Our initial impressions of the Mazda CX-3 light crossover were positive when we tested the vehicle in the February 2016 issue. We loved the Mazda2-based model’s price, performance and overall packaging.
There were niggles, however, including an automatic transmission that showed a tendency to kick down too eagerly instead of letting the strong 2,0-litre engine mine the reserves of its 204 N.m torque peak to pull a higher gear. We will now be able to find out whether that mild irritation is one we can live after Mazda kindly offered us a CX-3 in Individual grade (R351 000) to use for 12 months.
Only available with the six-speed torque-converter unit, Individual spec brings a wealth of standard equipment, including satellite-navigation, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, head-up display and camera aided rear park assist.
Oddly, the CX-3 lacks certain features you’d expect to be standard on such a modern vehicle, including a central armrest, auto-locking doors and roof rails, but those are forgivable considering the aforementioned list.
I love the CX-3’s design inside and out. Mazda’s Kodo design language continues to impress, especially when covered in this vehicle’s Snowflake White Pearl Mica paintwork. The little crossover, which competes with another dual-purpose vehicle in our fleet, the Renault Captur, is one of the prettier vehicles in its segment.
The 2,0-litre SkyActiv engine as used in the MX-5 and Mazda3, which recently left the CAR offices after its 12-month tenure (see the April 2016 issue for its wrap-up feature), is one of the stronger powertrains in this class, despite eschewing turbocharged technology in favour of natural aspiration and sheer displacement. It’s also commendably quiet, which combines with the well-damped ride to render the CX-3 a pleasantly refined commuter.
Having received it with just 81 km on the clock, most of my driving up until now has been to simply run in the engine.
As a result, the average fuel consumption has been on the heavier side of 8,8 L/100 km, but I expect this figure to decrease over the course of the test in line with Mazda’s efficiency claims for its SkyActiv range of engines.
Throughout the 12-month stay, I’m hoping to discover whether the CX-3 can play the dual roles of daily commuter and weekend family vehicle equally well, and whether that transmission will endear itself to me, or continue to irk.
After 1 month Current mileage: 1 338 km Average fuel consumption: 8,86 L/100 km We like: attractive design; good engine; suspension tuning We don’t like: unresponsive transmission; no centre armrest