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Test Drive: Mazda CX-3 – Style, substance and soul

_MG_3048WE always felt that the compact SUV is the simplest, most headache-proof solution for car buyers who can’t decide if they should settle for a full-size SUV or an MPV. Simply, decision-making means serious business requiring multi-pronged strategy, especially for one who is the head of the family.

On one hand, purchasing a large family car means placing a stringent budget cap on your financial commitments, so making the best decision is a priority. On the other hand, it’s only typical for this same decision-maker to want a people mover that won’t be mistaken for a family van; especially if they are, for lack of a better word, young.

The year 2015 was billed in Malaysia as “the year of the SUV” and the entrance of new compact SUVs into the market last year occurred like an overdue volcano eruption. Such  vehicles unbiasedly cater to adults of all ages. One example would be the Mazda CX-3.

The CX-3 is positioned above the Mazda2 and below the CX-5, which makes it neither small nor big. Tech-savvy, it is, as it packs most of what you would expect from a next-generation SUV. Its price, though, is debatable.

The CX-3 commands attention to two aspects: the Kodo design philosophy and its 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G engine.

The running lines on the front section of the CX-3 nicely divert attention away from the car’s stubby nose, giving it a sharp, somewhat aggressive look. It combines this bold face with sharply-detailed features such as LED headlamps, fog lamps and rear combination lamps for a vehicle that looks like a predator without being too tacky.

Cabin

_MG_3119The dashboard has most of the important pieces of a modern compact SUV puzzle, complete with heads-up display.

The designers’ decision to fit in a floating MZD Connect  infotainment system though raises a few questions as navigating through the options can only be done with a full stretch of the arm. But, they provided a counter solution by  including a navigation knob found next to the handbrake for easier access.

The cabin of the CX-3 is smothered in leather suede with fine stitching on the upholstery.

The downside, however, is its restricted cabin space. Due to its low-slung roofline, it gets a little cramped in the back row. And this might just pose a little problem for female customers as we generally prefer cars which come with large hip room – and for a sizeable portion of the general public – a higher vantage point.

Performance, ride and handling

_MG_3154The 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G engine that is fitted into the CX-3 and paired with a six-speed automatic transmission is what breathes new life into the world of compact SUVs.

To really be able to feel and witness the swiftness of the CX-3, it’s best to take it for a long ride on a long, winding road. And whenever you’re up for it, knock the switch into Sport mode. Engine noise can be detected after some time but we assure you’ll be able to put up with it eventually.

Steering is light but communicative, which translates into a nimble, composed, spirited driving experience. All things considered, while the CX-3 was in our hands, it provided an acceptable fuel consumption figure of 9.5 litres/100km.

When tested on gravel roads, we found the CX-3 to be quite wobbly from slightly firm suspension, rocking from side to side. On smooth surfaces, though, the SUV is hardwired to the road and confidently takes on bends and corners.

As we mentioned earlier on, the CX-3 is packaged with most of what luxury car manufacturers have to offer in their line-ups. It comes with six airbags, Isofix anchor points, a HUD which provides real-time speed data, the i-STOP which shuts down the engine once the car brakes to a complete stop, thus saving fuel.

Verdict

_MG_3070Let’s put it this way. The Mazda CX-3 is considerably one of the best options around in the SUV segment. Minimalism has never looked and felt so right until the CX-3 landed on
our shores.

On the exterior front, it managed to make a nice exit out of the “traditional SUV” junction and onward into innovative design. And when you include that with great stability, sporty driving and fuel consumption figures that get the nod, others in the same segment as it is will be given a run for their money.

Specifications of the Mazda CX-3

Engine: 1,998cc Skyactiv-G in-line four cylinder petrol
Max power: 146hp @ 6,000rpm
Max torque: 192Nm @ 4,000rpm
Transmission: Skyactiv-Drive six-speed automatic
Safety features: Six airbags, ABS with EBD, BA, DSC, TCS, hill launch assist, emergency stop signal, Isofix
Price: RM135,143 OTR plus GST and insurance

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About Adela Megan Willy

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