Mazda CX-3

 

    In world, or maybe at least a High Street, where a many an SUV/Crossover/call-them-what you will, seems to share the same somewhat boxy and upright lines as the next one, Mazda’s new CX3 certainly cuts a well-creased dash. Designed, Mazda say, to set a new dynamic benchmark, the CX-3 has been conceived under their “Jinba Ittai” or driver-and–car-as-one ethos that defines all recent Mazda products.

  Based on the same underpinnings yet longer, wider and needless to say taller than their similarly swoopy-styled 2 hatchback (itself new this year) the CX-3 is up against some pretty stiff competition: namely the likes of Vauxhall’s Mokka, Suzuki’s new Vitara, Nissan’s Juke (due to be replaced soon), the Renault Captur and even Skoda’s slightly bigger Yeti, to name but a few. But, that said, with an 18 variant line-up that incorporates SE, SE Nav, SE-L, SE-L Nav and Sport Nav variants Mazda certainly seem to have all bases covered - and then some. The CX-3 is also available with either two, or four-wheel drive - although all-wheel drive sadly is only for those who can stretch to the range-topping Sport Nav trim

    Power is by either Mazda’s SKYACTIV-G 2.0 litre petrol engine with either 118 bhp or 148bhp, or the torquier and more frugal (diesel’s 70.6mpg plays petrol’s 47.9mpg) 103bhp 1.5 litre SKYACTIVE-D diesel that first saw light in the Mazda 2. Both are available with either 6-speed manual or (optional) 6-speed automatic transmission.

    Now, despite what you might think it’s the two-wheel drive petrol that, Mazda predict, will account for the bulk of UK sales. So that’s perhaps why they sent me a rather fetching Mica coloured 2.0 litre 120PS 2WD Sport Nav when I asked if I they’d be kind enough to lend me one.

    I’ll readily admit that I was a little apprehensive of what kind of ride quality the CX-3 was going to offer when it arrived complete with 18” alloys filling it’s flared wheel-arches; fashionable rims and just smear of low-profile rubber rarely make for comfortable progress and lesser–specced CX-3’s 16 inch wheels and taller tyres I’m reliably informed make for a cushier, more SUV-like ride. Nevertheless, although taut, even on Shropshire B-roads, the Sport Nav’s comfort levels raised no concern, neither from me or my passengers.

    Of more concern perhaps is the amount of space available. Up-front The CX-3 offers similar accommodation to a family hatch but its coupe-esque rear styling means that taller rear-seat passengers will brush the headlining. Three teenagers across the back-seat may also prove a squeeze too far. At 350 litres the boot-space too is not exactly what you’d call cavernous either, and in some cases there’s a subwoofer where the spare wheel should be. At least the rear seats fold flat when required.

   Like many a Mazda though the CX-3 proves entertaining and engaging to drive. The direct steering is light, and accurate, and the gearbox shifts precisely. There’s plenty of grip, little body roll and for a crossover it feels surprising nimble. Standard equipment levels are also generous: all CX-3’s get six airbags, stability control, and tyre pressure sensors whilst higher spec add a head-up display, reversing camera and even LED headlamps to the haul.  Everything too feels built to last. 

    And the price?  The CX-3 isn’t cheap. Prices start at a £17,595 and rise to almost £25,000 for the AWD Sport Nav Diesel Auto. But, in Mazda’s defence few other manufacturers do crossovers that come with such a generous haul of goodies as standard (all models get DAB, air-con, Bluetooth, and touchscreen info-tainment) and feel this nice to drive.

Fewer still do them with this much style.

 

 

Mazda CX-3 2.0 120PS 2WD Sport Nav

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

Transmission: 6 speed manual.  Front Wheel Drive

Power: 118.4 bhp @ 6000rpm

Torque: 150.5 lbft @ 2800 rpm

0-62mph: 9.0 sec

Max Speed: 119 mph

MPG: 47.9 combined.

CO2: 137g/km

Price: from £20,495 (car driven £21,035)

 

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

www.liam-bird.com

@bird_liam

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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.

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