2024 Mazda CX-3 G20 Touring SP review

13 min read

The Mazda CX-3 is now one of the Japanese carmaker’s oldest vehicles in its line-up. It has been on sale locally since 2015 and received a facelift in 2018.

Despite its age, the CX-3 continues to receive minor updates, with the latest paring down the range from 13 to five variants. There are no more manual transmission and all-wheel drive options.

As part of the update all Mazda CX-3 variants now receive wireless Apple CarPlay, power-folding side mirrors and a remote window control function.

There’s also a range of new variants that replace outgoing trim levels.

The new CX-3 Touring SP on test here replaces the sTouring and features 18-inch black machined alloy wheels, a black painted roof, a black chrome wing, and a gloss black front grille.

Inside it features black leather and Grand Luxe suede upholstery. Also standard are heated front seats, a 10-way power driver’s seat with memory and adaptive cruise control with stop/go.

Does the CX-3 still do enough to draw your attention? Read along to find out.

How does the Mazda CX-3 fare vs its competitors?

View a detailed breakdown of the Mazda CX-3 against similarly sized vehicles.

Mazda CX-3 cutout image



How much does the Mazda CX-3 G20 Touring SP cost?

2024 Mazda CX-3 pricing:

  • 2024 Mazda CX-3 G20 Sport: $26,800
  • 2024 Mazda CX-3 G20 Pure: $29,300
  • 2024 Mazda CX-3 G20 Evolve: $31,050
  • 2024 Mazda CX-3 G20 Touring SP: $34,300
  • 2024 Mazda CX-3 G20 Akari: $38,620

All prices exclude on-road costs.

To see how the CX-3 compares to its rivals, line it up side-by-side with any car you want using our comparison tool.

What is the Mazda CX-3 G20 Touring SP like on the inside?

Walking up and hopping into the Mazda CX-3 is easy thanks in part to its slightly raised ride height. The same can be said for egress as you can pivot and step out of the car, rather than having to push yourself up.

The G20 Touring SP variant on test here comes with some funky-looking seats that are finished in a faux suede-like and leather panels. They stand out because there’s a chevron pattern on the suede-like sections.

The driver’s seat has 10 ways of electric adjustment which is great, as well as lumbar support and memory presets. For a while I didn’t realise our tester had this feature as the buttons for it were tucked away between the bottom of the seat and the door.

The driver’s seat itself is really comfortable and has plenty of cushioning on the backrest and base, though it does lack some side bolstering which you can feel if you go around a sweeping bend.

Ahead of the driver is a leather-wrapped steering wheel which is rather thin in typical Mazda fashion. It’s features the older-style buttons which means pressing them up and down feels clicky, however pressing them in feels mushy.

The stalks behind the steering wheel are stubby and thick but still have a really satisfying thwack when you use them.

Behind the steering wheel is a set of gauges that are starting to look incredibly dated. In the centre is a large analogue rev counter with a small digital speedometer readout in the bottom left.

There are also two small basic digital screens flanking this central rev counter. The left-hand scree displays the odometer as well as the selected gear, whereas the right-hand screen can be configured to display bits of information like average fuel economy.

There’s a notable absence of an engine temperature gauge, which isn’t the end of the world as there are lights for when the engine is cold or too hot.

Above the instrument cluster is a flip-up head-up display that projects a small amount of information onto a plastic polariser. I found it really hard to find a perfect position as it was either too low or too high depending on how I sat in the seat.

This type of head-up display is a rather dated type of technology now as it can’t display as much information with as much clarity as more sophisticated units that project onto the windshield.

Moving across is an extremely dated 8.0-inch MZD Connect infotainment screen which is technically a touchscreen but only when you’re stationary or using smartphone mirroring.

Display resolution isn’t fantastic and the processing power appears to be lacking. This means when you start up the car or when you open a new program, it takes a considerable amount of time.

When you can’t use the touch inputs on the infotainment system you’re forced to use an older-style control panel which includes a rotary dial. Using the latter can be painful at first but you soon get used to how it works.

All CX-3 variants now receive wireless Apple CarPlay as standard which is incredibly handy as you don’t have to faff around with a USB cable. On the flip side however, there’s no wireless charger which means I tended to plug my phone in anyway so its battery could remain topped up. It’s worth noting Android Auto is still only offered in wired form.

It takes a while for smartphone mirroring to load up when you first start up the car which is painful if you need to put in a navigation destination.

Speaking of navigation, the CX-3 G20 Touring SP comes as standard with satellite navigation which looks really dated. It’s also really painful to use as scrolling the rotary knob to type in a point of interest takes forever. It’s for this reason alone I refused to use the in-built satellite navigation system and instead use Google Maps on my phone with smartphone mirroring.

Moving down there are a set of round dials for the climate control system. It’s nice to have physical dials for these, however the leftmost knob is for a temperature and it’s hard to tell what it’s set at exactly.

Around the cabin it’s surprising how much soft touches there are given its segment and price point. The dashboard has a grey soft-touch section, and the armrests are soft enough. Despite this you don’t have to look far at all to find harder plastics.

Unique to this variant are the copper highlights on the round air vents. There’s also minimal use of piano black which I appreciate given its prevalence in the segment.

On the central tunnel there are two unique-looking cupholders. One of these folds up and the other is located under the centre armrest which is a little frustrating.

Moving to the second row there’s an obvious downgrade in quality. You can tell the CX-3 is geared towards the front passengers and the second-row passengers are second-class citizens.

At a leggy 182cm tall it’s incredibly squishy when sitting behind my driving position. I had to splay my legs around the seat in front in order to get somewhat comfortable. Head room is minimal, though foot room under the seat is completely fine.

Although the CX-3 is technically a five seater I wouldn’t recommend putting any more than two adults in the rear seat. Kids will be comfortable in the rear, however.

In terms of second-row amenities, the CX-3 G20 Touring SP is a little grim. There’s a fold-down armrest with cupholders. That’s it. There’s no rear air vents, nor USB ports.

The boot in the CX-3 measures in at a measly 264 litres. This makes it one of the smallest in the segment. I can’t even sit my backpack upright in the boot without it hitting the parcel shelf.

There is a light in the boot however it doesn’t switch on when you open the boot. This is incredibly frustrating if you come out to the car at night time and can’t see what you’re doing.

Under the boot floor is a space-saver spare wheel which isn’t quite as good as having a full-size spare. If it had a full-size spare though the boot space would be virtually non-existent.

I am thankful that Mazda hasn’t gone down the path of ditching the spare wheel in the search of maximising boot space as if you’re caught without one it can really ruin your day.

What’s under the bonnet?

Model Mazda CX-3 G20
Engine 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol
Power 110kW
Torque 195Nm
Transmission Six-speed automatic
Driven Wheels Front-wheel drive
Weight 1294kg (kerb)
Fuel economy (claimed) 6.3L/100km
Fuel economy (as tested) 7.0L/100km
Fuel tank 48 litres
Octane rating 91 RON

To see how the CX-3 compares with its rivals, line it up side-by-side with any car you want using our comparison tool.

How does the Mazda CX-3 G20 Touring SP drive?

Starting up the CX-3 you’re greeted by the classic Mazda rev flare and high idle until the engine warms up a little.

If you set off while the engine is still warming up, take off can be a little touchy. This means you’ll surge forward faster than intended until the engine reaches its proper operating temperature.

The CX-3’s 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine is completely adequate. Although its outputs of 110kW and 195Nm don’t sound earth-shattering on paper, they’re actually quite generous for its segment.

Once the engine has warmed and sufficiently the take off isn’t fantastic but not horrible. You’ll be keeping up with traffic from the lights with no problems whatsoever.

If you need to get moving a little quicker be prepared for a bunch of revs. The same can be said for Sport mode which just flares revs a bunch and doesn’t really make the car feel any faster.

The CX3’s Sport mode switch is really prominent on the centre console which at first glance would suggest this car has a sporty undertone. It’s no MX-5 though…

This 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is paired with a sweet six-speed automatic transmission which feels really slick. It seeks higher gears whenever it can to minimise fuel economy, but it’s still willing to drop gears to accelerate or maintain speed.

Despite the transmission being silky smooth for the most part there were a few points where it was jolty going back to first gear in stop-start traffic. It’s not incredibly jarring but something you notice after a while.

Around the city the CX-3 feels right at home. It has really light steering which means it super easy to navigate tight roads and park. There are front and rear parking sensors as standard, as well as a reversing camera – the latter has terrible quality however, which is disappointing.

Driving around at low speeds the CX-3 is generally compliant, though rougher bumps can unsettle the car. You can really hear all the suspension components working away when you’re driving too.

When you dial up the speed the ride can feel a little fragile due in part to the larger 18-inch alloy wheels. I feel the ride would be a lot smoother if it had the smaller 16-inch units that base models have because there’s more tyre sidewall to absorb road imperfections.

On the highway the engine really needs to work to get up to speed. Once you reach your intended speed though the car finds it groove nicely. If you come up to a hill however, the transmission dives back through the gears.

The CX-3 feels largely solid on the freeway and handle of own, though it can get blown around a bit at times due to its 1.3-tonne kerb weight. It also gets chucked around a bit on bumpy sections of roads.

There’s also a considerable amount of road and tyre noise on coarse-chip bitumen roads. This is fairly common though for the segment.

On the safety front, the CX-3’s adaptive cruise control system works really well. It doesn’t brake harshly when a car pulls in front of you like some systems do at times.

It can be a little hard to tell when the adaptive cruise control system detects a car in front of you though because of the flimsy plastic head-up display. There’s no proper readout of what the system is doing on the instrument cluster.

The last thing I’ll mention in this section is the LED headlights on our tester were fantastic. These types of headlights are great in rural areas where a rogue animal could jump out at you at any given opportunity.

What do you get?

CX-3 Sport highlights:

  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • Power-folding exterior mirrors
  • 8.0-inch infotainment screen
  • Wired Android Auto
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay
  • 6-speaker sound system
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • Tilt, telescopic steering column adjustment
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Electric parking brake with auto hold
  • Keyless start
  • Air-conditioning
  • Cruise control
  • Power windows
  • 1 x 12V outlet

CX-3 Pure adds:

  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Automatic LED headlights
  • Automatic high-beam
  • LED daytime running lights
  • Head-up display
  • Satellite navigation
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Climate control air-conditioning
  • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
  • LED tail lights

CX-3 Evolve adds:

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Maztex leatherette/Grand Luxe synthetic suede upholstery

CX-3 Touring SP adds:

  • Heated power-folding exterior mirrors
  • LED front fog lights
  • Heated front seats
  • Leather/Grand Luxe synthetic suede upholstery
  • Power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment
  • Keyless entry

Is the Mazda CX-3 G20 Touring SP safe?

The Mazda CX-3 is currently unrated by safety authority ANCAP, as its five-star rating from 2015 has now expired.

Standard safety features include:

  • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
    • City speeds
    • Forward, Reverse
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Front, front-side and curtain airbags
  • Reversing camera
  • Rear parking sensors

CX-3 Pure and above get:

  • Driver attention alert
  • Lane departure warning

CX-3 Evolve adds front parking sensors

CX-3 Touring SP and up get:

  • Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
  • AEB incl. Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
  • Forward collision warning
  • Traffic sign recognition

How much does the Mazda CX-3 G20 Touring SP cost to run?

The Mazda CX-3 is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Logbook servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000km. The first five services are capped at $334, $526, $412, $526 and $334.

CarExpert’s Take on the Mazda CX-3 G20 Touring SP

The Mazda CX-3 has been the top-selling vehicle in its segment for a considerable amount of time now and it’s obvious to see why.

The teensy SUV is an obvious step up from the likes of the related Mazda 2 and perfectly suits individuals or couples. It’s certainly no family car.

The CX-3 also works as a great car for elderly people as the elevated ride height makes it easy to get in and out. Mazda knows this however and charges a hefty premium for the higher-riding CX-3.

The range now almost starts well over $25,000 and extends all the way to $40,000.

This is a lot of money given the CX-3 has an absolutely tiny second row and boot, as well as an extremely dated and sluggish infotainment system.

You also need to step up all the way to the second-from-the-top Touring SP variant on test here which starts at $34,800 before on-roads to get sought after features like keyless entry and the full safety suite.

Despite having these features it’s hard to wholeheartedly recommend the CX-3 G20 Touring SP as the sweet spot of the range not only due to its asking price, but also the occasionally brittle ride on its larger 18-inch alloy wheels.

You’d arguably be better looking closer at the entry-level Sport or Pure variants; which are more affordable and also receive smaller 16-inch alloy wheels which are wrapped in tyres with chubbier sidewalls.

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BUY: Mazda CX-3
MORE: Everything Mazda CX-3

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