Bigger is better for

diesel Mazda CX-3

Mazda CX-3, front action
Mazda CX-3, front action 2
Mazda CX-3, side action
Mazda CX-3, rear action
Mazda CX-3, front static
Mazda CX-3, rear seats
Mazda CX-3, dash detail
Mazda CX-3, dashboard
Mazda CX-3, boot

MAZDA has made life easy for anyone wanting a diesel engine in the new lightly made over CX-3 SUV range; there's just one version to choose from.

In which case, you'll be pleased that it comes in full bells and whistles trim and with a slightly larger engine in pursuit of making the car better to drive and more economical at the same time.

At which point the plot thickens, for comparison between old (1.5-litre) and the new 1.8-litre diesel model is made pretty near impossible because the way car makers must measure things has just got tougher.

So, on paper, the new engine is actually less economical (64.2mpg v 70.7mpg) and puts out more CO2 (114g/km v 105g/km) from its tailpipe than before.

That fog of figures probably means you'll see about the same real world economy, with something the right side of 50mpg comfortably possible.

And there's no debate about the extra performance gained with a horsepower hike from the new diesel engine, now producing 115hp instead of 105hp, upping top speed from 110mph to 114mph and taking a fraction off the 0-62mph time, now 9.9 seconds, down from 10.1 seconds.

But enough of figures; the revised CX-3 range - which will mostly see petrol powered cars emerge from the showroom - has been given a modest refresh on the outside (new grille, darkened side pillars) and a more thorough going over inside.

The old conventional handbrake is replaced by an electronic version, allowing the rotary control for functions like sat nav to be made more easily reached. Some drivers will mourn the loss of the DIY parking brake, even if nobody uses either version these days.

Extra soundproofing and subtle changes to the suspension have the twin aims of hushing progress inside and making the car feel a bit more reactive to a driver's commands - not something the old CX-3 was notably lacking in anyway.

All this is happening as Mazda cuts the CX-3 range to just eight models, starting at £18,995 for a 2.0-litre 121 horsepower SE Nav+ with two-wheel drive and topping out at £24,995 with an all-wheel drive Sport Nav+ 2.0-litre 150 horsepower with petrol engine.

There is room for but a solitary diesel, in the shape of the £22,895 2WD Sport Nav+, waving goodbye to the old option of auto gears and all-wheel drive.

That top trim level brings a well equipped car, with an easily programmed and clearly presented sat nav system, equally clear reversing camera, head up display with speed and sat nav directions in the driver's line of sight, heated steering wheel and front seats, Bose audio and 18-inch alloys.

Out on the road the car is certainly never loud enough to notice after the recent attention to its soundproofing, even when stirred along enthusiastically with the best manual gearchange in the business.

Of course, an advantage of a punchy diesel is the way it lets you change to higher gears and still retain enough push for main road action or prompt overtaking, and the new and bigger power unit is properly up to snuff on both scores.

The changed suspension means the CX-3 stays as good to drive as any smallish but tallish SUV is likely to get but you'll still feel the rougher of roads as the wheels work hard to smooth the way ahead.

So, here is an attractive looking SUV with high economy potential that's just been made a bit better all round. If diesel makes sense for your lifestyle, go for it.

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