The CX-3 is the smallest of Mazda’s three SUV offerings.
Based on the Mazda 2 supermini, it’s up against rivals including the Nissan Juke, Honda HR-V, Ford Ecosport and Skoda Kamiq.
One thing it has going in its favour is looks. With a sharp, slippery silhouette, perfect proportions and some neat details it makes most other crossovers look a little clumsy.
It was given a mid-life refresh late last year, with a revised front end, a manual handbrake replaced by an electric one, and a pile of other little tweaks and tidy-ups.
There are two petrols and one diesel, with a 2.0 petrol in two power outputs (119bhp and 148bhp) and a 1.8 diesel with 113bhp. All three cars come with a six-speed manual as standard, while a six-speed auto is offered with the petrol engines.
The entry level petrol and the diesel are front wheel drive, and the 148bhp petrol is only available with four-wheel drive. I spent a week with the 119bhp petrol in Sport Nav + trim.
The CX-3 has one of the best interiors in its class. There’s a dark but smart colour scheme and Mazda has adopted a rotary dial system for controls, of the kind used by BMW, which is intuitive and easy to use without taking your eyes off the road. There’s also a touchscreen, for those who prefer that sort of thing.
The cabin isn’t as accommodating as some of its rivals, and those in the rear are particularly short changed, with very tight legroom. Skoda’s Kamiq and Seat’s Arona both offer a good deal more space.
The Mazda’s a surprisingly good driver’s car, with sharp handling and good poise during cornering. Its relatively diddy dimensions mean it’s also a great town and city car.
The suspension is comfortable on longer journeys but the CX-3 is let down by an overabundance of cabin noise which means you have to raise your voice or turn up the radio over the din of wind and tyres.
Prices start at a little over £19,000, which makes it more expensive than many of its rivals. Running costs should be a bit lower, however, and the CX-3 holds its value well.
Petrol engines are smooth and fine if you don’t do big mileages, but if you cover a lot of ground the diesel is a better choice.
The CX-3 is perfect around town and in the country, where its compact size and fun handling come into their own.