Mazda CX-3 Sport Nav+ review

The Sport Nav+ trim is an attractive, well equipped version of the Mazda CX-3

The Mazda CX-3 is the company’s smallest SUV, sitting below the Mazda CX-5 and the new Mazda CX-30. Based on the Mazda2, the CX-3 has no shortage of rivals, including the SEAT Arona, Nissan Juke and Renault Captur, but it’s one of the best on sale. We recently awarded the CX-3 a Best Buy award, thanks to its handsome design, strong equipment levels and great driving experience.

Sport Nav+ trim level sits nearly at the top of the Mazda CX-3 range, below the limited-edition GT Sport Nav+ but above the SE Nav+ and SE-L Nav+ specs. Even the entry-level SE Nav+ version offers a seven-inch touchscreen with sat nav, DAB radio, Bluetooth and Internet connectivity, plus alloy wheels, air conditioning and heated door mirrors, while the SE-L Nav+ adds auto wipers and headlights, heated front seats, rear parking sensors and emergency braking.

Best small SUVs and crossovers to buy this year

Sport Nav+ gives the CX-3 an aesthetic makeover with 18-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights. It also features keyless entry, a reversing camera, a heated steering wheel, front parking sensors and a Bose sound system. It’s one of the more expensive ways to drive a CX-3 but, at £22,095, only £1,300 more than the SE-L Nav+. Because of all the extra kit, it’s actually quite good value - although a driver alert system, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are all optional.

If you want the most powerful 148bhp petrol engine and four-wheel-drive, you’ll need to specify the Sport Nav+ trim. The 2.0-litre non-turbocharged four-cylinder engine is also available with 118bhp and front-drive, and this is the version that most people pick. When the car was facelifted in 2018, the engine was tweaked to be slightly more economical, and a claimed 45.5mpg is the result. A diesel engine will suit higher mileage drivers.

However, we found that the three-cylinder, turbocharged engines in rivals tended to be more economical in our real-world tests. As most of the power comes in towards the top of the rev range, you need to hold out before changing gear, and overtakes and steep hills can mean noisy, uneconomical progress. Elsewhere, the six-speed manual gearbox is slick and precise, and the chassis and steering setup means it’s one of the best compact SUVs to drive.

The interior is another pleasing aspect of the CX-3, especially with the leather and suede upholstery of this high-spec car. It’s built well, rivalling even the Volkswagen T-Cross for material and build quality. The infotainment system now includes Apple CarPlay, too, but Mazda’s infotainment system is our only gripe with the interior in this car. The display looks a little basic and doesn’t match the expensive look of the cabin - the new Mazda3’s media system is much better.

The CX-3’s coupe-like styling looks great but practicality does suffer slightly as a result. There’s not as much space in the rear seats as in the SEAT Arona and other rivals - adults may feel a little squeezed on longer journeys - but the boot is a reasonable size at 350 litres.

Verdict - 3.5/5

It’s well worth stretching the budget to the Sport Nav+ spec if you want to make the most of the CX-3’s styling, as the 16-inch wheels fitted to lower trims look small, particularly when you compare them with the 18-inch wheels on this spec. Sport Nav+ also offers plenty of extra equipment for not much more than SE-L Nav+, even if we wouldn’t describe many of the added features as essentials. If you’re dead-set on this car and spec (and we can see why you would be), we’d recommend sticking with the 118bhp petrol engine - both the other engines add around £2,000 to the price.

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Read our Mazda CX-3 review to see why it’s worth a Best Buy badge, or see where it features on our guide to the best used SUVs.

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