Pack­age is su­perb, but lacks power

DRIV­ING IM­PRES­SION/ Mazda has added more kit to its CX-3 to co­in­cide with its re­cent facelift, writes Ler­ato Matebese

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

Mazda, a brand, has come a long way in re­cent years with mod­els such as the bril­liant MX5 ce­ment­ing it­self as one of the most fun, en­ter­tain­ing road­sters money can buy, pro­vided you buy the man­ual de­riv­a­tive.

In re­cent years, the com­pany has also proved it­self to be a par­tic­u­larly strong con­tender in the cross­over and SUV seg­ment, what with the CX-3 and the CX5 mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant in­roads in their seg­ments.

NEW GEN­ER­A­TION

as The CX-5, par­tic­u­larly the diesel de­riv­a­tive, is a great pack­age and the range will be re­placed by a new gen­er­a­tion in May.

A rung lower perches the CX-3, a com­pact hatch­back with pseudo off-road ad­denda in a sim­i­lar vein to the Volk­swa­gen Cross Polo.

In essence we can safely say the CX-3 is a Mazda 2 in ad­ven­ture drag. It all comes to­gether rather well though, with the model look­ing de­cid­edly mod­ern yet sporty, par­tic­u­larly in the In­di­vid­ual Plus spec­i­fi­ca­tion of our test car. Kit­ted out in 17-inch al­loy wheels with a chrome slat­ted grille and LED head­lights with day­time run­ning lights, the model strikes a con­tem­po­rary pose and will ap­pease those look­ing for a stylish hatch­back.

Those stylish looks spill into the cabin where grey Al­can­tara/ leather seats of­fer good com­fort and ad­just­ment. Ev­ery­thing is well laid out, with the qual­ity of ma­te­ri­als wor­thy of men­tion as there is an air of pre­mium so­phis­ti­ca­tion im­parted to the driver and pas­sen­gers alike.

What makes the In­di­vid­ual Plus model stand out is the added con­ve­nience spec­i­fi­ca­tion, in­clud­ing adap­tive head­lights, au­to­matic fold­ing mir­rors, Smart City Brak­ing Sup­port, driver at­ten­tion alert, blind spot mon­i­tor­ing and lane de­par­ture warn­ing — items that have un­til now been of­fered only in much more ex­pen­sive seg­ments.

I man­aged to put the blind spot mon­i­tor­ing and lane de­par­ture sys­tems to the test, the for­mer us­ing flash­ing amber lights on the side mir­rors to alert you of a car in the lane next to you, while the lat­ter flashes a sim­i­lar amber light in the in­stru­ment clus­ter to­gether with a warn­ing chime.

It would have been great to see how the Smart City Brak­ing Sup­port works, which is ideal for when re­vers­ing into or ap­proach­ing, nose first, a busy road or in­ter­sec­tion. Alas, I am so con­di­tioned to pay­ing at­ten­tion to my sur­round­ings while at the wheel that I never got around to putting this to the test, but it is great to know that it is there should the need arise.

As for the drive, I am still con­vinced that the Ja­panese mar­que needs to con­sider of­fer­ing a smaller-ca­pac­ity, tur­bocharged en­gine across the model range. In the in­stance of this flag­ship 2.0l In­di­vid­ual Plus on test, the en­gine of­fers lack­lus­tre per­for­mance, no doubt fur­ther foiled by the slug­gish-shift­ing six-speed au­to­matic gear­box.

Fuel con­sump­tion hov­ered around the 8.0l/100km mark, which is not par­tic­u­larly fru­gal in this seg­ment. As a stop­gap, un­til the com­pany de­vel­ops turbo petrol mo­tors, the 1.5 turbo diesel in the Mazda 2 would be a great of­fer­ing in this seg­ment.

FUNC­TION­AL­ITY

The CX-3 is a fan­tas­tic pack­age, a mod­ern bas­tion of style meet­ing func­tion­al­ity and high-qual­ity fin­ishes. The price of R380,600 is some­what steep for a car based on a Mazda 2 and not well en­dowed on the per­for­mance front.

The Toy­ota C-HR, ad­mit­tedly with less spec­i­fi­ca­tion, is a much live­lier drive and that, for me, places the CX-3 sec­ond to the CHR in this seg­ment.

The CX-3 is true style leader in the seg­ment. Be­low: The in­te­rior fea­tures su­perb de­sign and equip­ment.

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