01 March 2019
NZ Company Vehicle, New Zealand
ft is a source of amazement to many drivers as to how much 'stuff a car manufacturer can jam into the smallest of vehicle bodies.
An excellent demonstration of this comes from Mazda with its smallest crossover - the CX-3 - a vehicle you might think is an extension of the popular Mazda 3 hatchback.
That would be logical, but surprisingly incorrect. The CX-3 is based on the same platform as Mazda's supermini Mazda2.
In comparison with the Mazda2 donor, the CX-3 looks longer and taller yet feels more compact inside, mostly because it is bursting with bits 'n bobs to the extent that you think you're in a much larger vehicle.
Like pretty much every new Mazda, the CX-3 is SKYACTIV-enhanced in the across-the-range, two litre petrol engine and six-speed automatic transmission match, it's driving dynamics, body and chassis design.
Every component which comes under the SKYACTIV umbrella, has been designed with the synergy between the driver and the vehicle in mind.
This sounds like marketing spin, but there is no denying there is - up till now anyway - an unexplainable difference in the drive of a SKYACTIV Mazda against anything else.
SKYACTIV enhancement is as good an explanation for that as anything else.
At entng else - and it happens to be try level, the CX-3 loses some of the really trick kit, but it's comprehensive just the same. We suspect the "onefloor up" GSX will be the model most would opt for anyway.
From the GSX model on up, CX-3 features Mazda's latest safety tech in the form of the full-on i-ACTIVSENSE safety package as found in the newly released CX-8.
What is i-ACTIVSENSE?
It reads like a 'Me Too' list of safety features, but in Mazda's case, all the tech works exactly as advertised, with no halfway measures.
It's taken a while for Mazda to get this kit together, but that's because every system has been Mailed to the point of exhaustion, and it all works, unlike some other manufacturers whose systems are not so robust.
The safety package includes: blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, along with Mazda's proprietary Advanced Smart City Brake Support with Pedestrian Detection, Smart Brake Support and Forward Obstruction Warning, Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop and Go Function and Traffic Sign Recognition systems.
Underlying this is of course, dynamic stability control, ABS brakes, front and rear parking sensors, traction control, hill launch assist, front, side and curtain airbags, electronic brake force distribution, emergency brake control and in the case of the AWD model, i-ACTIVR all wheel drive.
To drive, the CX-3 is quiet, smooth and - while being understandably weightier in handling than the Mazda2 adds an element of durability the lightweight hatch lacks.
There were times when the range standard two-litre engine delivered with reluctance, but that was at the extreme edge of the envelope.
Day-to-day driving will see the 1998cc four-potter truck around all day long without complaint.
Long distance open road touring is fine too, though the standard Toyo Proxes tyres aren't fond of coarse chip from an audible standpoint.
The generally appealing design may not quite be timeless, but you'll be more than happy with it over a standard lease term and in all honesty, probably longer than that. Some have credited the CX-3 as being one of Mazda's best visually appealing vehicles, which is saying a lot.
Overall, the Mazda CX-3 is a great option for those looking to downsize from the big crossover without specification penalty and it's a brilliant step up from a hatchback pool car.