Nimble Mazda eager to be off on adventures
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