Mazda CX-3 2.0 Sport

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Mazda CX-3, white, front
Mazda CX-3, white, interior
Mazda CX-3, white, rear, action
Mazda CX-3, white, side
Mazda CX-3, white, instruments
Mazda CX-3, white, boot

THE Mazda CX-3 is a sharp-dressed dude looking to take on a growing pack of compact SUVs spawned by the increasing popularity of this fast-growing fashion-conscious sector of the market.

The Japanese group sends its pumped up hatchback into battle armed with an eye-catching exterior featuring a shield-shaped grille and headlamps that wrap around the front wings.

Combined with sculpted front and rear bumpers and a raised ride hieght there's a sporty feel to this Mazda while cladding around the wheel arches and door sills give it a rugged look.

Step into the cabin and you'll immediately appreciate the comfortable figure-hugging seats and a neat dashboard layout that is easy to navigate.

Nice touches include eyeball air vents, soft touch plastics and leatherette seat trim with red piping, while the fit and finish give a quality feel to proceedings.

The driving position is quite low for a vehicle of this ilk but visibility is good and everything is adjustable allowing a decent position behind the steering wheel to be attained with the minimum of fuss.

Plenty of kit is also included with all versions getting cruise control, a DAB radio with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a tailgate spoiler, alloy wheels and body coloured bumpers.

The SE-L model adds automatic wipers, climate control, privacy glass for the rear windows and LED front foglamps while the Sport Nav model I drove predictably gets a navigation system that includes free European updates for three years, larger alloy wheels, a reversing camera, a BOSE stereo with seven speakers, a splash of extra chrome and keyless entry.

I had one small quibble with the self-locking mechanism. Get out of the car and go to open the passenger door to get a bag out of the footwell and you will find the doors have already locked.

What I do particularly like is the smart head up display which leaves you feeling like a jet fighter pilot and is a great addition for the driver.

The CX-3 may be only a tad larger than a supermini but it copes easily with the demands placed on it by a family of four.

The boot - boasting 350-litres of space rising to 1,260-litres with the rear seats lowered - copes admirably with the weekly supermarket shopping.

The 2.0-litre, 120ps petrol engine under the bonnet of the front-wheel drive car I tested is a perky individual sprinting from 0-62mph in nine seconds on its way to a top speed of 119mph. It is aided and abetted by a slick six-speed manual transmission with the optimum time for gear changes advised by a digital display on the dashboard.

Fuel consumption and emissions are kept in check by Mazda's clever SKYACTIV technology which is underpinned by a commitment to weight reduction.

There is also a 150ps version reserved for the four-wheel drive Sport Nav automatic model and a 1.5-litre diesel which also offers decent performance and low running costs.

The ride is a touch firm - but not to the point where fillings are in danger - and except for deeper potholes most humps and hollows are competently dealt with.

Mazda likes its cars to engage the driver and the CX-3 is no exception with the two-wheel drive version feeling pretty nimble with ballerina-like agility while the steering is well-weighted giving a decent feel for what is happening on the ground. There are good levels of grip inspiring confidence when you're in a tight corner.

The CX-3 is a refined individual boasting effective sound-proofing largely eliminating wind and road noise from the interior.

It is competitively priced with the entry-level model kicking in at £17,595 rising to £24,695 for the flagship all-wheel drive version.

FAST FACTS

Mazda CX-3 2.0 Sport Nav

Price:£20,495

Mechanical:120ps, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed:119mph

0-62mph:9 seconds

Combined MPG:47.9

Insurance Group:17

C02 emissions:137g/km

Bik rating:22%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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