It's amazing what an unrestrained marketing department can come up with. According to Mazda's gifted, the CX-3 is targeted at ‘misfit adults. People that don't fit in. Think hipsters and people with tattoos. Independent thinkers...’ and it doesn't stop there. ‘It resembles a cheetah! Do you see it?’ Frankly no, handsome as it is – and no length of PowerPoint presentation was going to change my mind. When faced with Kodo, Mazda's current design language, they're quick to let their collective imagination run wild. They're also quite quick to point out that their new CX-3 compact SUV is patently not a shrunken CX-5, nor is it a Mazda2 that’s 'crossed-over'. Well of course it isn't silly, because as we've already covered, it is in fact a cheetah.
Ironically if you're trying to fathom the dimensions of the CX-3 then it is indeed somewhat of a shrunken CX-5 or 2-on-stilts, but despite being smaller it gains the same naturally aspirated Skyactiv 2.0 petrol engine as the larger car, practically identical to the mill that does duty in the much dearer MX-5. That means it has access to 115kW and 204Nm, and that it comes in two flavours, a six-speed manual or automatic. I'd like to go off at a bit of a tangent at this point and suggest that the entry-level car, a front-drive Active manual at R254900, represents an excellent smiles-to-rand ratio – and I don't just mean in the compact SUV segment, I mean everything. Using my new power-to-price formula (kW divided by Rand) that gives this car a score of 4.51kW/R. Its closest rival, the Honda HR-V only manages a 2.9kW/R, and hell even a Toyota 86 only manages 4.19kW/R. The new Audi RS3? Forget it at a meagre 3.72. Even the Maserati Ghibli S (page 48) lags at 1.86kW/R. Let me know if it gets too complicated. I however sampled the automatic transmission and can report it was more than up to the task of swapping cogs in the 200km round trip of the Cape’s asphalt – plenty traffic, ditto highway and winding lane, and thanks to a wrong turn even a bit of gravel travel.
The results remained the same no matter the driving conditions – the Mazda CX-3 is an excellent urban runabout with aspirations off the beaten trail. Ha! Take that marketing department. In all seriousness, it's one of the most engaging steers in the segment, boasts a powerplant that loves to be revved and enjoys a verve that cannot be doused even with the self-shifting ’box. I like it a hell of a lot. Watch out everybody.
Mazda CX-3 2.0 Individual Auto
Engine 1998cc 4cyl, 115kW @ 6000rpm, 204Nm @ 2800rpm
Transmission Six-speed auto, front-wheel drive
Performance 8.7 sec 0-100kph, 192kph, 6.1L/100km, 146g/km CO2
On sale Now
By - CALVIN FISHER