The Mazda CX-3 is without doubt one of the most popular compact SUV in Malaysia, which I think what attracts many is Mazda’s expressive KODO design language and complementary exterior colours that stands out from the rest. First launched in Malaysia two years ago, the CX-3 still looks fresh and relevant and even in this slightly updated GVC version nothing has changed much visually.
Based on the Mazda2, the CX-3 has little resemblance to the entry-level model; it sits much higher, it’s got large 17-inch wheels and matte black plastic wheel wells for that rugged look. No doubt, this is one good-looking SUV.
Also, If you’ve driven the smaller 2, hopping into the CX-3 feels uncanny. The only difference though is that the door cards comes with suede and faux leather soft-touch areas, especially the former is a nice place to rest your arm on.
The newly fitted three-spoke steering wheel appears and feels a lot less bulky housing more buttons for cruise control, audio and telephony. If you need to shift through the ratios, you can do so via the gear selector – pull down to go up a gear and push up to go down a gear, which is the default sequential gearshift sequence in most racecars. Likewise, you can also shift gears via the paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel.
What you can expect is that the build quality is on par with the higher Mazda models. The dials and buttons are within reach of the driver and feel great to the touch with good tactile feedback. The Commander control located between the driver and passenger is easy and intuitive to navigate without having your eyes away from the road ahead.
The seven-inch MZD touchscreen is located within line of sight and doesn’t intrude into the whole driving view, no matter how high or low the driver sits. The infotainment has clear menus and sensible layout, which makes it intuitive and easy to use in conjunction with the MZD Commander Control.
The CX-3 GVC also comes equipped an updated version of the Mazda Active Display heads-up-display positioned on the dashboard within driver’s line of sight, which displays current travelling speed with blind spot indicators synced to the satellite navigation system in high resolution.
Sound reproduction from its six speakers is not too shabby. With Hidden Orchestra’s Disquiet on play, the speakers offer sound that is faithful to the track’s expressive orchestral textures with field recordings, bass, and layers of drums and percussion impressively well.
Likewise with the dashboard the CX-3 comes with seats taken from the Mazda2 with suede inserts that feels good to sit in. These seats may look tiny, but they can accommodate small and large frame individuals without any problems offering good lateral support and comfort on long distance trips.
The driver seat is an eight-way electrically adjustable with lumbar support and comes with two memory presets. Simply adjust the seat to your liking, press the ‘Set’ button and you’ll hear a short beep and pressing one of the numbered buttons will emit a longer beep to tell you that your setting has been saved. In contrast, the front passenger is only able to adjust the seat manually.
At the back, the rear can fit two adults side by side with adequate amount of leg and headroom. However, fitting three people at the rear can cause a little discomfort, as the middle passenger will have to make do with the tall transmission tunnel in between.
Boot space is decent for a compact SUV; with the seats up, the CX-3 has 350-litres, which beats the likes of the Ford EcoSport. That figure jumps to 1,260-litres when the seats are folded down.
The boot is well shaped and there are no protruding bulges, plus there’s a shallow under floor storage bay, which the false floor can be folded away for extra room. The boot opening isn’t pronounced but the boot opening is high due to its raised ride height.
Motive forces come from a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder engine, which makes 154hp at 6,000 rpm and 204Nm of torque at 2,800 rpm. The SKYACTIV-G lump can be described as torquey at the lower end of the rev range and linear towards the red line, while the clever Skyactiv-Drive six-speed automatic gearbox complements the engine’s torque centric characteristics.
This allows the 2.0-litre lump to consume as little fuel as it possibly can; as tested on the highway, the Mazda3 is able to achieve a frugal 4.2l/100km while driving conservatively within the legal speed limit. When the power is needed, it is able to provide adequate amounts of push, enough to overtake vehicles at highway speeds.
Besides its fuel-efficient engine, the refreshed CX-3 now comes with the new G-Vectoring Control or GVC for short. How it works is actually rather simple; it is an electronic system that momentarily pauses ignition when the sensors determine steering angle and traveling speed. This brief interruption of power literally takes less time than the blink of an eye and unnoticeable, which dips the front end of the vehicle at causes the mass to move forward, which improves grip, stability and response. GVC can also help the driver to make far lesser steering adjustments when turning, too.
What this means Is that the passengers’ ride comfort is improved dramatically, which the imperceptible change in velocity and the dip of the of the vehicle’s nose signals passengers’ brains that a change of direction is imminent, which prepares their neck muscles and equilibrium for the turn.
That said, the CX-3 is one step above the non-GVC version; with the help of the fine adjustments in engine output when turning into corners, the car drives more sure footedly through fast and tight bends, which gives the driver a lot of confidence and help them to drive a lot more smoother. Understeer isn’t much of an issue, too. As mentioned, the driver is able to hold the steering straight without having to make slight adjustments to correct to compensate uneven and undulating road surfaces.
The Mazda CX-3 GVC not only looks good, but also handles way better than most of its rivals; better yet it is able to keep the occupants from feeling carsick. The interior is roomy and well put together with plenty of useful storage spaces.
The engine is able to provide frugal fuel consumption and it is able to provide a good amount of performance for the daily commute and the weekend drive. If you do opt for one, the Mazda3 GVC comes with 5 Years Manufacturer Warranty or 100,000KM whichever comes first and 3 Years Free Maintenance or 60,000KM whichever comes first.
+ Dynamic design
+ Easy and intuitive controls
+ Frugal fuel consumption
+ Fun to drive
+ Massive low-end torque
Mazda CX-3 GVC (CKD)
Price Msia: RM134,338.30 (OTR W/ Insurance)
Engine: 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder
Top Speed: 200km/h (Tested)
Fuel consumption: 4.6 litres/100km (Tested)