Mazda doesn’t believe in change for change’s sake. That’s probably why it left it the CX-3’s good looks alone and instead concentrated on its few technical shortcomings including excessive road noise, less-than refined handling on rough roads and the noisy diesel engine.
It also chucked in some active safety gear including automatic emergency braking across the range – the first compact SUV to do so.
TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR
Third up in the CX-3’s four-model line-up, the sTouring comes with a competitive list of standard features and a choice of 2.0-litre petrol and 1.5-litre turbo diesel engines, as well as front- and all-wheel drivetrains. We drove the sTouring AWD Diesel that ris priced from $33,390.
- While the 77kW/270Nm 1.5-litre turbo-diesel engine has carried over from the previous model, Mazda has improved throttle response by adding something called ‘High-Precision DE Boost Control’. It is designed to minimise turbo lag – that moment of hesitation when you hit a diesel engined-car’s accelerator and nothing much happens for a slight moment -- which helps to make it more zippy, particularly in stop/start traffic.
- The diesel engine is also quieter and sounds less truck-like thanks to a “sound smoother” that makes the engine clatter less by cushioning the piston pin, and an engineering tweak Mazda calls the Natural Sound Frequency Control, which suppresses the engine’s sound waves much like noise-cancelling headphones.
- Better handling thanks to the inclusion of Mazda’s SkyActiv G-Vectoring Control (GVC) that uses the engine to enhance chassis performance. It does this by slightly reducing the engine’s revs to tip more weight onto the front wheels, resulting in smoother cornering.
- Front suspension arms are redesigned and damper bushes realigned to give a more refined ride on rougher surfaces, and less side-to-side movement.
- Noise, vibration and harshness (NVR) is improved via thicker carpet, and extra sound insulation in the dash panel and floor tunnel. Thicker trim seals line the C-pillar and tailgate opening.
- The sTouring comes with advanced active safety features as standard including forward and reverse automatic emergency braking (Smart City Brake Support), blind spot monitoring, an alert that sounds if you’re about to back out into the path of oncoming traffic, adaptive headlights and speed limit sign recognition.
- The cockpit features a newly designed steering wheel taken from the larger seven-seat CX-9, a head-up display and improved, illuminated dashboard graphics that are much clearer than the old CX-3’s LCD display.
- An attractive, clutter-free interior includes a floating seven-inch screen controlled by a dial mounted on the centre console.
- The seating position feels more car-like and the seats are comfortable.
- Satellite navigation and a digital radio are standard.
- Apart from a new paint colour and alloy wheel finish, there are no exterior changes to help show it’s the updated model.
- The 264-litre boot space is very tight, as is rear legroom.
- Rear side vision is limited, particularly for children in the back seats, because of the high window line.
- None of the all-wheel-drive versions come with the delightful six-speed manual transmission.
- The dial used to control the multimedia screen is too far back on the centre console, meaning you have to reach back and look down to use it.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
This update should help the Mazda CX-3 remain competitive at the top of the small-SUV rankings against the likes of the Toyota C-HR, Holden Trax,Honda HR-V, Mitsubishi ASX, Peugeot 2008, Suzuki Vitara, Suzuki S-Cross and Ford EcoSport.