Mazda’s mighty mini crossover

Wales On Sunday - - MOTOR WALES - PA­TRICK JAMES news­desk@waleson­

WHEN you have a win­ner on your hands, chang­ing it can be fraught with dan­ger. If it ain’t broke, don’t mend it, if you like. Such is the case with the new Mazda CX-3, al­ready a stun­ning look­ing and prac­ti­cal mini crossover SUV.

It is a real head turner and of­fers a choice of en­gines and trim, not to men­tion Mazda’s SKYACTIV tech­nol­ogy which is de­signed to cut harm­ful CO2 and NOx emis­sions.

It is an im­por­tant car for Mazda, so changes both in­side and out are evo­lu­tion­ary rather than rev­o­lu­tion­ary.

Also, with diesels strug­gling to re­cover from emis­sions scan­dals and the car buy­ing pub­lic re­luc­tant to pur­chase them, the in­tro­duc­tion of a new 1.8 litre oil burner is a brave move.

Of­fer­ing at­trac­tive fuel con­sump­tion and low­ish emis­sions, it makes its de­but along­side two petrol units of­fer­ing cut­ting edge pis­ton tech­nol­ogy.

Up­grades now in­clude new alu­minium al­loy wheels, up­dated front grille, LED rear com­bi­na­tion lamps and a strik­ing new op­tional colour, Soul Red Crys­tal, which also adorns the cir­cu­lar air vents and con­trols

The re­vamped in­te­rior still cen­tres around what Mazda calls its hu­man­cen­tred phi­los­o­phy and the Ja­panese de­sign tra­di­tion of elim­i­nat­ing ex­cess, to cre­ate a com­fort­able, er­gonom­i­cally ex­cel­lent cabin en­vi­ron­ment with an over­all am­bi­ence of so­phis­ti­cated co­or­di­na­tion and pre­mium qual­ity.

It sounds good, what­ever it means, but there is no doubt that driver and pas­sen­gers feel com­fort­able in a log­i­cal, well-laid out in­te­rior with con­trols and di­als in­tu­itively placed.

The cen­tre­piece is a seven inch screen with in­te­grated sat nav, in­fo­tain­ment and con­nec­tiv­ity for both Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid, se­lected from a cir­cu­lar con­troller on the cen­tre con­sole.

Ex­tra room has been freed up with an elec­tric park­ing brake and a padded arm­rest with a con­sole box be­neath has been added. The cup holder has also been repo­si­tioned for eas­ier ac­cess, while a cen­tral arm­rest with built-in cup hold­ers has also been added for the rear seats.

In ad­di­tion, safety fea­tures in­clude smart radar con­trolled brak- ing, which can de­tect pedes­tri­ans a night and radar cruise con­trol which de­tect the prox­im­ity of other ve­hi­cles.

We drove the 115ps diesel and the 150ps petrol en­gine in man­ual and auto form. There is also a choice of two and four wheel drive.

The car was put through its paces on a com­bi­na­tion of twist­ing moun­tain roads, long mo­tor­way stretches and de­mand­ing nar­row track roads in south­ern Spain. Here, the mini crossover fur­ther demon­strated why it has be­come Mazda’s sec­ond best sell­ing model in Europe.

Its up­rated front MacPher­son strut and rear tor­sion beam sus­pen­sion sys­tems com­bine with op­ti­mised GVec­tor­ing Con­trol (GVC) to im­prove hand­ing and ride com­fort.

New coil springs and dampers have been fit­ted to both front and rear sys­tems meant it felt com­posed and ag­ile on bends. Im­proved in­su­la­tion to cabin head­lin­ers, thicker door pan­els and glaz­ing means wind and road noise has been re­duced.

The only draw­back with both petrol and diesel was that both got a bit noisy un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion par­tic­u­larly on the steeper Span­ish hill climbs, with petrol, in auto mode sound­ing like a CVT. How­ever, there were three adults and three small suit­cases on board, so it was pulling quite a weight.

It calmed down on less de­mand­ing in­clines and over­all en­gine noise was kept to a min­i­mum.

Mazda says all three pow­er­trains tar­get re­spon­sive­ness and speed con­trol that match driver in­puts as closely as pos­si­ble to en­hance the firm’s ‘Jinba It­tai’ driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

All three en­gines are ho­molo­gated ac­cord­ing to the re­quire­ments of the new WLTP/RDE test cy­cle, and meet Euro 6d-TEMP emis­sions reg­u­la­tions.

Emis­sions run from 140g/km to 160g/km for the petrol mod­els with the new diesel – which is priced from £22,895 – at 114g/km.

That equates to be­tween 41 and 47 to the gal­lon for the petrol ver­sions and al­most 66mpg for the diesel.

Sur­pris­ingly, the car has Tardis-like qual­i­ties, de­spite it out­ward com­pact ap­pear­ance. Even a six footer has plenty of legroom and enough head­room while in the rear. The boot also com­fort­ably swal­lowed up the three air­craft cabin-sized bags with ease and left some room to spare.

Per­for­mance re­sults are bench­marked against new Euro 6d-TEMP emis­sion stan­dards, in­clud­ing the real-drive emis­sion test (RDE). In other words CO2 emis­sions and real world miles per gal­lon con­sump­tion when ac­tu­ally on the road.

The fig­ures look promis­ing as does the fu­ture for this even bet­ter look­ing com­pact SUV.

The car is al­ready on sale in the UK, start­ing from £18,995 for a twowheel-drive 121ps SE Nav+ ris­ing to £24,995 for a 150ps AWD Sport Nav+ Auto.

The CX-3 was an ex­cel­lent car be­fore. It’s just got bet­ter.

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