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Mazda CX-3 Touring petrol 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
8
Derek Ogden road tests and reviews the Mazda CX-3 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

If the CX-3 were a child it would likely be called precocious, so full of itself is the new Mazda compact crossover. However, I mean this in the nicest possible way.

The first-ever CX-3 has plenty to say in all its offerings, from the most extensive range in its segment. MZD Connect, including Mazda's new mulitmedia system, is on Maxx, sTouring and Akari - three of its four grades. Entry-level Neo is the odd man out.

Two engines – a 1.5-litre diesel and a 2.0-litre petrol – are on offer. Available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive the CX-3 comes with a six-speed automatic, or six-speed manual.

Fuel economy, on all grades, is helped by i-stop, Mazda's stop / start engine technology, while petrol-powered models can be perked up with Drive Selection, which allows a switch to sport mode. 

The chief designer says his mission was: "[To produce] a design that appeals to progressive customers who aspire to a trend-setting lifestyle at the cutting-edge of the post-modern age." 

From what I've seen of the CX-3 sTouring Safety 2.0-litre petrol all-wheel-drive automatic test vehicle, Mazda has come up trumps. It's a sweet confection topped off with the tempting cherry of a $30,020, plus on-road costs, price tag. 

Design

It shares a platform with the new Mazda2, incorporating the company's ‘Kodo – Soul of Motion' styling. This has been used to get proportions right to create the height needed for a crossover vehicle.

This it has done with large 18-inch wheels, giving it a little more ground clearance; the front fenders have been pushed backwards producing the profile of an extended body.

Blacked-out D-pillars add to the sleek appearance and a solid rear end adds a sense of strength and power. The new Soul Red exterior colour added a crowning touch of class to the test car. 

Attention to detail is evident from the positioning of instruments, such as the dash-mounted 7-inch display screen, and controls, including the HMI commander handily placed for the driver, to the use of soft piping on the seat facings.

A high belt-line and contoured door trim cocoon the front seat occupants in a comforting manner fit for even the most testing road conditions, or ragged driving style.

Features

Head-up display sees useful information to the driver projected onto a clear display panel vertically mounted on the meter hood. Vehicle speed, navigation directions and other important driving information, such as that from the advanced safety systems, are also displayed.

Further information relating to how the vehicle is performing is divided between a large dial flanked by a pair of display wings. An analog tachometer in the centre incorporates a digital speedometer in the bottom right corner. The right wing shows the external temperature and fuel status, plus safety indicators.

Information on the 7-inch centrally mounted display screen is accessed via a command control knob handily placed on the centre console. 

Voice commands can be used to control audio functions and tap into Bluetooth hands-free phone operation, reception of short text messages, and internet radio such as Aha with access to more than 100,000 broadcasts from around the world. Plus Stitcher on-demand, which provides more than 15,000 talk shows, music programs and podcasts; and Pandora, a radio service for subscribers to create up to 100 personalised stations and listen to continuous music, or search for similar songs for automatic playback.

Engines / Transmissions

Our test Mazda CX-3 was fitted with a 2.0-litre petrol engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

With maximum power of 109kW at 6000rpm and top torque of 192Nm at 2800 revs, fuel consumption is said to be 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres for the automatic, all-wheel drive.

Efforts were made to reduce weight by using lighter pistons, connecting rods and crankshaft while lower mechanical resistance was achieved with reduced valve spring load and the use of a high-efficiency water pump. 

Safety

In addition to standard front airbags, Mazda CX-3 is available with curtain airbags protecting front and rear seat occupants in a side impact, as well as side airbags that help protect the chests of front-seat occupants.

As well as a full suite of active safety features, such as anti-skid braking, traction control, dynamic stability control and emergency brake assist, the test vehicle was fitted with the optional $1030 Mazda Safety Pack, consisting of advanced blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and smart city brake support.

Driving

A 2.0-litre engine is quite large – some would say extravagant – for a compact car these days, so with the revs up and power approaching 110kW, the CX-3 sTouring skips along nicely, the auto transmission slipping through the ratios as required.

To make the little Mazda more reactive to driver input, Drive Selection allows them to engage Sport mode by pressing a switch on the transmission's shift gate. The transmission is reset to start out in low gear and torque output is upped when the accelerator pedal is pressed to deliver powerful acceleration with minimum pedal action. Fuel economy is the victim.

Test car petrol consumption was recorded at 9.1L/100km in town. In snappy Sport mode this ran out to between 10.0 and 11.0L/100km. Cruising the highway it sipped 5.5L/100km with the engine at a steadfast 2000rpm.

The new-generation all-wheel drive detects slippery conditions, and when setting off ends power to the rear wheels the instant the driver presses the accelerator pedal. At the same time, by achieving advance slip detection and optimum front-rear torque distribution, the system reduces energy loss due to the tyres slipping or an excess of drive power being sent to the rear wheels. It's up for almost anything that can be thrown up under foot.

Storage spots are plentiful with drink holders, seat-back pockets and a convenient space in front of the gear shift ideal for a smartphone and includes a 12V power socket for charging.

Verdict

The Mazda CX-3 might just be in the right place at the right time. Amazingly, it sold 814 units during its first nine days on sale. Nothing seems to have slowed in the meantime.

Pricing Guides

$19,990
Based on 327 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$14,490
Highest Price
$27,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Akari (AWD) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $17,999 – 26,999 2015 Mazda CX-3 2015 Akari (AWD) Pricing and Specs
Akari (FWD) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $19,975 – 27,990 2015 Mazda CX-3 2015 Akari (FWD) Pricing and Specs
Maxx (AWD) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $16,860 – 19,000 2015 Mazda CX-3 2015 Maxx (AWD) Pricing and Specs
Maxx (FWD) 1.5L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $15,777 – 21,999 2015 Mazda CX-3 2015 Maxx (FWD) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Pricing Guide

$14,490

Lowest price, based on 279 car listings in the last 6 months

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