MAZDA might have been a latecomer to the SUV/crossover party but the car maker has certainly made up for lost time.
While the CX-7, its first foray into the segment, might have somewhat missed the boat - the CX-5 has met with widespread critical acclaim and the smaller CX-3 looks set to follow in its footsteps.
The CX-3 is a compact crossover, though it bears the familiar SUV styling hallmarks favoured by the cars it is up against such as the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008.
It boasts bold and sharp exterior styling which should see it win plenty of fans and even give it kudos as a competitor against more premium compact crossovers like the Audi Q3. Just as the Masda6 has an element of Jaguar design DNA about it the same could be said for the CX-3.
My test car won admiring glances a plenty and one person spent five minutes or more checking it out in the local retail park car park.
The interior is smart and swish too. It might continue Mazda's tradition of being purposeful rather than flash but the instrumentation and switchgear looks classy and is well designed.
The cabin is pleasant and certainly seems as roomy as most small to medium-sized hatchbacks and a 350-litre boot should be sufficient to cope with the needs. With the rear seats folded you get 1,260 litres of load space.
While the CX-3 might not be an SUV, unlike most of its competitors there is the option of four-wheel drive. It might only be available on the range-topping Sport Nav model but for anyone who wants added reassurance for winter motoring, rather than off-road capability, it will certainly deliver.
There's a choice of two engines - a 2.0-litre petrol or a 1.5-litre diesel. The standard petrol model delivers 118bhp, though there's also a more powerful 148bhp version which is four-wheel drive only.
The 104bhp diesel delivers a whopping 70.6mpg on the combined cycle and emits just 105g/km of CO2.
However the petrol version still offers reasonable running costs. Its official combined economy figure is 48mpg and in truth you should be able to get pretty close to that thanks to the efficient and lightweight SKYACTIV engine.
I found it to be a capable unit, smooth and potent in equal measure.
The CX-3 offers a nice drive it has to be said. You get that nicely elevated SUV-style driving position but given it's a vehicle with fairly compact dimensions it holds the road well and has a noticeable and pleasing sporty character.
This was a two-wheel drive derivative but I'd imagine a four-wheel drive version with its added grip is even better still as a driver's car.
There's a choice of SE, SE-L and Sport Nav trim levels. All come well-equipped with air-conditioning, alloy wheels, Bluetooth, and a touchscreen infotainment system that includes a DAB radio.
Step up from and SE to an SE-L and you'll get climate control, heated front seats, lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking.
The Sport Nav adds sat-nav, LED headlamps, part leather trim, a head-up display, keyless entry and an impressive Bose audio system.