New CX-3 plugs gap - John Maslin | Wanganui Chronicle

18 April 2015
John Maslin  | Wanganui Chronicle

FIRST MODEL IN NEW ZEALAND TO SPORT NEW DIESEL MOTOR CROSSING OVER: Apart from appealing exterior lines, the inside of the CX3 shows how a lot can be made from a little.

A t a time when the Kiwi car market enjoying a bullish run, manufacturers have to be on top of their game otherwise places in the pecking order are quickly and brutally usurped.

Mazda is well aware of the rules of engagement but in recent years has been raising the bar with its Generation6 range.

We've had the new Mazda6, Mazda 3, CX-5 and Mazda2 and all have lifted the bar higher. That the Mazda 3 was named car of the year last year was no fluke.

But there was a gap that needed filling and it was in the small compact crossover field. Step up Mazda's new CX-3.

In this humble writer's opinion, it is a stellar vehicle, either powered by its 2-litre petrol engine of the very torquey 1.5-litre turbo diesel. In fact this is the first model in New Zealand to sport this new diesel.

Our drive was in petrol and dieselpowered range-topping Limited models. While some preferred the petrol, my pick is that diesel.

The all-wheel drive set up means that model is heavier - at 1371kg some 112kg heavier in fact- but the diesel is the ideal foil.

With excellent fuel economy (5 litres per 100km on combined cycle) and minimal emissions, it's a pearler.

Indeed in Japan the diesel derivative is the only engine available which speaks volumes of its clean running.

Mazda designers have crafted something very special this time, creating a vehicle that flaunts seductive exterior lines coupled up with a cabin that sets a benchmark for sublime design.

A taste of the CX-3 carved off a mix of straightforward and testing roads between Auckland and Taupo last week and the crossover handled everything with assurance.

The CX-3 is offered in three variants - GLX, GSX and Limited - with some of those providing all-wheel drive and the choice of engine type.

And Mazda has done it was some impressive pricing as well. The entry level front-wheel drive GLX 2.0 kicks things off at a very modest $31,195 with prices topping out at $42,595 for the Limited all-wheel drive powered by the 1.5-litre diesel.

All are hooked up to a six-speed MAZDA DESIGNERS HAVE CRAFTED SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL THIS TIME, CREATING A VEHICLE THAT FLAUNTS SEDUCTIVE EXTERIOR LINES COUPLED UP WITH A CABIN THAT SETS A BENCHMARK FOR SUBLIME DESIGN.

auto transmission. That SKYACTIV-D engine develops 77kW (at 4000rpm) but it's the very leggy torque (270Nm from 1600-2500rpm) that stamps its mark.

And it's not just all about looks or performance because while the GLX doesn't boast a full range of equipment, stepping into the GSX variants starts to add in much of the smart technology that Mazda is putting into its vehicles.

Designed and built in Mazda's plant at Hiroshima in Japan, the CX-3 presents a serious challenge to others in this compact crossover field.

It makes the best possible use of a smallish wheelbase (2570mm) but the short front and rear overhangs are clear signs that the focus has been on maximising interior space in a total body length of 4275mm.

And by pushing the driver's and front passenger's seat outwards and raising the height of the rear seats, the designers have created an airy cabin with impressive visibility.

The boot space is not exceptional (264 litres with the rear seat up) but by removing the false floor you can grab a few more EASILY ACCESSIBLE litres. CLEARANCE, EXCEL Given the CX-3 is AND PERFORMANC targeted at young THIS IS NO BOX ON couples with one or VERY ACCOMPLISH no kids and the MOTORING WORK.

"empty nesters", it is an ideal five-door.

Specification levels vary across the range with the GSX and Limited models getting the heads-up Active Driving Display, climate air, sat-nav, parking sensors and rear cross traffic alert.

The Limited adds a few extras including Bose sound system, smart city brake function, headlight high beam control and lane departure warning.

Mazda has introduced a new colour with the CX-3. It's Ceramic Metallic, a deep, rich white with a stunning sheen.

While the GLX rides on 16-inch alloys, the GSX and Limited models get 18-inch machined alloys which certainly enhance the visual appeal.

Michio Tomiyana, programme manager for the CX-3 project, was over from Mazda's head office and he told motoring writers that they believed this model had "hit the sweet spot".

He said the CX-3 was started from a blank canvas and believed the result is a car that has set the standard for the next era.

But he said what , GOOD GROUND they didn't want to LLENT VISIBILITY create was a vehicle E AND NIMBLE, that was simply a WHEELS. IT IS A smaller CX-5 or a ED PIECE OF sport utility vehicle based on a Mazda2.

"We believe we've created a vehicle that defies the category it's in," he said.

This new model has generated a deal of market interest before its launch and Mazda NZ reckons it will sell about 100 units a month this year. The bulk (65 per cent ) will be the GSX model, with the Limited grabbing 25 per cent and the entry level GLX the remainder. And they expect 77 per cent of sales to favour the front-wheel drive models.

By my reckoning, 1200 units is a very conservative target because the new CX-3 is something a very special.

Easily accessible, good ground clearance, excellent visibility and performance and nimble, this is no box on wheels. It is a very accomplished piece of motoring work.

EASILY ACCESSIBLE, GOOD GROUND CLEARANCE, EXCELLENT VISIBILITY AND PERFORMANCE AND NIMBLE, THIS IS NO BOX ON WHEELS. IT IS A VERY ACCOMPLISHED PIECE OF MOTORING WORK.

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

Advertisement