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.

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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.

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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