Fuel consumption has settled round the 8,7 L/100 km margin, although a recent trip to Bloemfontein saw an average figure of just 7,6 L/100 km.
Considering my singleton lifestyle, the smaller-than-usual cabin hasn’t irked, and the moderately sized boot fits everything I throw at it. Together with those shopping hooks, Mazda could consider adding a cargo net to stop groceries rolling around the boot.
It’s been gratifying to read the comments from CAR readers enthusing about how much they enjoy their CX-3s, although they too have noted some of the same shortcomings.
After 5 months
Mileage now: 8 830 km
Fuel consumption (litres/100 km): 8,69 L/100 km
We like: engine loosening up nicely
We dislike: missing some comfort features
Long-term test (Introduction): Mazda CX-3 2,0 Individual AT
Our initial impressions of the Mazda CX-3 light crossover were positive when we tested the vehicle in the February 2016 issue. We loved the Mazda2-based model’s price, performance and overall packaging.
There were niggles, however, including an automatic transmission that showed a tendency to kick down too eagerly instead of letting the strong 2,0-litre engine mine the reserves of its 204 N.m torque peak to pull a higher gear. We will now be able to find out whether that mild irritation is one we can live after Mazda kindly offered us a CX-3 in Individual grade (R351 000) to use for 12 months.
Only available with the six-speed torque-converter unit, Individual spec brings a wealth of standard equipment, including satellite-navigation, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, head-up display and camera aided rear park assist.
Oddly, the CX-3 lacks certain features you’d expect to be standard on such a modern vehicle, including a central armrest, auto-locking doors and roof rails, but those are forgivable considering the aforementioned list.
I love the CX-3’s design inside and out. Mazda’s Kodo design language continues to impress, especially when covered in this vehicle’s Snowflake White Pearl Mica paintwork. The little crossover, which competes with another dual-purpose vehicle in our fleet, the Renault Captur, is one of the prettier vehicles in its segment.
The 2,0-litre SkyActiv engine as used in the MX-5 and Mazda3, which recently left the CAR offices after its 12-month tenure (see the April 2016 issue for its wrap-up feature), is one of the stronger powertrains in this class, despite eschewing turbocharged technology in favour of natural aspiration and sheer displacement. It’s also commendably quiet, which combines with the well-damped ride to render the CX-3 a pleasantly refined commuter.
Having received it with just 81 km on the clock, most of my driving up until now has been to simply run in the engine.
As a result, the average fuel consumption has been on the heavier side of 8,8 L/100 km, but I expect this figure to decrease over the course of the test in line with Mazda’s efficiency claims for its SkyActiv range of engines.
Throughout the 12-month stay, I’m hoping to discover whether the CX-3 can play the dual roles of daily commuter and weekend family vehicle equally well, and whether that transmission will endear itself to me, or continue to irk.
After 1 month
Current mileage: 1 338 km
Average fuel consumption: 8,86 L/100 km
We like: attractive design; good engine; suspension tuning
We don’t like: unresponsive transmission; no centre armrest