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Car group tests

Mazda CX-3 vs Nissan Juke & Renault Captur

The Mazda CX-3 is the latest small crossover to arrive on the scene. Can it outgun two key rivals?

Mazda rather lagged behind the curve with the launch of its new CX-3 compact crossover, arriving years after cars like the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur had firmly established the class. 

Best crossovers on the market

Yet the public’s appetite for trendy crossovers is showing no sign of decline, and Mazda is renowned for delivering off-roaders that look good, are great to drive, offer frugal running costs and boast plenty of family-friendly practicality.

The larger CX-5 SUV is an Auto Express favourite, and with the CX-3, Mazda is hoping it’s applied that winning formula to a smaller model.

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Best SUVs to buy now

We’ve lined up two of its toughest rivals in the form of the stylish Juke and the practical Captur to give Mazda’s new model a stern test.

All three boast downsized diesel engines that claim strong efficiency. Plus, the cars offer something different to a conventional five-door supermini, as they focus on design and personalisation – thus enabling buyers to make their compact crossovers stand out from the crowd.

Can the CX-3 hit the ground running and go straight to the top of this highly competitive class? Read on to find out.

Mazda CX-3 review

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Nissan Juke review

Renault Captur review

Click the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to see which compact crossover is crowned winner of this test...

Head-to-head

Personalisation

Customisation is king in the crossover sector, but the Mazda loses ground to the Nissan and Renault, with less scope to personalise the car. However, the CX-3 looks the sharpest from the outside and feels more premium; particularly inside, where the Sport Nav trim gets contrasting upholstery.

Versatility

These cars are meant to offer practicality on par with a supermini. While the Captur and the CX-3 serve up even more usability, with lots of room inside and a commanding driving position, the Juke’s packaging is poor. No matter where you’re sat, it feels compromised.

Equipment

The Mazda might be pricey, but its kit count is the best of our trio. It’s the only one that gets LED headlamps and autonomous braking as standard, with upmarket features like heated seats and a reversing camera among the range of equipment.

Verdict

1st place: Mazda CX-3 

Its price might seem steep next to rivals, but the CX-3 justifies the gap thanks to its mix of great design, class and driving dynamics. It can’t match the Captur for versatility, but when it comes to mixing fashion-led styling with practicality, it’s more convincing than the ageing Juke. Of these high-spec models, it’s the CX-3’s kit list that’s the most appealing, too, with lots of safety features.

2nd place: Renault Captur 

Quality isn’t the Captur’s strongest suit, but with a functional interior sporting a few touches of design flair, it has just enough charm to relegate the Juke to third place. The spongy edge to how the Renault drives ensures it can’t compete with its rivals on the road, though. Instead, strong fuel economy and low running costs mean it appeals to the head more than the heart. 

3rd place: Nissan Juke

In this company, the Nissan feels outclassed dynamically and practically. The Juke’s mid-life update improved its good points further, but the poor packaging remains, which hampers its chances against fresher cars like the CX-3 and Captur. It’s still fun to drive, but factor in the car’s hefty price tag with Nissan’s styling add-ons and it makes the CX-3 look like good value.

Other options in this category…

Suzuki Vitara 1.6 DDiS SZ5

Price: £19,499Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 118bhp

Suzuki Vitara - front static

It might not be as stylish, but with more power and 106g/km CO2 emissions, the Vitara makes financial sense. The SZ5 model gets lots of kit, including keyless go, adaptive cruise, a reversing cam and sat-nav.

Citroen C4 Cactus Flair BlueHDi 100

Price: £18,090Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 98bhp

Citroen C4 Cactus cornering

If you want to stand out from the crowd, the Citroen C4 Cactus fits the bill. Its quirky design boasts Airbumps to help avoid car park door dings; it’s less powerful, but 92g/km CO2 emissions make for low running costs.

Key specs:

 Mazda CX-3 1.5 D Sport Nav 2WDRenault Captur 1.5 dCi Dynamique S NavNissan Juke 1.5 dCi Tekna Exterior+ Pack
On-the-road price/total as tested£21,895/£22,555£19,195/£19,785£20,325/£22,075
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£9,551/43.6%£8,951/46.6%£9,376/46.1%
Depreciation£12,344£10,244£10,949
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£830/£1,660£651/£1,302£770/£1,541
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,460/£2,433£1,392/£2,320£1,470/£2,450
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost15/£471/B/£2015/£452/A/£012/£544/B/£20
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£220/£350/£310£399 (3yrs)£159/£249/£159
    
Length/wheelbase4,275/2,570mm4,122/2,606mm4,135/2,530mm
Height/width1,535/1,765mm1,566/1,778mm1,565/1,765mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,499cc4cyl in-line/1,461cc4cyl in-line/1,461cc
Peak power104/4,000 bhp/rpm108/4,000 bhp/rpm108/4,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque270/1,600 Nm/rpm260/1,750 Nm/rpm260/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel48 litres/repair kit45 litres/repair kit46 litres/space saver
Boot capacity (seats up/down)287/1,197 litres377-455/1,235 litres354/1,189 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,200/610/1,200kg1,190/553/900kg1,305/465/1,250kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.4 metres/N/A10.4 metres/N/A10.7 metres/0.35Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/3yrs4yrs (100,000)/4yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers12,500 miles (1yr)/17018,000 miles (1yr)/15318,000 miles (1yr)/225
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.9th/12th*7th/14th*28th/25th*
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./starsN/A88/79/61/81//587/81/41/71/5
    
0-60/30-70mph10.0/10.2 seconds10.5/10.5 seconds10.9/11.6 seconds
30-50mph in 3rd/4th4.1/5.7 seconds4.0/5.5 seconds4.1/6.6 seconds
50-70mph in 5th/6th8.1/11.4 seconds8.2/11.1 seconds10.0/14.3 seconds
Top speed/rpm at 70mph110mph/2,000rpm109mph/2,200rpm109mph/2,200rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph55.3/39.0/9.7m56.2/38.6/9.0m54.6/37.0/9.3m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph71/52/65/72dB76/54/66/72dB76/54/64/73dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range45.2/9.9/477 miles47.4/10.4/469 miles44.9/9.9/454 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined64.2/74.3/70.6mpg72.4/74.3/65.7mpg61.4/72.4/68.9mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined14.2/16.3/15.5mpl15.5/17.3/16.8mpl13.5/15.9/15.1mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket167/105g/km/19%160/98g/km/17%%169/107g/km/19%
    
Airbags/Isofix/parking sens/cameraSix/yes/yes/yesSix/yes/yes/£250Six/yes/no/yes
Auto gearbox/stability/cruise controlNo/yes/yesNo/yes/yesNo/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/leatherette/yesYes/£830/noYes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go£540^/LED/yes£495/no/yes£500/£500/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/£240/yesYes/yes/yes/yes
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