By Mike Torpey on 2019-03-16 - 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 Sport
IT'S a compelling blend - crossover cool in a compact package.
And it's also something Mazda has expertly put together in the shape of its supermini-based CX-3.
The car-buying public can't get enough of small crossovers these days, and it's easy to understand why - they look that bit tougher than hatchbacks, yet don't usually come with costly off-road hardware.
On both looks and price - the starting point is £18,495 - the CX-3 certainly takes some beating in its category.
But for those who want to splash out a few 'grand' extra for something that's not only highly specced up but also more exclsuive, the Japanese brand has rolled out an eye-catching CX-3 Sport Black+ model.
Based on the 121ps SE-L Nav+ variant, it has a 2.0-litre petrol engine and comes with a choice of manual or automatic gearbox.
Just 500 cars are up for grabs to ensure exclusivity and buyers get a choice of three paint jobs in Soul Red Crystal metallic, Eternal Blue mica or Machine Grey metallic.
Styling-wise, a black rear spoiler and mirror caps sharpen the exterior styling while inside there are black leather seats as standard.
Costing £22,195 for manual and an extra £1,000 for automatic, there's kit like 18-inch silver alloy wheels, front parking sensors, a reversing camera, heated steering wheel and a colour head up display.
Of course not everyone wants to target the top end of the model range and the good news is that the rest of the line-up has been updated with a more upmarket cabin now designed around an electric parking brake.
The centre console flows more elegantly into the dash, while the Mazda Multimedia Commander has moved forward and there's now a padded armrest with console storage box beneath.
And invisible improvements like thicker sound isolation in the doors and enhanced rear glazing adds to a more premium feel overall.
Despite the CX-3's compact dimensions passenger space has never really been an issue except perhaps for three passengers across the back, and the well-shaped boot has a drop-in floor to aid loading.
Up for grabs is an eight model line-up that includes just a single, two wheel drive diesel variant powered by a new 1.8-litre SKYACTIV-D engine.
The lion's share of the range is powered by improved versions of the company's 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G petrol engine, available in 121 and 150ps power outputs, and with either two or four wheel drive.
Our model featured the lower powered of the pair - a smooth and sweet unit that not only has a fair kick but can also realistically return an average 44 miles per gallon.
Mazda CX-3 2.0 Sport Black+
Mechanical: 121ps, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 119mph
0-62mph: 9.0 seconds
Combined MPG: 47.9
Insurance Group: 17
C02 emissions: 137g/km
Bik rating: 28%
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.