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2021 Mazda CX-3 Akari AWD review

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The Mazda CX-3 has been one of Australia’s favorite little SUVs for the better part of the past decade. But a raft of new rivals has thrown down the gauntlet. We find out if it’s up for the challenge.

VALUE

The CX-3 range is vast: there are six variants to choose from and manual or automatic options in some and the choice between front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive in others. Prices range from $24,990 drive-away for the base front-wheel-drive manual Neo Sport to the top-spec AWD Akari LE at $39,990.

We are testing the Akari variant — the second rung from the top — equipped with an automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. It is priced at $39,490. That’s a lot of money for a bit of SUV, but it has plenty of safety kits and creature comforts while ticking all the boxes for connectivity.

Mazda covers its cars with the industry standard five-year/unlimited km warranty. Servicing is affordable at $1770 over five years but requires shorter intervals of 12 months or 10,000km.

COMFORT

The Akari is a well-appointed and beautifully finished little SUV, but it’s nearing the end of its life cycle. Front seat passengers get heated leather accented seats, which are snug but comfortable.

The CX-3 has a small wheelbase, which translates into a cramped cabin that could leave more giant teens feeling cramped and claustrophobic. The back seat is best used for younger passengers or short journeys.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, along with satnav and digital radio. The central infotainment screen is small at 7.0 inches, and the picture isn’t as crisp as some rivals. Touch controls work when the car is stopped, but you’ll need to use the rotary-style dial when the car is in motion. Cargo space is tight at just 264L. Newer rivals such as the Kia Stonic can hold almost 100 liters more.

The suspension is generally well sorted, and the Mazda feels comfortable and composed for the most part, although it can struggle to soak up corrugated road surfaces.

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About author
Tristan McCue is a 26-year-old junior programmer who enjoys reading, binge-watching boxed sets, and appearing in the background on TV. He is smart and friendly, but can also be very evil and a bit lazy.He is an Australian Christian. He has a post-graduate degree in computing.
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