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Future models - Mazda - CX-3

LA show: Mazda unveils CX-3

X man: Mazda’s CX-3 will muscle into the small SUV class next year, powered by a 2.0-litre SkyActiv petrol engine.

Fashionably late Mazda CX-3 baby SUV steps out ahead of 2015 launch in Oz

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Mazda logo19 Nov 2014

By RON HAMMERTON

MAZDA’S CX-3 baby SUV has taken a bow at the Los Angeles motor show, heralding the Japanese company’s belated entry into the booming small SUV market.

Set to go on sale in Australia in the second quarter of next year - immediately after the Japanese launch - the sub-CX-5 crossover will take on the likes of Hyundai’s ix35, Subaru XV, Mitsubishi ASX and a host of other rivals around the globe.

Mazda says the CX-3 is set to become a core model of its line-up, joining the likes of the Mazda3, Mazda6 and CX-5 on the best-selling list.

It says the CX-3 offers “all the essentials people look for in a car – a design of overwhelming quality and style, packaging developed solely with the customer’s ease-of-use in mind, and the responsive driving feel that Mazda strives for in every model”.

Mazda is somewhat late to the compact SUV party compared with some of its rivals, but is confident it now has the weapon to take a sizeable chunk of the fastest growing segment in the Australian auto industry in 2014.

So far this year, small SUV sales are up 17.4 per cent, compared with 5.3 per cent for all SUVs.

Based on the Mazda2 small car launched in Australia last month, the all-wheel-drive CX-3 will be powered by a choice of two SkyActiv engines – a 1.5-litre diesel and 2.0-litre petrol – depending on market. No power or torque figures were given in early media releases, but both engine are expected in Australia.

It also is expected to be available in a choice of all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive.

With a body bearing the familiar Kodo design theme of recent Mazda models, the CX-3 was unveiled alongside the new MX-5 roadster and updated Mazda6 in LA.

No pricing has been announced for Australia, but a mid-$20k starting price might be speculated. The bigger Mazda CX-5 medium SUV starts from $27,880 for the two-wheel-drive Maxx, and tops out at a tick under $50,000 for the diesel AWD Akera flagship.

Small SUV segment leader is Hyundai’s ix35 with 15,028 sales, followed by the Subaru XV (9772) and Mitsubishi ASX (7897).

Among the fast-rising stars of the segment is Holden’s Trax, with 4912 sales.

Honda is also planning an entry into the class via its new Jazz-based HR-V.

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