Dis­tinc­tive SUV has plenty of CX ap­peal

The facelifted Mazda CX-3 range has dropped the diesels, but gained plenty of safety spec­i­fi­ca­tions, re­ports Rob Maet­zig.

The Timaru Herald - - MOTORING -

In the mid­dle of this year, Mazda New Zealand did some­thing quite sig­nif­i­cant with its CX-3 small SUV – it stopped sell­ing diesel mod­els.

Lack of de­mand was the rea­son be­hind this de­ci­sion.

As sev­eral other car com­pa­nies have ex­pe­ri­enced, the in­creas­ing cost of New Zealand’s road user charges on diesel mod­els is re­sult­ing in fewer and fewer mo­torists be­ing both­ered with them. In­stead, they’re find­ing it far more con­ve­nient to own a petrol ve­hi­cle.

In the case of the CX-3, although it was a smooth lit­tle op­er­a­tor, it was around 100kg heav­ier than its petrol-en­gined equiv­a­lent, which made it a lot slower.

But as they say, when one door closes an­other one of­ten opens. And Mazda NZ has made sure this can hap­pen with the CX-3 by giv­ing the petrol mod­els a sub­stan­tial facelift, in­tro­duc­ing them at the same time as it has dropped the diesels.

The com­pany has also in­creased the se­lec­tion of petrol mod­els, in­clud­ing a ‘‘leather’’ ver­sion of the mid-spec GSX model. So now there are five petrol CX-3s to choose from – GLX, GSX, GSX Leather and Lim­ited mod­els with front-wheel drive, and one GSX with all-wheel drive.

So guess what CX-3 we’ve just been driv­ing? We’ll give you a clue – it’s not a diesel.

Ac­tu­ally, it’s the Lim­ited, which is the CX-3 that has ben­e­fited the most from the facelift be­cause it has re­ceived the whole suite of safety, driv­ing dy­nam­ics and spec­i­fi­ca­tion en­hance­ments that are in­cluded in more lim­ited form in the lesser mod­els.

All the CX-3s now have Mazda’s ex­cel­lent G-Vec­tor­ing Con­trol which finely con­trols engine torque based on steer­ing and ac­cel­er­a­tor in­puts, and that re­sults in im­proved han­dling and ride com­fort dur­ing cor­ner­ing.

But the sys­tem is also now aboard ev­ery other Mazda pas­sen­ger car on sale in New Zealand, so th­ese days it is no big deal – just part of the very good safety sys­tems aboard the brand’s ve­hi­cles.

What is spe­cial about the Lim­ited ver­sion of the CX-3 is that it comes with all the i-Ac­tivSense tech­nolo­gies seen in the likes of the Mazda3 and Mazda6 and which help in recog­nis­ing haz­ards, avoid­ing crashes and re­duc­ing the sever­ity of im­pacts.

They in­clude Ad­vanced Smart City Brake Sup­port which op­er­ates when the ve­hi­cle is go­ing for­ward at speeds up to 80kmh and back­wards up to 8kmh, and if it judges that a col­li­sion is go­ing to oc­cur, it ei­ther primes the brakes for a faster re­sponse or takes over the brak­ing al­to­gether.

The Lim­ited also has Radar Cruise Con­trol which au­to­mat­i­cally ad­justs ve­hi­cle speed to main­tain a safe dis­tance from a ve­hi­cle ahead, and Driver At­ten­tion Alert.

All th­ese so-called ac­tive safety fea­tures are help­ful, and its nice to know they’re there. The Lim­ited also boasts Traf­fic Sign Recog­ni­tion which de­tects the road signs and dis­plays them on a new full-colour Ac­tive Driv­ing Dis­play which flips up above the in­stru­ment bin­na­cle so it is right in the driver’s line of sight.

So does all of this help make the facelifted CX-3 Lim­ited a bet­ter drive?

The G-Vec­tor­ing Con­trol cer­tainly does, and so does a few other im­prove­ments in­clud­ing a re­tun­ing of the elec­tric power steer­ing to give the driver bet­ter feed­back dur­ing turn­ing, and the front and rear dampers have also been ad­justed in the in­ter­ests of bet­ter driv­ing sta­bil­ity.

The CX-3 has al­ways been an in­ter­est­ing and highly ap­peal­ing Mazda. Built on the same plat­form as the Mazda2 hatch and es­sen­tially with the Mazda2 dash­board, it is a large enough


The facelifted Mazda CX-3 Lim­ited, now chock-full of safety spec­i­fi­ca­tions. Although changes to the CX-3’s ex­te­rior are min­i­mal, it re­mains one of the best­look­ing small SUVs around.

Quite a bit has been done to the CX-3’s in­te­rior. At the Lim­ited level there’s this nice two-tone leather up­hol­stery.

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