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Mazda is Australia's top-selling car brand to private buyers and I can understand why as they do a lot right, as most of the Mazdas I have tested so far have been lovely stylish cars that are great to drive and practical too. Naturally, I was looking forward to testing the CX-3 and seeing how it fares for families shopping in the small SUV segment!
Lots of people only have one child so they simply don't need a big car, or they live in the city so they don't have room to park a large SUV, or they have a larger family car and then a small run around for work and occasionally transport the kids as well. For whatever the circumstances I was looking forward to putting this little red car through BabyDrive testing!!
I was given a BEAUTIFUL red CX-3 to nip around in!! It's like a luscious deep, velvety red lipstick! (That I used to wear pre-child!!!) It was a lot of fun getting about in the CX-3; it was like the bulky, frumpy practical side of parenting was forgotten and I could just nip about in something nimble and carefree for a week! The CX-3 was great on the open roads as well as being easily maneuverable around town and in small tight car parks etc.
I want to start by telling you my most favourite feature as I hadn't acknowledged it when I made the video so I am hoping if I put it right at the start of the written review most people will read it… The CX-3 we tested has THE BEST keyless entry and exit! I didn't even need to press the key! Just coming near it unlocked the doors AND when I walked away from the car it locked itself automatically… MY FAVOURITE FEATURE!!!!
It doesn't sound like a lot but it's a life changer!! To never have to fish around for your keys again with arms full of a lunch box, wet paintings, half-eaten snacks and a toddler that decides they couldn't possibly walk from the car to the house and demand a ‘pick' even though your arms are laden already!! This feature was GENIUS!!
The interior of the CX-3 is nice, the exterior red carried through to the aircon vents is a nice detail and it has a neat interior on the whole. There are suede panels on the doors and dash which were a magnet for my daughter's toddler hands and might be hard to keep clean. Now where's that suede protector spray I use on my cowboy boots?
Storage inside the cabin was compact but very practical, holding everything you'd want with door bins that hold large refillable water bottles and a glove box that holds an iPad, wallet and the manual. All good APART from the central console cup holders which were really flimsy and wouldn't hold anything properly!
No parent wants to risk spilling their caffeine!!
I could fit two child seats in the back of the CX-3 and I wouldn't expect to fit three child seats in the back of a small car like this. The two fitted well with space for the fold-down cup folders between them, although there wasn't room for me to sit between the two seats. There are top tether anchor points in the back of all three rear seats and ISOFix in the two outer seats, but the ISOFix were a little tricky to connect because they are buried within the seat upholstery.
Legroom is something to consider with the CX-3. With the rear-facing child seat installed, I could just sit in front of it in the front passenger seat and I'm 162cm. Also, it is quite a low vehicle, so swinging my heavy toddler into her child seat and leaning in to fasten her harness was wearing in a low car.
You can raise and lower the boot floor of the CX-3, which enabled me to fit a twin stroller in the boot, with a shopping bag, with the parcel shelf removed. It did, in fact, fit all styles of stroller just with varying numbers of shopping bags. It was a squeeze for the bigger ones so I used a bumper protector from FitMyCar so that I didn't damage the car.
I've never been a huge fan of the Mazda media systems because of the rotary controls and it just feels a little outdated. Mazdas now come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto or you can have it installed for $500 so that really is a major improvement!
The media screen is quite small and that was a concern when reversing and using the camera, the image was low res but quite clear and being a small car you can tell where the parameters are more easily. In the CX-5 I found the wing mirrors created big blind spots when driving but I did not have this problem in the CX-3.
There is a good seatbelt removal display in the dash for the rear seats which I really liked so I could see if anyone unplugged their belts.
This model also has front heated seats, the controls are either side of the seatbelt display, and I love playing pranks on front passengers by turning theirs on!! Try it if you haven't!! 😉
Overall I found the Mazda CX-3 to be a fun, little car to drive, and if you only have one child or two and parking is a problem then it is practical too. Like the CX-5, it has a good quality interior, with thoughtful storage and adequate boot storage you just need to consider the legroom and where anyone taller than 162cm is going to sit with child seats installed too!
The Mazda CX-3 scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating. It has six airbags as standard dual frontal, side and head airbags in the front and head airbags only in the rear.