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Compact crossovers are all the rage. Together with entry level hatchbacks, these two types of cars are the only categories growing in sales in South Africa. This can be attributed to a number of factors - things like a weakening economy and the need for increased safety, even if it is just an illusion.
The drop in the Rand means importing and manufacturing cost have skyrocketed like fireworks on New Year’s Eve. I’ve read a research report done by a large advertising agency for its FMCG client. The report’s conclusion spoke of how when humans wake-up we prepare for battle. These so-called ‘battles’ are as simple as looking your best, eating the right food for sustained energy, making your way to work through a barrage of obstacles – traffic, potholes, speed bumps, broken traffic lights and other aggressive road users. These battles carry over to the challenges of our work day - collecting your kids at school, dealing with clients and work colleagues and-and…
So where am I going with this? Compact crossovers are a solution to these two challenges. Why? Well, generally speaking, compact crossovers are well priced. Take for example the Mazda CX-3, starting price is R260 000 for a 2.0l badged the Active. Good value wouldn’t you say? Although the range topper, the Individual is R72 400 more expensive making it less of a bargain. Secondly, a crossover is raised. It is bulked-up. As a result, we like them. They feel more capable. Almost like a superhero hatch ready to take you on an adventure. Of course, this isn’t the truth but it feels safer sitting a little higher and in a chunkier car.
Aesthetically the Mazda CX-3 is gorgeous. Perhaps even prettier than Honda’s HR-V. Arguably the best-looking car in its class - well done, Mazda. Like the rest of its family, it carries the same KODO design language, essentially an understanding of movement and implementing it with their designs to create the tense, muscular yet flowing lines.
This carries through into the interior which mixes faux suede, leather, Kevlar, brushed aluminium with playful oxblood red coloured stitching and leather inserts on the door and the sides of the transmission tunnel. The interior is well designed and well appointed: (Dynamic model) Auto On/Off headlights, front fog lights, advanced keyless entry, leather-wrapped: gearshift knob, handbrake handle and steering wheel, auto air-conditioning, 7-inch full-colour touch screen display (MZD Connect) and automatic wipers, rear parking sensors. Additionally, (Individual models) satellite navigation, reverse camera, 18-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps (LED), daytime running lamps, headlamps (LED), taillamps (LED) and power sliding and tilt glass sunroof.
Good looks and a well-endowed cabin aside, how does this baby perform? The Mazda CX-3 features a 2.0l engine using what the brand refers to as SKYACTIV-G. The engine is good for 115kW of power and 204N.m of what I call the shove factor. 204N.m (the shove factor) is somewhat modest by the way. I’d estimate a 0 to 100 sprint to be done in around 9 seconds in Jozi. The engine is either mated to a 6-speed manual or automatic gearbox. Driven sedately, the CX-3 is passively docile and happy. Push her to spread her wings and the SKYACTIV engine heats up with its rev needle climbing upward and onward past the 5000 rpm mark while aggressively barking its disdain at being asked to do so. This isn’t a boy racer crossover then. Not! On the upside the engine is economical, I managed a figure of 8.7l per 100km for a weeks’ worth of brisk urban commutes.
The suspension is set to be firm. In my opinion too firm – especially for urban driving. In fact, going over speed bumps over 15km/h can be a neck altering experience. But being firm means that the CX-3 has been designed to feel sporty versus comfy. As a result, road holding is good, especially when combined with its fat tyres which do a prodigious job of keeping the crossover firmly planted to the road.
As part of the package all CX-3 models are sold with a 3-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty. To provide complete peace of mind motoring, a 3-year roadside assistance, a 3-year service plan and a 5-year corrosion warranty are also included.
· Beautiful looking car
· Sexy interior
· Well appointed
· Fuel efficient
· Entry-level and mid-level CX-3’s are well priced
· Firm ride
· Noisy revving engine
· Average acceleration
· Active manual R 260 000
· Active Auto R 275 800
· Dynamic manual R 283 500
· Dynamic Auto R 294 200
· Individual Auto R 332 400
· Dynamic manual
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