THESE days people imagine they have to justify everything they buy with some sensible explanation as to why it’s important in their lives.
But what happened to the good, old-fashioned idea that when it comes to buying a car you possess it just because you like it? There’s no need for it to be practical, it doesn’t have to fit certain size parameters. It just catches your eye and keeps your attention.
Back in the day, style was important. The buying decision could be swayed by something as seemingly frivolous as you liked it and people accepted that logic. There was no analysis of whether its shape was practical – after all, if that counted who on earth would buy a Nissan Juke today or a Morris Minor back then? Both possess body curves that make the load space less practical than it could be.
We took the Mazda CX-3 on a day trip to the Cotswolds, a part of the country with a rich population of Mini variants, including those that apparently share their external dimensions with the old Austin Maxi which felt vast to drive in its ’70s heydays. It shows how cars have grown over the years that its modern equivalent wears a Mini badge!
The CX-3 is a very appealing car to look at, real eye candy. It takes the shape of the larger CX-5 and refines it while also condensing it and adding detail that accentuates all the best bits of the original with flourishes that make you want it as soon as you see it.
Add to the frivolous style the practicality of four-wheel drive and you end up with a car that can accomplish most things, from sparking a conversation when you park it outside the pub to getting you to your favourite watering hole when everything the weather can throw at you conspires against it.
With only 104bhp at your disposal from the 1.5 litre diesel engine, it might be thought the car might feel underpowered, especially with the 4×4 set-up to create extra power-sapping mechanicals.
But with a top speed well on the illegal side of the “ton” and 0-62 mph time of 10.5 seconds it’s a car that doesn’t hang about.
Smaller power outputs can also have an adverse impact on fuel consumption but this Mazda achieved 55mpg as an average, commendably close to the official 60.1mpg combined figure and that’s without any effort on our part to achieve it.
It may appear small outside but there’s plenty of interior space for passengers, possibly at the expense of luggage space that’s slightly more pinched as a five seater but matches the Nissan Juke as a two seater. A downside is the high lip for the small tailgate which means lifting heavy loads more than some people might wish to get them into the car.
The CX-3 cossets its front passengers particularly well despite the blackness of the test car’s trim only being relieved by some small splashes of dark red on the doors and red piping on the seats. Thankfully the headlining was a lighter shade – in the past Mazda had a penchant for black seats and black roof linings that felt oppressive.
Instrumentation is curious because the large dial in front of the driver is a rev counter rather than a speedometer. Speed readouts come as a digital display in the bottom right corner of the rev counter or, as on the test car, an optional head-up display that can’t be adjusted on the move. It needs a simple button to do the job, as on Peugeots with a similar display, rather than embedding it within the touch screen menu.
With its swooping waistline and narrow side glazing it would be safe to bet that visibility is limited but the view out from the front perches at least is good while reversing, already straightforward, is boosted by a reversing camera.
This makes it a car that doesn’t suffer from style outweighing substance and one that’s well able to fulfil the role of main family motor for the modern-day family of two adults and two kids.
Maurice and Annette Hardy
Car: Mazda CX-3 105ps AWD Sport Nav
Does it fit your ego…
0-62mph: 10.5 secs
Top speed: 107mph
Bhp: 104 @ 4000rpm
Torque: 199lb ft @ 1600-2500rpm
…and your wallet…
CO2 emissions: 123 g/km
Best bits: style that doesn’t defeat substance