24 April 2015
Colin Smith | Hamilton News
Mazda launches new CX-3 compact crossover
When a carmaker fast tracks the renewal of (almost) its entire vehicle line in the space of less than three years, some clever things become possible.
Mazda says the new CX-3 completes its sixth-generation model family - although technically New Zealand must wait for the new MX-5 roadster before Gen-6 is fully up and running and the big CX-9 falls outside the sixth generation family.
By sixth generation Mazda means the cars employing its "Kodo - Soul of Motion" design theme and SkyActiv technologies which kicked off with the genthree Mazda6 and has since delivered the CX-5, Mazda 3, Mazda2 and now the CX-3.
Whether you study dimensions, the pricing structure or performance levels, there's a logical progression through the Mazda showroom.
A new Mazda2 has a $21,745 entry point while the arrival of the CX-3 covers a price band from $31,195 to $42,595.
That means the base model CX3 2.0 GLX is $1600 less than the Mazda 3 GLX hatch with the same 2.0-litre engine and very similar specification. The larger CX-5 family begins at $39,745 in GLX spec. If the price structure is tidy the dimensions of Mazda's new cars are very neatly trimmed to fit as well. And that had been one of the question marks over the CX3 until seeing the car in the flesh and taking a look inside.
There had been a temptation to read the 2570m wheelbase measurement and conclude the CX-3 is simply a jacked up Mazda2. It's important to remember the Mazda 3 and CX-5 also share a common wheelbase (2700m) but they feel and drive like quite different vehicles.
The same turns out to be true with a Mazda2 versus CX-3 comparison.
The CX-3 is 215mm longer and 70mm wider than the Mazda2. The greater width and the fact its only 55mm taller than the little hatch is a key contributor to the CX-3's wide-track stance and the surefooted driving experience.
Compared with a Mazda 3 hatchback the new CX-3 is 185mm shorter with the wheelbase being 130mm less. CX-3 is 30mm narrower but 85mm taller.
Measure up the CX-3 against the CX-5 and there are some significant differences. The newcomer is 265mm shorter and 75mm narrower but most notably has a much lower silhouette - a full 160mm lower than the CX-5.
Compared with small SUV/ crossover rivals the CX-3 measures up closely with the Mitsubishi ASX. The ASX is 20mm longer although its wheelbase is actually 100mm greater. It's 5mm wider but 65mm taller.
The Peugeot 2008 is slightly smaller - but taller - and the Kia Sportage is slightly bigger while another similar-size rival is the Holden Trax. The Mitsubishi starts from $36,990, the Peugeot 2008 from $31,990, the Kia Sportage $34,240 and the Trax $32,990.
First impressions of the Mazda CX-3 reveal the effort put into exterior styling, driving comfort and genuinely impressive finish.
But don't be entirely distracted by the pretty stuff because equally significant attributes of the CX-3 are the choice of dimensions and price.
It's a made-to-measure fit in the new Mazda family and carefully tailored to take on small crossover contenders.