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First UK Drive: Mazda CX-3 2.0 Sport Black+. Image by Mazda.

First UK Drive: Mazda CX-3 2.0 Sport Black+
Driving a black-tinged special edition of one of our favourite compact crossovers, the Mazda CX-3.


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Mazda CX-3 2.0 Sport Black+

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Just 500 examples of the Mazda CX-3 Sport Black+ will be sold in the UK, so is it worth checking out this trimmed-up crossover or are there better choices elsewhere in the CX-3 line-up?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Mazda CX-3 2.0 Sport Black+ manual
Pricing: CX-3 from 18,995; Sport Black+ as tested 22,195
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door crossover-SUV
CO2 emissions: 141g/km (VED band 131-150: 205 first 12 months, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 45.6mpg
Top speed: 119mph
0-62mph: 9.0 seconds
Power: 121hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 206Nm at 2,800rpm
Boot space: 350-1,260 litres

What's this?

A 2019MY Mazda CX-3, which means it has all the updates that the company brought in earlier in 2018, as well as some minor changes to the engine - look! Since we last saw it, the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol motor has gained 1hp and 2Nm. Boom! Oh, and Euro 6d emissions compliance, more pertinently. Sly sarcasm aside, we've always really liked the CX-3 and perhaps the bigger news for the 2019MY is a fresh 1.8-litre turbodiesel motor that replaces the old 1.5-litre derv-burner. You can expect this 1.8 to filter into the rest of Mazda's product range in the coming months and, in 2019, we plan to bring you a review of a CX-3 1.8d.

For now, though, we're having a very quick spin in the 121hp Sport Black+, a 500-off limited edition of the CX-3 with some, um, black detailing. Put the words 'investment piece' to the back of your mind, however, as Mazda has plenty of form in doing 'special editions' over the years and the Sport Black+ is not going to start appreciating in value as soon as you drive it off the forecourt. In essence, the trim takes the high-ranking SE-L Nav+ 2WD 2.0-litre CX-3 and adds a black rear spoiler and door mirror caps, plus black leather upholstery as standard. A set of 18-inch alloy wheels (bizarrely, they're silver, not black), chrome garnish trims in the front bumper of the crossover and along its sides as well, front parking sensors, a reversing camera, a heated steering wheel and a colour head-up display are all part of the kit list, as is free-of-charge metallic paint: choose from Soul Red Crystal, Eternal Blue Mica or Machine Grey, and these paints alone are anything between 550 and 790 (that'll be the brand's signature red, which is a luscious hue) on an SE-L Nav+. Indeed, the starting price of 22,195 for the manual Sport Black+ (as tested here) and 23,195 for the automatic compares very favourably with the SE-L Nav+'s 21,185 (manual), as there's more than 1,000-worth of additional kit on the Sport Black+. So should you go for it?

How does it drive?

Well, in answer to the question we posed at the end of the first section of the review, then yes, you should, because the added equipment and attractive exterior looks make the Sport Black+ emphatically worth its entry fee - and it is a CX-3, when all's said and done, which is a great little crossover. However, the driving experience of the Sport Black+ is no different at all from a regular 121hp CX-3. This is no bad thing; the CX-3 has always impressed with its refinement levels that feel like those of a larger car, its sparkling chassis dynamics (for a crossover, at any rate) and the intuitive way its cabin is laid out, as well as its superb visibility outwards. To drive, this is a relaxing car in a wide variety of situations and it has one of Mazda's typically smooth, likeable drivetrains.

Nevertheless, that very drivetrain's USP - its natural aspiration - makes this a vehicle you have to work at in order to maintain pace, because it doesn't have the flattering midrange torque that will mask any lapses in throttle-control/gear-selection concentration you might have. You'll need to stir the super-slick manual 'box quite a bit more often in most driving conditions than you would have to in a turbocharged rival, so if you're a lazier pilot then this is not the crossover for you. Also, the cabin design is based on the architecture in the Mazda2 and it's the least convincing of all the company's interiors. The flip-up sheet of plastic for the head-up display is an issue, as it looks cheap (the actual graphics presented on the HUD are fine), and the digital screens either side of the central rev counter are showing their 'blue LCD' age. It's also quite cramped in the back seats for taller passengers, which might not be a problem if your family is made up of some younger children, but teenagers are going to grouse about sitting in the rear for any great period of time. These foibles aren't specific to the Sport Black+, of course, so maybe what we're hinting at is that the CX-3 is starting to feel like it might need more visual updates than just black spoilers and free metallic paint...


With a generous roster of extra equipment over an SE-L Nav+ and some tasteful exterior looks, the Mazda CX-3 Sport Black+ is well worth checking out, because we love the exterior appearance of the Japanese crossover and we also love a lot of things about the way it drives. However, the ageing and cramped cabin, and the less forgiving naturally aspirated powerplant too, mean this won't be the mini-SUV for everyone, while there are cheaper, just-as-appealing options within the CX-3's own range if you're on a budget.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain

Matt Robinson - 21 Nov 2018    - Mazda road tests
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- CX-3 images

2018 Mazda CX-3. Image by Mazda.2018 Mazda CX-3. Image by Mazda.2018 Mazda CX-3. Image by Mazda.2018 Mazda CX-3. Image by Mazda.2018 Mazda CX-3. Image by Mazda.

2018 Mazda CX-3. Image by Mazda.2018 Mazda CX-3. Image by Mazda.2018 Mazda CX-3. Image by Mazda.2018 Mazda CX-3. Image by Mazda.2018 Mazda CX-3. Image by Mazda.


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