Well re­freshed

Mazda’s small SUV sings new song

Rutherglen Reformer - - Motors -

The UK’s Mazda press of­fice is known for its abil­ity to pro­vide chal­leng­ing drives and this lat­est epic was no dif­fer­ent – a 650-mile drive in Nor­way spread over two days through some of the most spec­tac­u­lar scenery you can find any­where.

You might not think that is a great dis­tance and I cer­tainly have cov­ered more miles in a sin­gle day, but no mo­tor­ways were in­volved and the twist­ing routes called for more than 10 hours in the car each day.

The re­sult was that I had plenty of time to sam­ple the re­freshed CX-3, the com­pany’s small SUV which first ar­rived with us in 2015.

Most of the im­prove­ments and al­ter­ations to the small Crossover can’t be seen as they in­volve tech­nol­ogy up­dates and other changes but they com­bine to make the CX-3 a more re­fined mo­tor.

A new flag­ship GT Sport spe­cial edi­tion model lim­ited to just 500 cars joins the range and fea­tures the same equip­ment as the top Sport Nav model but adds unique styling cues and plusher in­te­rior trim.

The range now starts at £18,945, while the GT Sport costs £22,895 with a man­ual box and £24,095 with an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

Across the 13-model range the CX-3 now gets Mazda’s G-Vec­tor­ing con­trol sys­tem to im­prove the cars han­dling, while small al­ter­ations have also been made to the suspension to pro­vide a more com­fort­able ride.

The new CX-3 is also con­sid­er­ably qui­eter thanks to ad­di­tional sound in­su­la­tion.

Safety has also been im­proved with the au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing sys­tem stan­dard on SE-L trim ve­hi­cles and above now us­ing a cam­era to de­tect ob­sta­cles. It works at speeds up to 50mph and the ve­hi­cle col­li­sion avoid­ance thresh­old is now raised to 31mph.

The CX-3 has al­ways of­fered gen­er­ous equip­ment lev­els through­out the range and the up­dates mean that power fold­ing mir­rors are now stan­dard across the en­tire range as is a new steer­ing wheel which is also heated in Sport Nav cars.

As be­fore, a va­ri­ety of petrol and diesel models are avail­able, as is two and four-wheel-drive.

My drive was tack­led in the tweaked 1.5-litre tur­bod­iesel model which now fea­tures Tran­sient Con­trol to give a more pos­i­tive throt­tle re­sponse by re­duc­ing turbo lag and boost­ing torque, cre­at­ing an al­most petrol like en­gine feel.

The en­gine is also a lot qui­eter than be­fore thanks to other noise re­duc­tion changes and at £21,395 in SE-L Nav trim is the sen­si­ble buy in the range. It of­fers a claimed com­bined fig­ure of 70.6mpg with emis­sions of 105g/km.

Per­for­mance is more than ad­e­quate and the cabin has room for four adults and is nicely fin­ished in qual­ity ma­te­ri­als.

The route from Sta­vanger in the south to Trond­heim in the north in­cluded no fewer than 68 tun­nels – The Laerdal be­ing the long­est road tun­nel in the world at 24.5 kilo­me­tres, and the world’s deep­est The Eik­sund tun­nel – both in­cred­i­ble feats of en­gi­neer­ing.

Nu­mer­ous ferry trips also broke the jour­ney but I was al­ways happy to get be­hind the wheel.

Much of the jour­ney was tack­led in foul weather but the CX-3 was up to the chal­lenge and even the mighty Trolls’ Lad­der’s 11 hair­pins were dis­missed with ease de­spite vis­i­bil­ity be­ing down to a few me­tres.

My jour­ney ended on the breath­tak­ing At­lantic Road which lasts only eight kilo­me­tres but fea­tures some truly im­pres­sive cause­ways, viaducts and eight bridges to link nu­mer­ous small is­lands.

Mazda’s ‘Fun to Drive’ phi­los­o­phy re­sults in all their prod­ucts be­ing good to drive and the lat­est CX-3 is no ex­cep­tion. It may be much more re­fined than be­fore but it still of­fers great looks and a sporty drive.

Ready to roar The CX-3 has al­ways of­fered gner­ous equip­ment lev­els

Easy street The `Mazda CX-3 Crossover on the sharp bends

Dream drive The Mazda loved the wilds of Nor­way

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