Crossover vehicles are one of the sought after cars in the local market today. With its size, versatility, and cargo space, it became an enticing machine for people who want to blend their busy and active lifestyle. As such, local auto manufacturers have launched their respective challengers in the crossover segment.
One of the ‘new’ challengers is the Mazda CX-3 – a vehicle that’s pitted to rival the likes of the Ford EcoSport and the Nissan Juke. For this review, Mazda Philippines handed us the keys to the 2017 CX-3’s range topping variant – the 2.0L AWD (all wheel drive).
The exterior of the CX-3 is integrated with Mazda's Kodo, the brand's corporate look. This explains why the CX-3 shares similarities with other Mazda models. Overall, it looks like a smaller CX-5 as well as a beefed up Mazda 2 – which gives us the notion that the CX-3 finds itself caught in the middle.
The front end of the vehicle has a striking demeanor thanks to its sharp-looking headlights, wide grille, and large bumper. Turning at the side, the CX-3 is never short of styling points as it is integrated with distinctive character lines and prominent wheel arches. However, the standout design trait is the vehicle’s sloping roofline and blacked-out C-pillar, which allows the CX-3 to have a sporty appeal. On the other hand, the wraparound taillights, muscular rear bumper, and dual exhaust pipes compliment the overall aesthetics of the vehicle.
The striking exterior is somewhat extinguished once you step inside the cabin. The CX-3 features a no-nonsense interior layout that’s similar to the Mazda 2. It has a straightforward and clutter free design as seen on its dashboard. Despite its simplicity, I find the CX-3’s interior commendable. Like the Mazda 2, the CX-3 only has the essential features such as the climate control, ‘tablet-like’ infotainment system, and the Mazda MZD connect rotary knob. The rotary knob allows the driver to easily control the vehicle’s infotainment system. It is placed behind the gear lever and beside the parking brake.
In addition, the CX-3 also has an active driving display (or heads up display), placed at the top of the instrument cluster. This is a pop-up display that indicates the vehicle's speed. On the other hand, the CX-3’s driver’s seat seems to be lacking in height, which decreases forward visibility.
Under the hood, the CX-3 is powered by 2.0L SkyActiv gasoline engine that produces 148 hp and 192 Nm of torque. It is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission and comes with paddle shifters as well as Mazda’s i-STOP (start/stop) system.
In the city, the CX-3 is easy to drive due to its light steering and handling feel. Driving through the congested urban jungle is no problem thanks to its maneuverability. Parking the vehicle is also a breeze because this CX-3 is equipped with sensors and rear back-up camera. The only dilemma in parking the CX-3 is its limited forward visibility, as pointed out earlier. In terms of ride, the CX-3’s suspension leans towards the firm side but don’t worry as overall comfort is not compromised. It can absorb dilapidated roads and potholes within reason. Fuel economy-wise, the CX-3 managed to register 5.2 km/l in a stop-and-go traffic.
On the highway, the CX-3 continues to impress. The engine shifts smoothly with relatively minimum lag while power and torque pull can be felt above the 2500rpm mark. This, along with its 6-speed automatic transmission, gives you confidence to overtake slower vehicles. The heads up display is also helpful when you’re driving on the highway because it is in the driver’s line of sight, showing you your speed. However, Mazda needs to look into the CX-3’s NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) as tire noise is audible at highway speeds. In terms of fuel economy, the CX-3 yielded 16.7 km/l while driving at an average speed of 80 km/h.
After driving through paved roads, we took the CX-3 for a little adventure. Driving Mazda’s crossover in winding roads is fun. It is stable in corners and has less body roll, which gives you more confidence in tackling such roads. In addition, the steering feel of the CX-3 is noteworthy. It is light and responsive, which requires little effort when entering corners. On the other hand, rough terrain is not a roadblock for the CX-3. Its suspension and AWD system got your back whenever you need to drive through harsh road conditions. This further highlights that the CX-3 is more than just an urban crossover.
Overall, the Mazda CX-3 is a good car and it is pleasurable to drive. It’s hard to pinpoint any flaws other than 1 aspect – its price tag. This top-of-the-line CX-3 is priced at P1,480,000, which is more expensive as compared to other vehicles in its class. However, the higher sticker price is justified through the CX-3’s striking exterior, which is arguably the most distinctive in its class. It also has a responsive steering wheel as well as decent power. The CX-3 also has an AWD powertrain, giving you more traction and thus more peace of mind while driving on the road. Lastly, the CX-3 is made in Japan. If those mentioned qualities don’t convince you, you better go and schedule for a test drive now.
148 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Mazda CX-3 2.0 AWD Activ AT
Number of Cylinders
Number of Valves
SkyActiv-DRIVE 6-Speed Automatic with Sport Mode
Max Output (HP)
148 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Max Torque (nm)
192 Nm @ 2,800 rpm
Economy & Environment
Number of Doors
Number of Seats
Safety & Security
Front Passenger's Airbag
Electronic Brake Distribution
with Traction Control
Electronic Door Locks
Speed Sensing Door Locks
Lane Departure Warning System
Blind-Spot Detection System
Front Parking Sensors
Rear Parking Sensors
Push Start Button
Wheels Metal Type
Electronic Automatic Single-Zone Temperature Control
7-inch Touchscreen LCD, Single-DVD Player, MP3, Aux-in, 2-USB, 12V Power Supply, Bluetooth w/ BOSE 6-Speakers and Amplifier