The new model also shares 80% of its parts with the new Mazda 2 supermini, a high proportion that shows how sophisticated engineers have become in spinning new variants off humble hatchback platforms. "We have worked hard on commonality, but also making the two versions very different," CX-3 project manager Michio Tomiyama said.
Mazda has carried over the suspension from the Mazda 2, while beefing up the rear twist beam axle and cleverly modifying the lower arms of the supermini’s front struts to give a raised ride height. The conventional, hydraulic power steering is carried over, too, albeit retuned to suit the soft-roader.
A choice of 118bhp or 148bhp 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G petrol engine is available in the CX-3, while the 1.5-litre 105bhp engine from the 2 is carried over. This engine emits 105g/km of CO2 in 2WD manual guise. The higher-powered petrol engine is available only as a four-wheel-drive manual variant in Sport Nav trim.
Strangely, Mazda will offer the CX-3 with only diesel power in Japan, positioning clean diesel as a competitor to petrol hybrids in the absence of a Mazda petrol hybrid powertrain.
The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, but a six-speed automatic is available with the lower-powered petrol and diesel engines. The four-wheel drive system gets the same torque vectoring technology we've already seen on the CX-5. It's standard on the diesel auto CX-3 and optional on all other models.
The interior design is close to the 2's. It has the same slim fascia architecture and a 7.0in colour touchscreen that is controlled by a dial between the front seats, and which is able to offer sat-nav and internet-streamed services. The new model gets the same range of safety technology as well, including a lane-departure warning system, blind spot monitoring and city emergency braking.
Five trim levels are available: SE, SE Nav, SE-L, SE-L Nav and Sport Nav. Entry-level SE trim comes with 16in alloys, and heated and electric folding wing mirrors. SE-L adds rear privacy glass, front LED foglights, heated seats, automatic wipers and rear parking sensors. Range-topping Sport Nav comes with LED headlights, LED rear lights, 18in alloys and chrome door sills. It also adds an upgraded Bose stereo, keyless entry, a reversing camera and a head-up display.
The CX-3 will go on sale on 19 June this year. UK prices position it in the middle of the market and above cheaper rivals’ entry-level models. Petrol versions will range from £17,595 for the entry-level 2WD in manual guise with SE trim, to £22,495 for the AWD 148bhp 2.0-litre manual in Sport Nav trim. Diesel prices will range from £18,995 for a 2WD CX-3 in SE trim to £24,695 for the AWD Sport Nav CX-3 with an automatic gearbox.
"We know there are new premium entrants coming and we will position the CX-3 against premium rivals, not entry-level competitors," said Jeremy Thomson, Mazda UK boss.
Read our full road test on the Mazda's baby SUV - the CX-3
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