Mazda’s uprated Crossover CX-3 has loads of appeal

I haven’t changed my mind about Mazda’s compact SUV, the CX-3, which I took on a long-distance round trip from Milnerton to Johannesburg in October last year.

Brian Joss – It passed the test with flying colours (The Gremlin, November 23).

I enjoyed driving it; the ride was comfortable and it handled well.

Apart from a few hiccups, like driving over a tortoise on the R62 just outside Ladismith, the SUV which is a bigger version of the Mazda2, did a sterling job and we used 6.8 litres/100km which is excellent for a 2 litre petrol engine, driving mainly on the open road. With some bumper-to-bumper driving in Johannesburg. But for most of the time in Egoli it was safely parked at our hotel as I was wary of the other motorists, who drive with abandon.  Except unlike in Cape Town their cars do have indicators, which the drivers use, especially going round the ubiquitous traffic circles which are a feature of the daily grind in the big city. They’re everywhere in the suburbs.

The Mazda CX-3: the formula for success. Picture: Quickpic

I have been driving the updated version of the CX-3 (the Individual Plus Auto 2 litre) and the features that I didn’t like in the older model still hold true: lack of boot space at 264 litres. Although the rear seats can be split 60/40, which gives you 1 264 litres.

While I found the driving seat comfortable as I did on the road trip in October, the front passenger said it felt different and she kept shifting position as if she had ants in her pants.

So how has the CX-3 for 2017 changed? For starters, the cosmetic tweaks include an exterior side door garnishing on the Individual and Individual Plus derivatives and a choice of two new exterior colours: Eternal Blue Mica and Machine Gray Metallic, apart from the standout red that was specially developed for the Japanese car maker. “The next level of the premium colour palette, Machine Gray Metallic expresses the beauty of a machine’s strength and precision and achieves both high-contrast shadows and a high-density finish to give a realistic metallic feel”, Mazda said.

Mazda has also introduced a new derivative the 2 litre Individual Plus, the test car, which has all the bells and whistles to improve the driving experience and to help keep you safer on the road, and a six-speed automatic gearbox.  Some of the bells include Smart City Brake Support (SCBS), Adaptive LED Headlights (ALH), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Driver Attention Alert (DAA) and Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM). And they do work, they’re not gimmicks or nice-to-haves.  The Driver Attention Alert flashed several times with the warning, “time for a coffee break”.

The SkyActiv technology has also evolved with the introduction of SkyActiv-Vehicle Dynamics which includes G-Vectoring Control (GVC).

Basically GVC  controls engine torque based on your driving habits: steering and acceleration which helps to improve handling and ride quality.

The Mazda CX-3 is also equipped with its new generation internal combustion four-cylinder petrol engine which delivers a hefty 115 Kw and 204 N.m of torque, giving, says Mazda,  more performance from less fuel, using, for the technically minded among us,  multi-hole direct injection. The unusual piston design improves combustion while a 4-2-1 exhaust layout improves efficiency.

According to Mazda it uses 6.1 litres /100km in a combined cycle. Once again those figures are achieved in a perfect world under perfect driving conditions. My figures were nearer 7.5 litres/ 100km, but then I was driving with a light foot. The Mazda CX-3’s top speed is 192 km/h. It can go from 0 to 100km/h in 10 seconds. However, that’s academic. I didn’t put it to the test, otherwise, if “Big Brother” caught me, I would have been locked up without the option of a fine.

Unlike Mamelodi Sundowns new football acquisition from Ajax Cape Town, Rivaldo Coetzee, who last week was caught speeding at 198km/h on the N1, on his way to Goodwood, in his white BMW, at 11pm. Coetzee was going to the police station to have his papers and other documents certified  before the transfer deadline of 11.30pm. He was charged with speeding and warned to appear in court. Coetzee is planning to appeal to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

It’s ok for some.

But I digress. The Crossover SUV is a new venture for Mazda and they’re aiming at the 30-somethings.

It’s a highly contested segment of the market but the car-maker has the recipe for success to make major inroads against its competitors, which include among others, Nissan’s quirky Juke.

Although it does have some off-road capabilities I would hesitate to venture off the beaten track and in to the rough. The CX-3 also has the Japanese car giant’s trademark KODO, Soul of Motion design traits, featuring sculpted lines; a prominent grille, the dual exhaust pipes, all combining to form the unmistakeable Mazda design.

Inside, the updated CX-3 is the same as the older version. It is offered with a choice of infotainment systems. The top spec model has a touchscreen on top of the dashboard, and it’s easy to use.  With all the device connectivity you could want or need. It also has keyless entry and the stop-and-go feature that’s fast becoming the norm. The BOSE sound system is also excellent.

I haven’t changed my mind about the CX-3 since I drove it to Johannesburg and back. The quality is as good as it ever was and it is a comfortable ride. 

Since Mazda’s split from Ford it has come in to its own.  I have always thought Mazda was under-rated in South Africa but that’s changing, fast, and the evidence is in the many models you see on the road.

The little Crossover SUV has loads of appeal; it has all the nice-to-haves; it handles well, sucks up all the bumps and humps on the road; you can use it for your daily commute or a long distance trip and for a 2-litre engine it is quite miserly with fuel. If you’re in the market for new wheels, the

CX-3 is worth a second and even third look.

The Mazda CX-3 Individual Plus carries a price tag of R365 400 (check with your dealer). And you’re still getting value for money. Included are a 3-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty, 3-year roadside assistance, a 3-year service plan and a 5-year corrosion warranty.

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