Mazda to shake up cross­over sales

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - AL­WYN VILJOEN

WITH more peo­ple opt­ing for smaller cars, many SUV buy­ers are also look­ing at crossovers in­stead, and there is no short­age of mod­els that pro­vide both eye-candy and gravel road abil­ity.

The Nis­san Juke is still a head turner, the Fi­at500X does cute. with ag­gro and Ford’s Ecosport is rewrit­ing all the rules with sus­tained de­mand.

But no cross­over has drawn so much at­ten­tion from those in the know as the Mazda CX3.

Wheels can re­veal this com­pact, but beau­ti­fully pro­por­tioned mix be­tween sport car and ute will soon be launched in SA — and this will just add to the woes of the fac­tory that al­ready can­not meet de­mand.

Car Bay in Malaysia re­ports the CX3 has be­come so pop­u­lar in both Aus­tralia and the East that Mazda ran out of ca­pac­ity at the Hiroshima plant and the lit­tle ute with the big pres­ence is now also built at the Au­toAl­liance plant in Ray­ong, Thai­land. It is not yet clear from which plant the South African mod­els will be shipped, but as Mazda states on its web­site, “there’s never been an SUV that can move you like this.”

In Aus­tralia, where the CX3 is al­ready sold, the writers at Car

and Driver said, “The CX-3 steers with pre­ci­sion, cor­ners with aplomb, and scoots down the road with a verve that is al­most univer­sally ab­sent among crossovers.

“Tog­gle the Sport mode and the quick-shift­ing au­to­matic trans­mis­sion takes on Porscheesque logic, down­shift­ing as you brake for an up­com­ing cor­ner.

“With­out ques­tion, Mazda has built the driver’s car — er, cross­over — in this bur­geon­ing seg­ment.”

Mazda states this “nat­u­ral agility” comes from its Sky­ac­tiv tech­nol­ogy, which are Mazda’s range of nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gines that per­form as if they have vari­able vane tur­bos.

A unique pis­ton de­sign im­proves com­bus­tion to boost power and lower emis­sions. Re­duced fric­tion lib­er­ates ex­tra power, while a 4-2-1 ex­haust lay­out lifts ef­fi­ciency.

The 4-cylin­der en­gine de­liv­ers a sporty 115 kW of power and 204 Nm of torque; us­ing as lit­tle as 6.5 litres of fuel ev­ery 100 km*.

With no turbo to burn ex­tra fuel faster comes out­stand­ing fuel econ­omy in petrol.

In­side the cabin, Mazda’s call Blue­tooth MZD Con­nect links the car to the In­ter­net.

It is not only a looker ei­ther. Un­der those pumped flanks, an ex­tremely strong body struc­ture in­te­grates SRS airbags en­sur­ing su­perb pro­tec­tion.

Mazda states the con­fi­dent grasp on the road that so im­pressed the scribes Down Un­der is aided by Dy­namic Sta­bil­ity Con­trol (DSC) with Trac­tion Con­trol Sys­tem (TCS).

In­no­va­tive Anti-lock Brak­ing Sys­tem (ABS) brakes fea­ture Elec­tronic Brake-force Dis­tri­bu­tion (EBD) which matches brak­ing to ve­hi­cle load, while Emer­gency Brake As­sist (EBA) boosts stop­ping power when emer­gency brak­ing is sensed.

At Bar­loworld Mazda in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, the word is the CX3 is only ex­pected at month end, but cus­tomers can al­ready reg­is­ter their in­ter­est to be first in line for when this much an­tic­i­pated cross­over ar­rives.

How the new Mazda will af­fect the ram­pant sales of the Ford Ecosport re­mained to be seen, but in a mar­ket where sales are gen­er­ally ex­pected to be at least eight per­cent down, buy­ers with good-con­di­tion trade-ins are king and they can ex­pect red car­pet treat­ment at both the Ford and Mazda deal­er­ships.

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The Mazda CX3 is will give con­tenders in the cross­over niche a shakeup with ex­cel­lent hand­ing and those drop-dead gor­geous lines.

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