Facelifted Mazda CX-3 small SUV road test and review
THERE is little need to fix something which isn't broken. That's the motivation behind a raft of minor changes to Mazda's segment-leading CX-3.
All the action has occurred beneath the high-riding hatch's skin with evolutionary progression in safety, ride quality and driving dynamics.
Powertrains are uncharged with the option of a 2.0-litre petrol or a so far unloved 1.5-litre diesel - which accounts for only about 3% of sales.
Movement has come in pricing courtesy of additional features. Base model Neo starts from $20,490 plus on-roads for the manual (add $2000 for the auto), while the second shelf Maxx has also risen by $500 to start from $22,890 (all-wheel drive is a $4000 premium with a self-shifter).
The third-tier sTouring remains the same from $26,990, while the range-topping Akaris rise $200 to $35,490 for the petrol and $37,890 with an oil-burner.
Minoru Takata from Mazda's product division said the marque had avoided change for change's sake.
"We focused on refinement rather than wholesale changes," he said.
An automotive Rainman will need a keen eye to find a 2017 model, with the only external differences coming via the availability of a new blue hue, while high grades also get gun metallic 18-inch alloys.
The changes are designed to keep pace with newcomers to the segment which has quickly found favour, now encompassing Toyota's C-HR and the cheapie Suzuki Ignis.
Trumping key rivals in the Mitsubishi ASX, Toyota C-HR, Honda HR-V, Holden Trax and Nissan Qashqai, Mazda has added an automated braking functionality to help avoid accidents when travelling forward and in reverse across the range. Others only work to avoid frontal crashes.
Smart City Brake Support monitors its surroundings to assess the likelihood of a collision. If there is a high risk, the system will warn the driver and brake automatically if needed - functionality which adds to the usual suite including anti-lock brakes and stability control.
For those stepping up into the Maxx grade, and most buyers do, you also gain blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and a reversing camera. The next level sTouring now has drowsiness alert as well as speed limit sign recognition, with the Akari models then adding lane keeping assist, adaptive LED headlamps and front parking sensors.
On the road
Incremental improvements are designed to improve comfort and dynamics.
Reduced cabin noise is difficult to ascertain, but new engine mounts in petrol models and additional sound deadening material has been introduced to limit wind, tyre and engine rumbles.
The range also picks up suspension changes to improve steering response along with Mazda's much-trumpeted G-Vectoring software.
Ultimately the vast majority would struggle to feel the impact of G-Vectoring, which is what the marque regards as an electronic guardian angel. Software reduces engine power in milliseconds when cornering which puts more weight over the front tyres and is designed to give more grip in the bends.
Like most great passive safety features it's imperceptible, but without doubt the little Mazda is supremely confident and adept whether cruising through town or cutting a swathe through winding rural roads at 100kmh.
Diesel models should also offer more refinement with a "Natural Sound Smoother" and other equally well named updates to reduce vibrations and noise.
One of the biggest changes comes via a new steering wheel that offers improved feel in your hands. The driver's instrument cluster has also been updated with sharper needles, gauges and fonts.
Verdict : 4 Stars
Rock-solid with an attractive skin, running changes to the Mazda CX-3 will do little to light the fires of desire but rather remain more attractive to those chasing value and a reliable package.
Mazda has raised the bar with the automated braking function as standard across the range when travelling forward and in reverse, with tweaks and refinements adding extra polish to the existing shine.
Safety: Five star, six airbags.
Engines: Petrol - 2.0-litre 4cyl 109kW/192Nm. Diesel - 1.5-litre 4cyl 77kW/270Nm.
Transmissions: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. FWD and AWD.
Thirst: Petrol - 6.1-6.7 litres/100km. Diesel - 4.8L/100km. Dimensions: 4265mm (L), 1765mm (W), 1550mm (H), 2570mm (WB).
Spare: Space saver steel. steal.
Towing: Petrol - 1200kg. Diesel - 800kg. Tow ball 50kg.
What matters most
Warranty: Three-year unlimited kilometre.
Capped price servicing: Total cost over four years or 40,000km is $1520 for petrol and diesel, incorporating cabin air filter and brake fluid replacement.
Service intervals: Annual or every 10,000km.
What's it got: Smart City Brake Support as standard, G-Vectoring steering functionality.
What it hasn't: Rear camera in Neo (it is an $791.24 option fitted), major changes since launch in 2015.
2.0L petrol plus on-roads
Neo (m) FWD $20,490
Neo (a) FWD $22,490
Maxx (m) FWD $22,890
Maxx (a) FWD $24,890
Maxx (a) AWD $26,890
sTouring (m) FWD $26,990
sTouring (a) FWD $28,990
sTouring (a) AWD $30,990
Akari (m) FWD $31,490
Akari (a) FWD $33,490
Akari (a) AWD $35,490
1.5L diesel plus on-roads
Maxx (a) FWD $27,290
sTouring (a) AWD $33,390
Akari (a) AWD $37,890
Soul red metallic is the only paint costs which attracts and an additional $300 charge.