THERE are some relatively affordable cars out there that are pure driver magnets.
The Mazda CX-3 is one of them.
As soon as you settle into the driver's seat the whole car feels right beforeyou even start to move.
Get started and wind it through the bends on some demanding roads and the car's superb grip and steering shine through to make this a car that you could never tire of.
The CX-3 is one of the new breed of crossovers and is based on the Mazda2. In typical Mazda style itcombines impressive handling and body control with a high standard of ride comfort.
It is typically Mazda in looks with a prominent bonnet and the latest trappings that proudly shout that it is a Mazda.
There are a whole lot of crossovers out there including the formidable Nissan Juke and the Renault Captur, but this has to be one of the best I have driven.
It loses out in some ways because the boot space could have been better and it is not one of the cheapest choices. However, in the boot there is a false floor leading to extra storage space and in terms of price you do get a sparkler of a car for the cash.
This was the 105ps two-wheel-drive diesel option in Sport Nav configuration. It features bags of torque and although not quite a hot hatch it imparts that premium sporty feel that many drivers crave.
The stats of this car make interesting reading because for a 110mph top speed and 0-62mph acceleration of 10.1 seconds you get a combined mpg figure of 70.6. Figures that would have been deemed unthinkable a couple of decades ago.
In this configuration the Mazda CX-3 comes with a six-speed manual gearbox only.
In essence this is a taller and more hunky development of the Mazda2 and its commanding driving position is a real asset.
There is a four-wheel-drivemanufactured but all eyes are on the livelytwo-wheel-drivemodels which are powering Mazda's sales.
In some ways it rides on the success of the larger CX-5, but it is no mere tribute act. The CX-3 has created a niche all of its own in a very crowded and highly competitive marketplace.