Little bro makes big impact - Colin Smith | Bay of Plenty Times

17 April 2015
Colin Smith | Bay Of Plenty Times

Mazda is doubling its efforts in the fashionable compact SUV segment with the launch of the new CX-3.

As the designation suggests, the CX-3 is the smaller sibling to the very successful CX-5. It gives Mazda a compact crossover with very distinctive styling, modern technology and competitive pricing - a combination set to give the mid-$30k price bracket a real shake.

The CX-3's handsome proportions are something new and the latest evolution of Mazda's Kodo design theme catches the eye.

Key details are the narrow and sharply focused headlights, a slim and tapered glasshouse, relatively modest height and a high ratio of wheelbase to overall length. The stance of the CX-3 is further enhanced by large 18-inch diameter wheels on mid-grade and luxury models.

The cabin is set a little further back than is the norm for a crossover but this is further accentuated by pushing the peak of the front fenders rearward so they are beneath the base of the A-pillars.

The A-pillars are slim at the base and gain thickness as they rise upward while the blacked-out rear pillars have the effect of elongating the side windows.

Interestingly the CX-3 doesn't have the roof rails which are usually a signature of a crossover design.

An Auckland-Taupo press launch drive provided the opportunity to sample both engines being offered in the CX3. One is a known quantity - the 2.0-litre direct injection SkyActivG petrol unit also used in the Mazda 3, CX-5 and Mazda6 models.

It develops 109kW at 6000rpm and 192Nm of torque at 2800rpm and 2.0-litre performance will give Mazda a useful edge over many of its rivals in the compact crossover category.

Combined cycle fuel consumption is claimed at 6.1 litres per 100km for the frontwheel-drive models and 6.7L/100km for the AWD petrol model.

There's also a new engine making its Kiwi debut in the CX3. It's the 1.5-litre SkyActiv-D diesel producing 77kW at 4000rpm and peak torque of 270Nm from 1600-2500rpm.

Diesel versions are rated at 5.1L/100km.

The 2.0-litre petrol feels responsive and revs eagerly but for longer highway journeys and uphill runs the torque of the diesel comes to the fore with low-effort performance and fewer gear changes than the petrol versions.

I drove two Limited models at the press launch to sample both engines and some minor differences in driving dynamics between the front-drive and allwheel-drive models. The tyre choice on GSX and Limited models is a 215/50 R18 radial while the entry level GLX runs on 16-inch alloys with 215/60 size tyres.

Supportive seats combine with a slightly raised seating position for enhanced visibility and Mazda has engineered a consistent feel into the electrically assisted power steering.

The CX-3 might break some new ground for Mazda but it also goes about business by a familiar method.

The line-up of six models includes the usual GLX, GSX and Limited grades and as with the Mazda 3 and CX-5 the majority of sales volume will be accounted for by the mid-grade GSX models.

There are four petrol and two diesel models - all equipped with the six-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission offering Sport Mode drive selection.

There is a single 2.0-litre frontwheel-drive GLX model providing the $31,195 entry point and the luxury Limited grade offers a choice of petrol front-wheel-drive or diesel all-wheel-drive at $38,595 and $42,595 respectively.

It's the mid-grade GSX which is expected to provide about twothirds of sales volume and three GSX models are offered.

Mazda predicts 77 per cent of customers will choose frontwheel-drive and 92 per cent will choose petrol. The 2.0-litre GSX petrol at $34,695 is the most important model in the line-up.

The basics of the CX-3 equipment package kick off at GLX level with standard features including 16-inch alloy wheels, a roof spoiler, reversing camera, trip computer, single-zone air conditioning, keyless entry with push-button start, cloth-trim seats and a tilt and telescope-adjusting steering wheel.

All models feature the MZD Connect audio system with 7-inch colour touchscreen which provides Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, multi-function commander control and voice activation. Satellite navigation can be optioned on the GLX.

It's a $3500 step to the 2.0 GSX front-wheel-drive model with visual differences being the 18-inch alloy wheels and LED front fog lamps.

Along with satellite navigation, the GSX grade also introduces a leatherette and cloth seat trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear park sensor, proximity locking, climate control air conditioning, rain sensor wipers, auto headlights and a high grade instrument cluster.

The first level of the i-ActivSense safety technologies are included at GSX grade with blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. The GSX also gains the Active Driving Display head-up speedometer.

GSX is also available in petrol and diesel AWD models at $36,695 and $38,695 respectively.

Moving to Limited grade has a $3900 premium and introduces LED auto-levelling headlights as well as LED daytime running lights and LED tail lamps.

A seven-speaker Bose audio system and perforated leather trim in pure black or leather/suede combination is standard and the active safety package is enhanced with High Beam Control, Lane Departure Warning and Smart City Brake Support (Forward) functions.

The Mazda CX-3 is yet to be independently crash tested but Mazda says it is anticipating a 5-star rating.

Among the eight colours offered in the CX-3 range is the debut of a Ceramic Metallic choice. It has characteristics similar to both high-quality pottery and metallic surfaces to give an appearance of hardness as well as changing its appearance depending on how light hits it.

THE CX-3 MIGHT BREAK SOME NEW GROUND FOR MAZDA BUT IT ALSO GOES ABOUT BUSINESS BY A FAMILIAR METHOD.

MAZDA CX-3 LINE-UP 2.0 petrol GLX FWD $31,195 2.0 petrol GSX FWD $34,695 2.0 petrol GSX AWD $36,695 1.5 diesel GSX AWD $38,695 2.0 petrol Limited FWD $38,595 1.5 diesel Limited AWD $42,595

BT-50 commercialcare disclaimer

** is also available to new BT-50 owners where every scheduled service completed by Mazda specialist technicians for a 3 year/100,000km term (whichever wherever occurs first) will cost no more than $200 (incl. GST) per service for models built after 1 November 2012. *** 3,350kg applies to earlier models.

* whichever occurs first

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