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Driven: Mazda CX-3 1.8d. Image by Mazda UK.

Driven: Mazda CX-3 1.8d
Mazdaís new smaller turbodiesel engine is a little corker. Shame that it seems is if itís going to be killed off by Skyactiv-X, then...


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Mazda CX-3 1.8d Sport Nav 2WD

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Good points: new turbodiesel engine seriously improves on the old 1.5-litre unit and is a better choice than the 2.0-litre petrol, too

Not so good: it's not likely to be around in Mazda's range for that long...

Key Facts

Model tested: Mazda CX-3 1.8d 115 2WD Sport Nav+
Price: CX-3 range from £19,395; 1.8d 2WD Sport Nav+ from £23,295, car as tested £23,845
Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door crossover
CO2 emissions: 114g/km (VED Band 111-130: £170 in year one, then £145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 54.3mpg
Top speed: 114mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Power: 115hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 270Nm at 1,600-2,600rpm
Boot space: 287-1,197 litres

Our view:

A really quick one for you, here. This is the Mazda CX-3, a car we have tested many times and which we've told you, also many times, is one of our favourite little crossovers in the class. In 2018, it was subjected to a mild facelift and technical update, we drove a 2.0-litre Sport Black limited edition at that stage and we found it was still a relevant, worthwhile competitor in its class - albeit one where the cabin, cramped in the rear as it is, was also starting to show its age in one or two key areas, while it had one of Mazda's smooth but hard-going normally aspirated petrol engines.

So the bigger news was the adoption of a new 1.8-litre turbodiesel engine for the CX-3 range, the first time this unit had seen service in the Mazda world. Previously, the Japanese outfit had two diesels, a lower-powered 1.5-litre unit and then its sumptuous 2.2-litre motor, which remains one of the best mainstream four-cylinder derv-drinkers in active service. Well, the 1.5 - toting 105hp and 270Nm - has been replaced by the 1.8, which makes an additional 10hp and precisely the same torque. It's also a bit cleaner/more efficient than the old 1.5 - NEDC v WLTP-adjusted, that is - and also up to the very latest EU emissions standards, as well.

And it is also unquestionably the engine to have in the CX-3. Rich in the midrange, much more cultured and subdued than the gargly old 1.5, mated to another glorious Mazda six-speed manual transmission (the company is really getting its gearbox throws right these days), and capable of returning truly decent real-world economy - we got an average 45.6mpg out of it across 83 miles in its company, with a best figure of 55mpg returned on a gentle motorway run being about bang on the official claimed combined numbers - this is a lovely companion for the 1,370kg CX-3, because it makes it a much easier crossover to drive with the general flow of traffic. While its 0-62mph time might be nine-tenths-of-a-second down on the 121hp petrol model's sprint, this is a prime example of how meaningless a written 0-62mph time can be - because the diesel is absolutely the quicker to respond to surging motorway traffic, or to flex its way out of 30mph zones without needing a downshift or two. It's just better than the 2.0-litre petrol.

So why not more marks for this CX-3 1.8d, then? Regrettably, there are a few issues with the car, which we've already touched upon. Rear seat space is tight and so is the boot, to be honest, as sub-300 litres of space is pretty poor by B-segment standards; there are now a number of supermini hatchbacks with far more cargo capacity than this. The areas of the cabin which were already beginning to look dated in 2018 now come across as positively old-hat in 2019, especially if you're a customer wandering around a Mazda showroom who has just sat in the barnstorming new 3 C-segment hatchback and marvelled at its exquisite interior.

But by far the biggest concern we have, and one which links neatly to the 3, is that it would appear Mazda's clever Skyactiv-X technology is where the company would like to pin its eco-colours in the immediate future. The 1.8d was briefly introduced and then phased out of the 3 line-up, and there's a fear that - when the time comes to replace the CX-3 with an all-new model - Mazda will simply not bother with diesel and go with its Spark-Controlled Compression Ignition motor instead.

A shame, because this little turbodiesel is a sweet, ideal donkey for this sort of car. And one which is being needlessly killed off by misplaced anti-diesel customer sentiment harming sales of the fuel type. So our advice would be: buy a 1.8-litre Mazda diesel, in this likeable CX-3 if you so wish, while you still can. Because the opportunity won't be around for much longer...


Citroen C4 Cactus: lord alone knows what Citroen was thinking with this awful update of a once-lovely, quirky crossover. Facelifted C4 might be bigger inside than the CX-3, but that is the only area where it beats the Mazda. The Citroen is now a poor car.

Honda HR-V Sport: CX-3 has always had a surprisingly spry chassis, so if you want a B-segment crossover with some driving thrills, try out this unusual 182hp Honda. It's really pricey in comparison but it's a relative hoot to drive, and its interior is packaged way better than the Mazda's.

SEAT Arona: can't have a B-segment crossover review without mentioning the class leader. The Arona isn't massively flashy, but with its chiselled good looks, choice of VW Group's silky drivetrains and arguably the best chassis in the segment for the keener driver, then this is the crossover to beat.

Matt Robinson - 24 Apr 2019    - Mazda road tests
- Mazda news
- CX-3 images

2019 Mazda CX-3 1.8d UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2019 Mazda CX-3 1.8d UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2019 Mazda CX-3 1.8d UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2019 Mazda CX-3 1.8d UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2019 Mazda CX-3 1.8d UK test. Image by Mazda UK.

2019 Mazda CX-3 1.8d UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2019 Mazda CX-3 1.8d UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2019 Mazda CX-3 1.8d UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2019 Mazda CX-3 1.8d UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2019 Mazda CX-3 1.8d UK test. Image by Mazda UK.


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