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Mazda CX-3 review – A crossover with the spirit of an MX-5? - Ride and handling

High pricing may deter some, but the CX-3 is appealing to both drive and to behold

Evo rating
Price
from £17,595
  • Good dynamics; frugal; most stylish car in its class
  • Steering lacks involvement; quite expensive

While anyone expecting a kind of ‘MX-5 on stilts’ might come away disappointed, the CX-3 is still the best-driving vehicle in its class, and therefore the one we’d recommend if your family circumstances dictate that a compact crossover serve as your daily driver.

Its main skill is pairing relative agility with welcome pliancy, even on 18-inch alloy wheels and tyres of skinny profile. It’s not immune to bumps and pot holes, but it does a good job of minimising their intrusion, whether you’re tackling a B-road or ferrying your kids to school and back. It’s on the softer side of sporting, and not quite as nimble as a regular supermini with its lower centre of gravity, but the damping seems perfectly appropriate for a car like this.

In the B-road scenario the CX-3 also feels nicely balanced. Ultimately the front will wash away first – as it should, in a car like this – but before that point the car reacts predictably to throttle and steering inputs. We’d even go as far as saying it flows down a road similar to an older hot hatchback, before huge performance and uncompromising suspension stiffness became the norm.

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Where it can’t match up to an old hot hatch is in feel and feedback. Like the new MX-5, the steering is light and allows little of the road surface to filter back through the rim. There’s also an inaccuracy around the centre mark, though bite improves after a few degrees more lock.

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