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Mazda CX-3 1.8 Skyactiv-D 115hp Sport Nav

Date: 21 November 2018   |   Author: Rachel Boagey

The CX-3 gains a brand-new diesel engine and some minor aesthetic changes. Are the upgrades sufficient to keep Mazda's small crossover competitive?
Standard equipment:
18in alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights with adaptive front LED headlamps, reversing camera with front and rear sensor, half cloth-half leatherette upholstery, keyless entry, head-up display, Bose surround sound system
Petrol: 121hp 2.0, 150hp 2.0
Diesel: 115hp 1.8
SE-Nav+, SE-L Nav+, Sport Nav+
Six-speed manual, automatic

The latest CX-3 is the first model in the Mazda line-up to get the company's all-new 115hp 1.8-litre Skyactiv-D diesel engine. With claimed emissions of 114g/km and fuel economy of 64.2mpg, the new diesel unit offers real-world fuel economy in line with the new WLTP, and more powerful than the outgoing 105hp 1.5-litre diesel. 

The performance of the engine feels pretty impressive, too. OK, so a 0-62 sprint time of 9.9 seconds isn't going to win any drag races, but because the engine has plenty of power low down and revs so sweetly, it actually feels a lot faster in everyday driving than the figures suggest. It's also extremely refined around town and mated to the six-speed manual gearbox it's good fun in that respect too. 

Mazda CX3 Screen

It is a bit of a shame, however, that the engine isn't available with an automatic gearbox and can only be had with expensive top-spec Sport Nav+ trim. There are other engines available including a 120hp or 150hp 2.0-litre petrol version which both can be mated to an auto gearbox, but the higher-power petrol is your only option if you want four-wheel drive. 

The CX-3 has always been one of the more engaging crossovers to drive thanks mainly to suspension that has been optimised to offer a strong blend of tidy handling stability and decent ride comfort, but Mazda is not resting on its laurels thanks to its Skyactiv philosophy. This is an ongoing regime that prioritises a holistic approach to vehicle engineering, and one that aims to save weight in order to reduced running costs and boost driving dynamics. 

On road, the latest weight savings and tweaked suspension deliver minimal body roll and a flat cornering attitude, although the downside is the taut suspension gives the car a slightly firmer edge than rivals such as the Citroen C3 Aircross. But while its refinement is impressive, the diesel is noticeably louder than its petrol counterparts and vibrations through the gearstick become irritating. 

Mazda CX3_front

Although the facelift has been modest - an enhanced grille is the main differentiator - and from the outside, you may struggle to spot any differences, the CX-3 remains an attractive and thoroughly contemporary looking crossover. It's packed to the brim with technology, even in the lower trim levels, and there are a host of high-quality materials and soft touch to help to elevate its interior above those of mainstream rivals. 

The Mazda CX-3 remains one of the best driving compact crossovers, and its new diesel engine is Mazda's attempt to ensure it also has excellent running costs for fleet customers. At less than 50ppm on a cost per mile basis, the CX-3 is competitive on running costs against rivals; and with SMR costs of £1,865 it's cheaper than its Nissan Juke rival, which will cost over £2,000. 

Mazda CX3_rear

Whether the new engine and trim will get onto fleet wish lists is something that's yet to been seen.

Ultimately, the CX-3 isn't a particularly cost-effective small SUV. It's expensive to buy, for starters, especially if you go for one of the higher-specification models like this one here, the only option in diesel which offers the lowest emissions and highest claimed economy of the range. Overall, this diesel is one to go for as your company car, but that choice may not be as clear cut as you'd hoped. 

Mazda CX-3 SUV 1.8 Skyactiv-D 115hp Sport Nav+ 6Spd

P11D £22,635

On sale September 2018 

Residual value 42.8% 

Depreciation £13,110

Fuel £5,667

Service, maintenance and repair £1,865

Running cost per mile 34.4p

Fuel consumption 64.2mpg

CO2 (BIK band) 114g/km (23%)  

BIK 20/40% a month £87/£174

Boot space 350 litres

Engine size/power 1,759cc/115hp


  • High-quality, good drivability.
  • Pricey, diesel only with high trim and manual gearbox.