Mazda CX-3 SE-L Nav 2.0 road test report review

Mazda CX-3 SE-L Nav 2.0 road test report review
Mazda CX-3 SE-L Nav 2.0 road test report review – New little sister to the popular CX-5.

Mazda CX-3 SE-L Nav 2.0 road test report review – KEITH WARD looks at their latest new model and reports on Mazda’s ongoing success.

WITH sales here currently rising at treble the industry average, three new models launched by the end of this year, upgrades for others and an £11m revamp under way of their 137 dealerships, Mazda’s light is shining brightly.

“It’s a very exciting time for us”, said UK boss Jeremy Thomson at press previews of the all-new CX-3, a departure for the Japanese brand in the form of a five-door, compact SUV crossover tasked to take on in a fast-growing sector such as the Nissan Juke, Vauxhall Mokka, Suzuki Vitara and Peugeot 2008.

It’s based on the same new lightweight platform as the Mazda 2 hatchback introduced earlier this year, but sits 50mm or a couple of inches higher for the more commanding view sought by many.

However, instead of the chunky look typical of the SUV breed the CX-3 manages to achieve almost a coupe profile thanks to its more sloping windscreen and subtle body crease-lines sweeping back along its sides. It looks good.

The floor of the deep boot, loaded over a high rear sill, can be slotted higher to form a reasonably flat through-deck, over four feet long by our tape, when the divided rear seats are folded. With all seats up in the comfortably furnished cabin, there is enough leg room for one six-footer to sit behind another, even if the head of the rearmost is tending to brush the roof lining.

An 18-strong range priced from £17,595 to £24,695 offers nine body colours, five levels of trim and a choice of two engines – a 2.0-litre petrol tuned to 120 or 150 PS and a 105 PS 1.5-litre diesel. Depending upon model, you can opt for drive to the front or all four wheels through six-speed transmissions, either manual or automatic. Cheapest AWD is the 150PS petrol in top Sport Nav trim at £22,495.

All CX-3‘s from SE trim upwards feature a seven-inch, multi-function colour touchscreen, manual air-con, cruise control and speed limiter, heated electric mirrors, power windows, tyre pressure monitoring, DAB radio, Bluetooth and a two-way adjustable, multi-function steering wheel.

SE-L gets you heated front seats, climate control, rear parking sensors, smart city brake support and automatic wipers and headlights.

Sport Nav grade from £20,495 brings sat-nav, upgraded Bose sound system, smart keyless entry and, claiming a first in this sector, head-up display in the windscreen of your speed and turn-by-turn navigation instructions.

Petrol power is expected to account for around 60 per cent of UK sales. Interestingly Mazda, no slouches in engineering, have in the universal pursuit of economy with low emissions opted with their so-called SKYACTIVE power trains to stay with normally aspirated 2.0-litre, four-cylinder units rather than the smaller, turbocharged three or two-pot engines favoured elsewhere.

In CX-3 petrol versions neither lab-tested combined mpg figures (44.1 to 48.7) nor CO2 ratings (136 to 150 g/km) are the greatest, but they do drive more smoothly and quieter than average in the samples tried on previews. The 120PS with 2WD was recording over 40 mpg on our extensive and inspiring route of mainly country roads taking in North Yorkshire, County Durham, Northumberland, Cumbria and into the Scottish Borders.

It was preferred in terms of overall comfort and driving pleasure to the slower and £1,400 dearer 105PS diesel, whose extra 45 kg weight we blamed for making the suspension thump on dips in switchback North Pennine roads. But this engine was recording a superior 50-plus mpg (against an official combined 70.6) and its 105 g/km CO2 tag sneaks it into the cheaper tax band B (nil then £20 annual VED).

The CX-3 is expected to further boost Mazda’s fleet sales, already up 40 per cent in the past year and now accounting for 30 per cent of all their cars sold. Recent upgrades of the Mazda 6 and MX-5 and last year’s new Mazda 3 are also credited.

Next up from energised Mazda: A replacement in late summer for the iconic MX-5 sports car. Should be a treat.

Rating: ★★★★★
If you like this, but want something bigger, read our review on the Mazda CX-5.

Model New Mazda CX-3 SE-L Nav 2.0
Type Compact SUV; 5-door; 5-seat
Engine Petrol; 1,998 cc; 4-cyl; 6-speed manual; front 2WD
Power 120 PS @ 6,000 rpm; max torque 204 Nm @ 2,800 rpm
Pace 119 mph; 0-62 in 9.0 sec
MPG On test 40.9; official combined 47.9
CO2 137 g/km; band E; VED £130; BIK 22%
Insurance Group 16E
Tyres 215/60; R16
PRICE £19,595; as tested with options £20,135
On sale Now