Nim­ble Mazda ea­ger to be off on ad­ven­tures

Macclesfield Express - - SEARCH -

MANY peo­ple say their cars have a ‘per­son­al­ity’ – my daugh­ter even gives her’s a name – and our test mo­tor this week is a good case in point.

For the new Mazda CX-3 is a bit like the An­drex TV ad puppy… small, cute and al­ways ea­ger to be off on an ad­ven­ture.

The sprightly com­pact cross­over (a baby brother to the pop­u­lar CX-5) has had rave re­views from the first UK jour­nal­ists to get be­hind the wheel since its launch in June, where they par­tic­u­larly praised the sporty in­te­rior and cut­ting-edge body­work.

How­ever, the baby Mazda needs to be good as it is up against the likes of the Peugeot 2008, Re­nault Cap­tur, SSangYong Tivoli and Nis­san Juke.

Un­like some of its ri­vals, the CX-3 is avail­able with two and four-wheel drive, al­though the lat­ter only on top-spec Sport Nav mod­els.

There’s a choice of two en­gines – one petrol and one diesel – and both are fru­gal with the go-juice. In two-wheel drive guise, the 2.0-litre petrol pro­duces 118bhp and a more pow­er­ful 148bhp model is avail­able with four-wheel drive.

A six-speed man­ual gear­box is stan­dard on all mod­els, while a six-speed au­to­matic is avail­able and was fit­ted to our test 2WD Sport Nav ver­sion.

There is also en­try-level SE and SE-L trim lev­els and all ver­sions get air-con­di­tion­ing, al­loy wheels, Blue­tooth and a touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem that in­cludes a DAB ra­dio. The SE-L adds cli­mate con­trol, heated front seats, lane de­par­ture warn­ing and emer­gency brak­ing while the Sport Nav gets sat-nav (which is not par­tic­u­larly post­code friendly), LED head­lamps, a head-up dis­play, key­less en­try and a Bose au­dio sys­tem. Both SE and SE-L mod­els can be spec­i­fied with sat-nav for an ex­tra £600.

On the road the CX-3 seems ea­ger to get go­ing, thanks to what is a rel­a­tively large en­gine for a com­pact cross­over. At 2.0-litres it is con­sid­er­ably big­ger than the 1.4 or 1.6 petrol units used by the op­po­si­tion, al­though the lack of a tur­bocharger equals things up some­what.

Even so the CX-3 is fairly fru­gal, turn­ing in 49mpg on the com­bined cy­cle - which is good for a petrol en­gine of this size that can de­liver 0-62 in un­der 10 sec­onds and hit a top speed of 116.

Stan­dard kit on the Sport Nav also in­cludes one of my favourite Mazda fea­tures, su­perquick heated front seats, as well as 18-inch ‘gun­metal’ al­loy wheels, re­vers­ing cam­era, adap­tive head­lights, ‘sport’ or ‘in­tel­li­gent’ driv­ing modes and our test car’s op­tional ex­tras were smart metal­lic red paint­work and a lovely half-leather in­te­rior with red de­tail­ing.

The range starts from £17,595 for the petrol 2WD SE up to £24,695 for the top-of-the-range Sport Nav 4x4. Our 2WD Sport Nav Auto is £21,695 on-the-road, which was taken up by just un­der a grand for the fit­ted ex­tras men­tioned above.

Mazda re­mains one of Europe’s fastest-grow­ing car mak­ers, with sales up by 29 per cent year-onyear. It sold just un­der 60,000 ve­hi­cles be­tween July and Septem­ber, eas­ily out­pac­ing an over­all mar­ket that was up by 10.6pc. The com­pany says its new, fourth-gen­er­a­tion MX-5 and the CX-3 were help­ing to drive sales up.

Reg­u­lar read­ers will re­call my Mazda own­er­ship his­tory with a Mk 1 RX7 in the ‘big boys toy box’ for al­most 20 years and the car al­ways im­pressed me with the way that ev­ery knob, switch and but­ton worked per­fectly, de­spite its age.

That rep­u­ta­tion for build qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity con­tin­ues into the lat­est mod­els with Maz­das voted num­ber one over­all in the 2015 J.D. Power Ve­hi­cle Depend­abil­ity Study.

My week with the en­thu­si­as­tic lit­tle CX-3 proved fun as its ex­cel­lent han­dling, sharp steer­ing and ea­ger pow­er­plant made light work of both town and mo­tor­way driv­ing.

●» The Mazda CX-3 is the baby brother of the CX-5

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