By Mike Torpey on 2016-07-22 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Mazda CX-3 2.0 2WD
STYLE and technology are a compelling combination in today's new car market.
So too is crossover cool in a compact package - and all are attributes Mazda has put together in the striking shape of its supermini-based CX-3.
The plan all along was to take the SUV scene by storm and the Japanese manufacturer lined up a big battalion from day one last summer with an 18-strong line-up.
The CX-3 comes via a choice of 11 petrol and seven diesel variants, all featuring the brand's fuel-saving SKYACTIV technology plus a swathe of standard kit.
Staying a step of your rivals though is all-important and Mazda has upped the ante with techno treats aimed at staying ahead of the pack.
So stuff like the Japanese company's i-ACTIVSENSE safety systems are on every model along with a seven-inch touch screen, DAB radio, multi-function steering wheel and Bluetooth.
What instantly grabs the attention is the Mazda's coupe-like style - it looks larger than you might expect from a small SUV while displaying a sense of speed with its flowing lines.
Opt for some of the vibrant paint jobs with chrome side strips and 18-inch machined alloy wheels and the CX-3 really looks the business.
There's a choice of five trim grades, with prices from £17,595 to £24,695, an attractive cabin, two-tone leather upholstery in higher spec variants and as high quality sound system.
It's a tight squeeze for three passengers across the back, though the centre rear position is comfortable, and while the boot is on the small side the rear seats do split and fold 60/40.
The most frugal engine on offer is the 1.5-litre diesel, which can return a potential 70 miles per gallon, but the 2.0-litre petrol units have been proving more popular.
Of the pair, developing either 120 or 150ps, the lower powered version with front-wheel drive provides ample punch and reasonable economy.
We recorded an average return of 44mpg over 350 miles of mixed urban and motorway driving in a car that feels spirited, poised and well balanced.
That even the most basic models come well kitted out is an attraction in itself, while Sport Nav grade brings items you don't generally find in this category of car like a head-up display and LED headlights.
And plenty of thought has gone into the design of the CX-3 to make it as user friendly as possible too.
Mazda CX-3 2.0 2WD Sport Nav
Mechanical: 120ps, 1,998cc 4-cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via six-speed manual transmission
Max Speed: 119mph
0-62mph: 9.0 seconds
Combined MPG: 47.9
Insurance Group: 17
C02 emissions: 137g/km
Bik rating: 24%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
Choose from one or more of the options to find the car for you.
Based on your search find the dealership
nearest to you.