JAPANESE motor maker Mazda who established their UK reputation as a producer of quality and innovative cars especially those powered by rotary engines has now entered the rather crowded compact crossover market with a premium contender offering two and four wheel drive that should have wide appeal writes Bryan Longworth.
The Mazda CX-3 is one of the higher priced cars in this sector which include the Nissan Juke but it has class quality and style for those who are prepared to pay for such features and the four wheel drive CX-3 is a great car to have on your drive or in your garage especially at this time of year for it will keep you on the move in wintry weather when others are struggling.
It is related to the Mazda 2 and has a very stylish body that looks particularly imposing at the front where the large grille provides it with plenty of street appeal and there is an all round quality feel about the CX-3 that I have always associated with Mazda which provided me with my first test car many moons ago.
I have been testing one of the four wheel drive models and top of the range CX-3 1.5 105ps AWD Sport Nav Auto costing £24,695 which had the SKYACTIV 1.5-litre 104bhp powertrain driving all four wheels through a six speed automatic gearbox that produced a top speed of 107mph a zero to 62mph time of 11.9 seconds a combined fuel consumption of 54.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 136g/km.
My first impressions of the Mazda were very good for it had extremely well weighted steering and precise handling that made driving so enjoyable especially on the bendy bits on my favourite Peak District roads and the instruments and controls were so user friendly.
I also liked the smooth quiet and lively diesel engine that linked well with the automatic transmission to provide an excellent powertrain for the car which according to the on board trip computer consumed around 10mpg of fuel less than the combined figure which is about average for this driving situation with auto transmission.
With the test car being top of the range it was loaded with standard equipment including LED headlights and daytime running lights, 18-inch gunmetal alloy wheels plus a head-up digital speed display between the steering wheel and windscreen so that the speed of the vehicle is constantly in front of the driver’s field of vision.
There are comfortable seats front and rear (optional leather on this car) and there was a nice balance of manual controls especially for climate control heated front seats and radio and those on the touchscreen that included satellite navigation.
The flexible cargo boot floor can be lifted to provide a flat load space when the split rear seats are folded and the boot will accommodate 350-litres of luggage and shopping while there is a puncture repair kit underneath because there is no spare wheel.
As mentioned earlier the controls are very user friendly but an exception is the engine stop start button that is hidden behind the winker/lights stalk and difficult to locate which is surprising because there are much better and more obvious sites for it to the right of the steering wheel and on the centre console near the gearshift control.
Whether or not you want four wheel drive is very much a matter of choice and cost but if cost is not a factor I would go for it because like an insurance policy it is there if you need it in bad weather conditions and you have this facility in a car without having to buy an off-road type 4x4 which many people do not like or want.
The CX-3 may be more expensive than some of the competition but it offers a premium product providing enjoyable motoring in this market sector and Mazda amid rumours that a rotary engine may be re-introduced hopes it will also boost their UK fleet sales as well as appealing to private buyers.
Model: Mazda CX-3 1.5 105ps Sport Nav Auto.
Engine: 1.5-litre four cylinder diesel:
Output: 104bhp at 4000rpm.
Drivetrain: Four wheel drive.
Transmission: Six speed automatic.
Top speed: 107mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 11.9 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 54.3mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 136g/km.