Mazda refines CX-3

crossover

Mazda CX-3, 2017, tunnel
Mazda CX-3, 2017, bridge, Atlantic Highway, Norway
Mazda CX-3, 2017, front, action
Mazda CX-3, 2017, side, cornering
Mazda CX-3, 2017, side
Mazda CX-3, 2017, rear, action
Mazda CX-3, 2017, front
Mazda CX-3, 2017, interior
Mazda CX-3, 2017, side, static
Mazda CX-3, 2017, rear seats
Mazda CX-3, 2017, boot
Mazda CX-3, 2017, vertical

MAZDA is known for its ability to provide challenging drives and its latest epic to launch the latest CX-3 crossover was no different - a 650 mile drive in Norway spread over two days through some of the most spectacular scenery imagineable.

You might not think that is a great distance and I certainly have covered more miles in a single day but no motorways were involved and the twisting routes called for more than 10 hours in the car each day.

The result was that I had plenty of time to sample the refreshed CX-3, the company's revamped small SUV which first arrived back in 2015.

Most of the improvements and alterations to the small crossover can't be seen as they involve technology updates and other changes but they combine to make the CX-3 a more refined motor.

A new flagship GT Sport special edition model limited to just 500 cars joins the range and features the same equipment as the top Sport Nav model but adds unique styling cues and plusher interior trim.

The range now starts at £18,945, while the GT Sport costs £22,895 with a manual box and £24,095 with an automatic transmission.

Across the 13-model line up the CX-3 now gets Mazda's G-Vectoring control system to improve the cars handling, while small alterations have also been made to the suspension to provide a more comfortable ride.

The new CX-3 is also considerably quieter thanks to additional sound insulation.

Safety has also been improved with the autonomous emergency braking system standard on SE-L trim vehicles and above now using a camera to detect obstacles. It works at speeds up to 50mph and the vehicle collision avoidance threshold is now raised to 31mph.

The CX-3 has always offered generous equipment levels throughout the range and the updates mean that power folding mirrors are now standard across the entire range as is a new steering wheel which is also heated in Sport Nav cars.

As before a variety of petrol and diesel models are available, as is two and four-wheel-drive.

My drive was tackled in the tweaked 1.5-litre turbodiesel model which now features what Mazda calls Transient Control to give a more positive throttle response by reducing turbo lag and boosting torque creating an almost petrol like engine feel.

The engine is also a lot quieter than before thanks to other noise reduction changes and at £21,395 in SE-L Nav trim is the sensible buy in the range. It offers a claimed combined figure of 70.6mpg with emissions of 105g/km.

Performance is more than adequate and the cabin has room for four adults and is nicely finished in quality materials.

The route from Stavanger in the south to Trondheim in the north included no fewer than 68 tunnels - The Laerdal being the longest road tunnel in the world at some 15 miles and the world's deepest, the Eiksund tunnel -both incredible feats of engineering.

Numerous ferry trips also broke the journey but I was always happy to get behind the wheel of the new CX-3.

Much of the journey was tackled in foul weather but the CX-3 was up to the challenge and even the mighty Trolls' Ladder's 11 hairpains were dismissed with ease despite visibility being down to a few metres.

My journey ended on the breathtaking Atlantic Road which lasts only five miles but features some truly impressive causeways, viaducts and eight bridges to link numerous small islands.

Mazda's 'Fun to Drive' philosophy results in all their products being good to drive and the latest CX-3 is no exception.

It may be much more refined than before but it still offers great looks and a sporty drive.

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