Mazda has given its diminutive CX-3 crossover its first update since landing in Australian showrooms in March 2015, bringing upgrades to safety and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, while introducing Mazda's G-Vectoring torque control.
This is despite some lopsided sales splits, with only 16 per cent of buyers choosing all-wheel drive, 11 per cent opting for a manual gearbox and a paltry three per cent choosing a diesel engine.
Mazda Australia managing director Vinesh Bhindi explained at the model's launch that choice was an important factor in the CX-3's success.
The CX-3 has been a runaway sales success since launching in 2015, selling 18,334 units in 2016 – the most in the small SUV segment.
"It is a new segment, so it's important we do make sure customers... have got options, and they are coming into our showrooms thinking 'well I want this' and to say 'no you can't have that' is a difficult conversation and a let down to a certain extent," he said.
"So we believe it's the right thing to do. Now, it will settle down at a level and we will all know what customers would like, willing to buy and requesting, but we think it's important to offer it (variety)."
The range will continue to kick off with the petrol-only front-drive Neo six-speed manual from $20,490 before on-roads, representing a $500 increase over the outgoing model. Opting for the six-speed auto adds $2000.
Features on the Neo include 16-inch steel wheels, halogen headlights, black/grey cloth seat trim, air-conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth capability, five airbags, rear parking sensors, front and rear smart city brake support, keyless start and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.
Mazda's G-Vectoring Control system has been rolled out across the range, as have front lower arm suspension bushing updates, which help improve steering response and chassis control.
NVH levels have also improved thanks to reductions in tyre noise and wind noise while driving and high speeds.
Next in the line-up is the Maxx, which is offered in four variants consisting of three petrol models – the front-drive manual from $22,890, front-drive auto from $24,890 and all-wheel-drive auto from $26,890 – and a single front-drive diesel auto from $27,290.
The Maxx adds 16-inch alloys, 7.0-inch touchscreen display, sat-nav, leather-wrapped gear shift knob, handbrake and steering wheel, six-speaker audio with digital radio, internet radio integration, reversing camera, and safety technologies including blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
After the Maxx comes the sTouring variant, available in the same configurations as the Maxx, and starting from $26,990 for the front-drive manual.
The sTouring nets buyers 18-inch alloys, heating power mirrors, LED headlights, foglights, tail-lights and daytime running lights, rain-sensing wipers, higher-end cloth seat trim, head-up display, climate-control air-conditioning, driver attention alert and traffic sign recognition.
In the first four months of this year it has continued its reign as the most popular small SUV.
Topping the range is the Akari variant starting from $31,490 for the front-drive manual, and topping out the range at $37,890 for the all-wheel-drive auto diesel.
Features on the Akari include power sliding and tilt glass sunroof, 10-way adjustable power front seats with heating function, seat trim in black or white leather and black suede, adaptive LED headlights, lane departure warning and front parking sensors.
Powertrains for the new range have remained unchanged, and comprise of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder aspirated petrol engine that makes 109kW at 6000rpm and 192Nm at 2800rpm, and a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit that produces 77kW at 4000rpm and 270Nm from 1600-2500rpm.
Both automatic and manual transmissions are six speed, while fuel consumption ranges from 6.1 and 6.7 litres per 100km for the petrol engine depending on spec and 4.8-5.1L/100km for the oil-burner.
The CX-3 has been a runaway sales success since launching in 2015, selling 18,334 units in 2016 – the most in the small SUV segment ahead of the Mitsubishi ASX (18,126), Honda HR-V (12,403) and Nissan Qashqai (12,259).
In the first four months of this year it has continued its reign as the most popular small SUV with 5750 sales, ahead of the ASX (5050), Qashqai (3935) and HR-V (3732).
2017 Mazda CX-3 list pricing
Mazda CX-3 Neo FWD 2.0L petrol – manual – $20,490
Mazda CX-3 Neo FWD 2.0L petrol – automatic – $22,490
Mazda CX-3 Maxx FWD 2.0L petrol – manual – $22,890
Mazda CX-3 Maxx FWD 2.0L petrol – automatic – $24,890
Mazda CX-3 Maxx AWD 2.0L petrol – automatic – $26,890
Mazda CX-3 Maxx FWD 1.5L diesel – automatic – $27,290
Mazda CX-3 sTouring FWD 2.0L petrol – manual – $26,990
Mazda CX-3 sTouring FWD 2.0L petrol – automatic – $28,990
Mazda CX-3 sTouring AWD 2.0L petrol – automatic – $30,990
Mazda CX-3 sTouring AWD 1.5L diesel – automatic – $33,390
Mazda CX-3 Akari FWD 2.0L petrol – manual – $31,490
Mazda CX-3 Akari FWD 2.0L petrol – automatic – $33,490
Mazda CX-3 Akari AWD 2.0L petrol – automatic – $35,490
Mazda CX-3 Akari AWD 1.5L diesel – automatic – $37,890