First drive: Mazda's SA-bound CX-3
By: Denis Droppa
Hiroshima - The new Mazda CX-3 will be the latest addition to SA’s burgeoning compact crossover segment, taking on competitors like the Opel Mokka, Honda HR-V and Nissan Juke.
The car is headed for South Africa in November as part of a busy model onslaught by the Japanese company since it split from Ford late in 2014 and became a standalone brand. In that time it’s introduced the new Mazda3, Mazda6, and Mazda2 ranges along with an expanded CX-5 line up.
The CX-3 is built at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant in several engine derivatives and in two- and all-wheel drive, but the South African line-up will consist only of 2-litre front-wheel drive models. They will be available in three spec levels, from the basic Active to the higher Dynamic and Individual versions, with a choice of manual or automatic six-speed transmissions.
Based on the same platform as the recently-launched Mazda2 hatch, the CX-3 has chic styling and a slightly raised ride height but isn’t being billed as any kind of offroader.
Interior space in this compact crossover is relatively decent, with four adults able to sit without getting unecessarily intimate. It’s a reasonably short car at 4 275mm so while the rear seats can be flipped down, there isn’t space to load particularly bulky objects.
ON THE ROAD
I drove the CX-3 in Japan last week in a lower-powered 88kW version than the 115kW derivative destined for South Africa. It felt smooth and had decent commuting pace at sea level, but did feel like it might struggle at high altitude so the extra punch to be offered in the South African model comes as good news. There’s no plan for a turbo engine, nor for that matter a rotary – a technology with which Mazda has a long history.
The ride and handling are car-like and the slightly raised ground clearance doesn’t negatively affect the CX-3’s cornering ability. In fact the suspension felt somewhat on the firm side and I would have expected slightly better bump-absorption.
The interior is stylish with flashes of red trim to break up the black monotony, and like other modern Mazdas it’s well equipped, with a full suite of safety features along with a comprehensive infotainment system.
Pricing of the CX-3 is estimated to start around R260 000.
As part of an aggressive strategy to entice buyers back to the brand, Mazda offers an unlimited-distance warranty on its vehicles. This three-year guarantee comes with a three-year service plan and roadside assistance.Star Motoring