THE Mazda CX-5 created quite a stir in the booming crossover market when it hit the roads in 2012.
Sharp driving dynamics, efficient engines and smart styling made it an instant rival to the popular Nissan Qashqai and it was quickly acclaimed by owners and media alike - picking up a sackful of industry awards.
With such startling success in their first venture into the class it was little surprise that Mazda were eager to get another crossover into the showrooms and the CX-3 duly arrived last year, going head-to-head with the Qashqai's smaller brother, the Juke, as well as the likes of Renault's Captur and Peugeot's 2008.
Taking its style cues from the CX-5 but based on the Mazda2 platform, the CX-3 comes with a choice of petrol or diesel power, five trim levels, two or four-wheel drive and manual and automatic transmissions.
The good news is that it offers the same eye-catching looks and enjoyable and engaging drive as the Japanese car maker's larger crossover - but being based on a supermini has inevitably meant some compromises on the excellent family space and practicality that CX-5 buyers are afforded.
While it rides higher than the Mazda2 and has the chunky cladding and SUV-style muscular trimmings that characterise a crossover, the CX-3 is not as tall as some of its rivals and feels much more like a hatchback to drive, with nimble handling, excellent body control and assured grip.
The 1.5-litre diesel power pack in my two-wheel drive test car was pleasingly quiet and refined and offered plenty of pep, both in town and on the open road.
Paired with a snappy six-speed manual gearbox and well-weighted, responsive steering it makes for a more entertaining drive than the figures - 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds and a top speed of 110mph - might initially suggest.
Mazda's SKYACTIV technology, including automatic start/stop system, features on all powertrains in the range, and in the case of this diesel boasts impressive official average fuel economy figures of more than 70mpg.
Savings at the pumps, and predicted high resale values, will help to offset the fact that the CX-3's purchase prices are higher than some competitors.
The extra cost can also partly be justified by the fact that the CX-3 comes very well equipped and with an interior which Mazda has clearly worked hard to endow with a classy look and feel.
Piano black highlights and contrasting soft touch panels abound while the circular air vents are reminiscent of those found in Audis.
And while all models get a seven-inch touchscreen interface there is also a BMW-esque rotary dial in the centre console which allows for easier control of the functions when on the move.
All versions also get alloy wheels, cruise control, Bluetooth, digital radio, aircon, push-button start, dynamic stability control and hill-hold assist.
The range-topping Sport Nav car I drove ramps up the kit levels with satnav, reversing camera, heated front seats, premium Bose sound system, smart keyless entry, a driver's head-up display, lane departure warning and city brake assist.
The only real compromise with the CX-3 comes with its practicality and space, which does bely the supermini platform on which it is based.
Rear head and legroom is adequate but you won't be stretching out on longer journeys, while the sweeping coupe-like roofline means you have to watch your head when getting in the back too.
Boot space, at 350 litres, is reasonable, and there is a hidden compartment beneath the false floor while the 60/40 split rear seats do fold flat to carry larger loads.
If having plenty of space is vital, though, you would be better off looking at the impressive CX-5, especially with entry level models coming in not much dearer than this range-topper.