Mazda CX-3 GT

  Another week, another SUV. Honestly, that’s how it’s beginning to feel. Crossovers, soft-roaders, Sports Utility Vehicles, call then what you will, they’re the current automotive equivalent of the proverbial hot cake; they’re selling like them too. However, they don’t always prove that tasty to drive. They’re practical, yes, and undoubtedly so in some cases, but exciting? Not really. Well, not all of them that is…

    Let us be thankful then for the Mazda CX-3 GT Sport

Designed, say Mazda to set a new dynamic benchmark, the CX-3 GT Sport has been conceived under their “Jinba Ittai” (that’s driver-and–car-as-one to you and me) ethos that defines all recent Mazda products. And, in a world, or a High Street at least, where virtually every car seems to share the same somewhat boxy and upright lines as the next one, complete with its front and rear skirts, chrome accents, 18 inch alloys and all-important boot spoiler, the CX-3 GT Sport does indeed cut a refreshing, stylish, and well-creased dash.

  Based on the same underpinnings as Mazda’s similarly swoopy-styled 2 hatchback, but nevertheless longer, wider and needless to say taller, the CX-3 is up against some pretty stiff competition: namely the likes of Vauxhall’s Mokka, Suzuki’s Vitara, Nissan’s Juke the Renault Captur, Skoda’s Karoq, SEAT’s Arona, Volvo’s V40, VW’s T-Roc… As I said, everyone’s at it.

   In such myriad choice perhaps it’s easy to see why Mazda have added a limited edition and range-topping GT Sport version to the CX3’s 13 variant line-up which already incorporates SE, SE Nav, SE-L, SE-L Nav and Sport Nav. Variety after all is clearly the spice of life. Just 500 CX-3 GT Sports will be built in a bid perhaps to not only offer a something a little different but also perhaps little more desirability – or a perhaps it’s just a break from the norm.

   Available only in two wheel drive - all-wheel drive is exclusively for Sport Nav trim CX-3s, think not of the GT as the go-anywhere CX-3, but rather, as the more entertaining one.

    Power comes from Mazda’s SKYACTIV-G 2.0 litre petrol engine providing 118 bhp and the promise of both the capability of 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds, and 47.9 mpg on the combined cycle, which surprisingly we actually got pretty close to – it’s not often you can say that. You do have to work this engine a little, and those used to turbo-chargers may miss the extra torque they provide, but when coupled to Mazda’s beautifully tactile 6-speed manual gearbox (an auto is available too) there’s no great hard-ship in doing so.  

     I’ll readily admit that I was a little apprehensive of just what kind of ride quality the CX-3 GT Sport was going to offer. Fashionably sized 18” alloys filling flared wheel-arches whilst wearing just smear of low-profile rubber rarely make for cosseting progress. Nevertheless, although taut, even on Shropshire’s worst surfaced of B-roads, the comfort levels raised little worry from driver or passengers.

    Of more concern perhaps is the amount of space available. Up-front The CX-3 offers similar accommodation to a family hatchback – and the nappa leather seats are a nice touch too - but its coupe-esque rear styling means that taller rear-seat passengers will find themselves brush the headlining. Three adults on the rear bench may also prove a squeeze too far. At 350 litres the boot-space is not exactly what you’d call cavernous either (and in some cases there’s a subwoofer where the spare wheel should be). Still, at least the rear seats fold flat when required. Overall then, practicality is not the CX-3 GT Sport’s forte.


   Like many a Mazda before it the CX-3 GT Sport’s trump card lies in the way it drives. The steering is light, direct, and accurate, and the gearbox, well that’s just lovely. There’s plenty of grip, little body roll, and for a crossover it all feels surprising nimble. Standard equipment levels are also generous: all CX-3’s get six airbags, stability control, and tyre pressure sensors whilst the GT Sport spec adds a head-up display, reversing camera, BOSE sound system, and even LED headlamps to the haul.  Everything you touch too feels nicely screwed together and built to last. 

    And the price?  At £22,895 upwards, for its size, the CX-3 GT Sport isn’t cheap. Buy the Sport Nav CX-3 instead if you really don’t need the GT Sport’s extra goodies and its questionable limited edition rarity/desirability. Do so and you’ll save £2000 in the process.

      But, in Mazda’s defence few other manufacturers do crossovers with the CX3’s style. Fewer still make them this nice to drive.



Mazda CX-3 2.0 SKYACTIV-G 120PS GT Sport

Engine: 1,998cc, 4Cyl, 16V Petrol

Transmission: 6 speed manual.  Front Wheel Drive

Power: 118.4 bhp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 150.5 lbft @ 2,800 rpm

0-62mph: 9.0 sec

Max Speed: 119 mph

MPG: 47.9 combined.

CO2: 137g/km

Price: from £22,895


Many thanks to Martine at Mazda’s UK press office for the loan of the CX-3 GT



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

Read More from Liam Bird