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Mazda’s CX-3 reaching for top spot

18.02.2016

There is no denying that the new Mazda product portfolio is impressive, the Mazda2 and Mazda3 are great contenders within their respective segments while the CX-5 continues to impress in the sales charts. We are currently in the SUV era and therefore it is only good business practise for a manufacturer to get with the times. Enter the Mazda CX-3, the Japanese brands compact crossover.

From an exterior point of view I think that everyone will agree that this looks every bit the modern crossover part, with flowing lines, a sloping roofline and the familiar Mazda family face. My test unit looked particularly sporty with the silver and black 18-inch alloy wheels fitted.

Those familiar with new Mazda interiors will find no surprises with the same centre-mounted infotainment screen, the system itself features Bluetooth/USB compatibility as well as smartphone integration. I used the Stitcher internet radio streaming app on my phone through the apps compatibility with the Mazda infotainment system. That means that I had all of my favourite podcasts playing while I drove.

The build quality is also exceptional while I also noted a well laid out instrument cluster and steering wheel, the ergonomics are very Germanic.  Space inside is good for front occupants however I found the rear section to be slightly cramped while the boot is also very small at a shade over 260 litres. In fact, its Mazda3 sibling has a more capacious interior, which is strange considering the SUV-versions of vehicles normally operate on the premise of more space and an increased ride height.

Under the hood we find a 2.0 litre naturally aspirated motor with 115kW/204Nm on tap. I found that the unit was more than capable of getting me down the road however the automatic gearbox feels very old-school and, like in the Mazda3, when pushing on the vehicle sounds a bit strained. In terms of consumption I managed a figure of 7.8 litres/100km which is commendable on a mixed cycle.

The ride and handling is where the CX-3 impressed me though. I got the impression that I would be able to do long distance trips in the car, it just cruises very nicely. There is a drive select toggle near the gear lever which allows for a ‘Sport’ mode however I suggest leaving that alone and taking things easy, the car responds a lot better to that.

The model that I spent a week with was the range-topping 2.0 litre Individual automatic. It will set you back R325 900 which is reasonable for a vehicle with as much kit at the Individual variants receive however a quick gander at the rest of the range and I feel that the 2.0 litre auto in Dynamique trim represents better value at some R40 000 cheaper while only sacrificing LED lighting, cruise control, read park distance control and sat nav.

Verdict

The new CX-3 is very close to the top of the compact crossover pile for me, it is superbly built, well-priced, well-specified, looks good and performs and rides well too while its shortcomings are few and far between.

All CX-3 models come with a three year/ unlimited mileage warranty as well as a three year/ unlimited mileage service plan.

Article written by Sean Nurse
18.02.2016
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