Mazda to unveil CX-3 for small crossover market

28 Oct 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

LA MOTOR SHOW: World debut for Mazda CX-3.

The steady but slow pace of change at Mazda is shifting into high gear with the world debut of three key new models in 2014 – and the promise of more to come in 2015. Next month at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Japanese automaker plans to unveil its rival for models such as the Nissan Juke, Buick Encore and Subaru XV Crosstrek: a high-riding subcompact called the CX-3.

Expect Mazda’s new 77kW/250Nm 1.5 litre diesel engine to feature in overseas models, while the local range is likely to get 1.5 litre petrol options. Mazda today released a teaser sketch of the CX-3, which shows the new model will combine Mazda’s swoopy Kodo design language with cues from the SUV world, such as an upright ride and thick wheel arches. We’ve previously heard that the compact crossover will be based on the third-generation Mazda2 subcompact hatchback, sharing its Skyactiv chassis, powertrains and available technologies. Mazda CX-3 is the fifth vehicle in Mazda’s line-up of new-generation products that feature the full range of SKYACTIV Technology and KODO—Soul of Motion design. The new crossover is expected to debut on the same Skyactiv chassis that underpins the third-generation Mazda 2 hatchback, which will also be on display.

Engines should be mated to six-speed manual and automatic transmissions, and we can likely also expect the CX-3 to be offered in front-wheel-drive form only. It follows the recent global debut in Japan of the fourth-generation Mazda2/Demio hatchback and the summertime global unveiling of the next-generation Mazda MX-5/Miata. Positioned beneath the CX-5 and CX-9 in Mazda’s lineup, the CX-3 is scheduled to go on sale in mid-2015, sources told Automotive News earlier this year. In pursuing a design of beauty and sophistication, the essence of KODO—the expression of life within a vehicle—has been evolved to produce a sharper form with an enhanced sense of speed. It would be Mazda’s first subcompact crossover ever and is likely being built as a response to Honda’s new HRV subcompact crossover–basically the new CR-V mini-me.

The teaser sketch that accompanied the press release even suggests the Mazda CX-3 will look like a high-riding 2, with an insider claiming the styling will “blow everyone away with its stunning looks”. Mazda Australia refused to comment on the surprise news from our Japanese sources, who have confirmed the long-awaited Mazda2-based crossover is indeed just three weeks away from its international premiere. Both will get a new front fascia and interior for the 2016 model year, including new instrument clusters, more premium materials and a version of the infotainment system already offered in the Mazda3 compact car. The engine line-up for the all-new MX-5 will be tailored to each market, and feature either a 1.5-liter or 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G gasoline engine, tuned exclusively for the model and mounted longitudinally. With the 2 measuring 4060mm long, the CX-3 shouldn’t stretch much beyond 4.1m in length, putting it at the small end in terms of size against rivals that include the Holden Trax, Ford EcoSport, Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 and Nissan Juke.

The CX-3’s relationship to the Mazda 2 means it will be front-wheel-drive only, with engines set to include the 2’s duo of 1.5-litre four-cylinder engines. Mazda’s suite of active safety and connectivity technologies could be available on higher trim levels, and pricing for the CX-3 should undercut the larger CX-5 crossover’s base price of $22,375. The CX-3 will be the Japanese brand’s first direct rival for small SUVs like the Hyundai ix35, Subaru XV, Holden Trax, Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan QASHQAI and JUKE, Volkswagen Tiguan and Ford EcoSport. The higher-spec engine has 81kW and 141Nm but adds stop-start, variable valve timing and a higher compression ratio to improve fuel efficiency further.

That means a higher ride height, new body panels and chunkier offroad-style appendages, as indicated by our rendering, and a new 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine delivering about 80kW and 140Nm. Beyond that from later in 2016, however, Mazda is understood to be planning a host of sports and green models, including a Mazda6 coupe, MPS versions of the Mazda2, 3 and 6, and a diesel-hybrid Mazda6. But Mazda’s move to its next-generation SKYACTIV II technologies from 2018 is also expected to bring the Japanese car-maker’s first all-electric and plug-in hybrid powertrains, the latter employing rotary range-extender technology from the previous Mazda2 PHEV concept. However, Mazda’s renaissance will be complete by 2020 – its centenary year – when it will reincarnate its trademark rotary-powered coupe as the all-new RX-9 flagship. The long-overdue RX-7 replacement will emerge in concept form as early as 2017 – when Mazda’s original Cosmo Sports rotary turns 50 – powered by a 335kW-plus two-stage turbo hybrid powertrain.

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