FOLLOWING the success of compact crossovers such as the Nissan Juke, Mazda wants to get in on the action, with its new small off-roader, the CX-3, which it unveiled at a special preview event at the recent Los Angeles Motor Show, writes Chris Lloyd.
Slotting into the Mazda range below the popular CX-5 off-roader and based on the 2 supermini, this new Mazda enters one of the fastest-growing parts of the car industry and was on display in LA.
In its armoury, the CX-3 will feature the sharp ‘Kodo’ lines that now characterise Mazda’s range, a stylish interior and the option of front- and all-wheel drive.
Three engines will be on offer – two 2.0-litre petrol units and a 1.5-litre diesel. All models feature six-speed gearboxes and a six-speed automatic will also join the range which will be priced from £11,995 to £17,395 on-the-road.
The new model will be launched in spring 2015 and should boast an impressive blend of economy and performance, becoming the fifth Mazda to feature the company’s ‘SKYACTIV’ fuel-saving technologies. The car will also feature Mazda’s latest all-wheel-drive system, for added traction on slippery surfaces.
The CX-3 will additionally benefit from a range of new ‘i-ACTIVSENSE’ safety kit, along with a lightweight yet stiff body construction. In-car entertainment will be taken care of with Mazda’s MZD-Connect in-car media system. Also on show at Mazda’s stand at the LA motor show were the new MX-5 roadster and updated versions of the 6 and CX-5 off-roader.
Mazda CX-3 in a class of its own
‘WE DON’T do cartoon cars.’ These are the words of Kevin Rice, design director of Mazda’s R&D centre, on the topic of the new CX-3.
While this compact off-roader could be seen to go head-to-head with the popular and boldly-styled Juke, Rice vehemently denies that Mazda’s new creation competes with this small Nissan: ‘We don’t see it as a rival at all. The Juke has its own character and I think the people we’re hopefully going to impress with the CX-3 have a completely different understanding of design.
‘We believe the CX-3 is going to start a new segment. It has to be sophisticated, it has to handle really, really well, it has to show that sporting handling and the design has to bring that across.’
Rice goes as far as to describe Mazda’s new off-roader as a consummate all-rounder; a machine which blends sharp design with equally-sharp handling, the option of four-wheel drive and a practical interior.
Also starring at the LA show was the new smaller MX-5, which has shed 100kg over its predecessor. Explaining the weight loss, Rice says: ‘We said let’s go back to the initial inspiration, which was the 1960s sports cars – lightweight, lightweight, lightweight.
‘We looked at every detail of the design, and the engineering was put under scrutiny to find out where it could be reduced weight-wise without compromising safety or performance. And that was a hell of a job.’
Rice claims the new car needed to look tougher and more purposeful than the previous model, and maintain the classic roadster proportions of the original MX-5 with a long bonnet and a muscular design.