Friday 24 November 2017

Mazda shows its muscle

The CX-3 stands out with fun and beauty in equal measure

IN THE RED CORNER: Mazda’s CX-3 gave faultless handling
IN THE RED CORNER: Mazda’s CX-3 gave faultless handling

Martin Brennan

Mazda enters an increasingly crowded crossover segment of the market with their compact SUV, the CX-3. It goes on sale this month and eventually could become one of the best sellers in their seven model line-up. Global sales are expected to run at 150,000, with 40,000 a year in Europe and run into several hundred a year here.

It is a fun-to-drive model aimed at the active lifestyle brigade with a choice of two petrol and five diesel variants. The 1.5-litre 105bhp diesel version in Executive SE trim is expected to be the best seller at €26,195. With 105g/km of C02 and a six-speed manual transmission unit, it attracts €190 road tax and has a good level of equipment as standard - LED headlights, automatic air conditioning, Smart City brake support, lane departure warning, rear-parking sensors, heated front seats, DAB radio and Bluetooth.

There is the option of integrated navigation for an extra €675, an extra €525 for metallic paint, a rear-view camera adds in the region of €500 and dealer PDI charges on top of the ex-works price adds up to that of a well kitted out Golf or Focus.

But there are more modestly priced options in the petrol line-up.

The entry two-litre petrol engine with 120bhp and C02 emissions of 137g/km (road tax of €280) costs just €20,695 in basic SE trim which includes manual air conditioning, burglar alarm, stop/start, six airbags, steering wheel audio switches and tyre pressure monitoring and steel wheels.

The Executive level of trim adds alloy wheels, cruise control, a multimedia commander system for infortainment and DAB radio for €21,898. The diesel prices start at €24,195 for the entry level, rising to €31,595 for the four-wheel-drive in top line GT specification with automatic transmission.

The new 1.5-litre diesel engine is one of the quietest on the market and has good low-end torque and returns a lively performance with claimed fuel consumption figures in mixed driving as low as 4L/100km (70mpg) but this is an engine that encourages spirited driving so these figures must be considered as achieved under ideal test conditions.

Mazda is sticking with their two-litre 120bhp petrol engine for this model. A 1.5-litre petrol engine is available in the Mazda3 but in fairness this bigger engine is also a frugal power plant and the two-litre block should not deter customers, although C02 emissions rise to 137g/km with a resultant €280 road tax.

In the beauty stakes, the CX-3 takes the prize over models such as the Peugeot 2008 and the bulbous Nissan Juke. The nearest competitor here would be the Renault Captur.

The new entrant to the crossover stakes oozes quality in terms of interior equipment and the road holding performance is top notch. On some tough, tight cornered mountain roads the handling was faultless. Good rear legroom and quality seats make for near luxury travel and the two-tier boot will provide ample space for most occasions.

Sunday Independent

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