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Mazda CX3, bolstered with more kit, more compelling than ever

By Miles Downard

What’s this?

Better late than never, or so the saying goes. It’s something Mazda certainly hoped was true in the case of its CX3 compact crossover launched late in 2015. You see Nissan, Ford and Renault, to name but a few, have been at this game for quite a while, with roaring success. Mazda, wanting a slice of that pie, took its superb little Mazda 2 as a base, put it on some stilts, kept it looking just as good, if not better, and out popped the CX3. Having established itself Mazda has now decided to up the ante with the addition of a load of fancy equipment that sets it apart from the competition.

On the outside

As mentioned it’s a stunner. Those bits of black trim around the arches and bumpers let you know that it’s not just another hatch. The face is angular, as is the rest of the body, yet somehow tricks the eye to give a soft impression. Marvellous bit of design really. I don’t think there’s an angle from which I disapprove.

On the inside

This area of new Mazda’s – and old ones too if I’m honest – divides opinion. Some say that it’s effortlessly elegant and accordingly the ergonomics are second to none. I find it perhaps a little bland, even if I do agree that everything is at hand and simple to use (even Mazda’s version of BMW’s i-Drive infotainment control system).

On the space side of things I’d describe the CX-3’s offering as adequate. For perspective the boot’s 100 litres up on the Mazda 2. That low slung roofline means rear visibility is a bit of an issue especially if someone is sitting in the middle rear seat, so the parking sensors from the 2nd bottom model up are very welcome additions.

Read also: Ford EcoSport: looking to continue its dominance of the compact crossovers

Behind the wheel

There’s a 2.0 litre petrol engine on offer in the CX-3, although you might find at a later stage Mazda offers the smaller diesel found in the 2 as well. It offers 115kW and 204 torques together with a very pleasant automatic gearbox.

Overall it feels like a slightly heavier, higher Mazda 2, unsurprisingly I guess. So it’s slightly less agile but most of the dynamics have survived. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect is that the ride can be a bit harsh. Given the higher stance and decent handling I suppose the compromise had to be comfort, however I think most consumers would have preferred it the other way round.

Pricing

This Individual Plus model hits the price lists at R404,200. It’s very well kitted, with things like a heads-up display, navigation, reverse camera, blind spot indicators, lane departure warning, emergency brake assist, adaptive headlights etc. Ford’s most expensive Ecosport is just under the R350,000 mark just no where near as tech savvy. Renault’s Captur finds itself just over R330,000, is much better equipped but still not on par with the CX-3, and has a less powerful engine. The Nissan Juke can get as expensive as the Mazda and is similarly equipped.

Verdict

I think Mazda has done a lot right with the CX-3. It looks great, drives well and offers more tech features than the competition. Does it justify the price tag? Well honestly if it were my money I’d likely end up in the Renault. But it’s a very tight call even with the price differential.

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