The truth is, Mazda simply doesn't make a bad car. The entire passenger vehicle range - from the compact Mazda2 to the sporty MX-5 - is competent, self-assured and beautifully constructed. Occupying the middle parts of the line-up are the brand's three crossover SUV's. While it's set to expand in the next few years, Mazda currently offers the mid-sized CX-5, T-Roc rivalling CX-30 and the compact CX-3.
We've reacquainted ourselves with the CX-3, a stellar compact crossover with premium ambitions. Here are five things we love.
The CX-3 uses the same basic interior architecture as the compact Mazda2 - and that's no bad thing. While harder plastics do make up the majority of the interior, it is wonderfully solid and feels robust. There are some lovely touches, though. On posher models - such as the Hikari - you receive leather trim and a gorgeous piece of hide that stretches across the dashboard. Similarly, the switchgear all feels premium and there are lovely chrome flourishes that brighten up the dark interior.
Just one engine is available, a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre, four-cylinder. With all models using this single powertrain, the price difference is based upon varying trim levels. But even the R358 900 base-model Active (an auto is available at R379 400) is well-equipped. All models boast a full suite of safety features, including - ABS with EBD, hill-assist, traction control and stability control. Six airbags are standard, too. All models apart from the Active receive climate control (the Active still has air-conditioning) and nice-to-haves such as alloy wheels and climate control are all part of the package.
The Hikari model is bristling with tech and features, including keyless-entry and push-button start, lane-keep assist, LED headlamps, a head-up display and more.
Even though its been around for five years, the CX-3 still looks as fresh and modern as the day it was revealed. In fact, it's so stylish that we think it's one of the better looking cars in this hotly contested segment. Mazda's 'Kodo' styling principles works an absolute treat - and you can see the family resemblance across the range. Painted in the silk-like Soul Crystal red paintwork, it looks absolutely stunning. The 18-inch alloys found on the range-topper look great, too.
Performance and fuel economy
The naturally-aspirated motor produces a healthy 115 kW and 206 Nm of torque. It may not sound like much, but the CX-3 is a relatively compact car. The four-pot even sounds good, a throaty warble accompanying throttle inputs. 0-100 km/h varies (depending on spec and gearbox choice) but it sits between 9 and 9.5 seconds. The six-speed automatic 'box shifts quickly and smoothly - although the manual isn't bad either. Despite the lack of a turbocharger, Mazda still claims an impressive fuel consumption figure of 6.7 L/100 km (claimed).
Despite the relatively compact exterior dimensions, the CX-3 is rather spacious. Yes, legroom in the rear may be a touch cramped for taller drivers but, overall, it is impressive. Car seats will fit with ease and - thanks to the 264 - 1260 litres of boot/utility space, there's plenty of room for all the things a young family would need to fit. From a convenience point of view, the small body means parking the CX-3 is a doddle - Individual and Hikari models offer a reversing camera. All CX-3's are sold with a three-year/unlimited km warranty and service plan.