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Future models - Mazda - CX-3

Mazda CX-3 set for 2015 launch

Future baby: Mazda's CX-3 compact crossover will be based on the Mazda2 light car that was previewed by the Hazumi concept (left) from this year's Geneva motor show.

Expect to see long-awaited Mazda CX-3 compact SUV by the end of next year

Mazda logo6 Jun 2014

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in HIROSHIMA

MAZDA’S answer to the Holden Trax, Nissan Juke and Ford EcoSport is on track for an Australian debut sometime in the second half of 2015.

Based on the next-generation Mazda2 light car due in Australia early next year, the all-new CX-3 will kick off from the low-$20,000 mark as the Japanese company’s entry-level crossover underneath its best-selling CX-5.

A range of new high-compression 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol and turbo-diesel engines in six-speed manual and automatic transmission guises will reportedly debut with the compact crossover.

Crucially for the brand, the diesel is set to boost Mazda’s appeal in Europe, in a segment where rivals such as the Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur have waiting lists stretching out for several months.

The latter’s success has already delayed its Australian release by more than six months from original plans, with the last quarter of this year now pencilled in for the Clio-derived model.

While the modular SkyActiv transverse engine platform elements shared with the larger Mazda3, CX-5 and Mazda6 will underpin the CX-3, it will ditch their multi-link rear end for a torsion beam suspension system to help keep costs, as well as weight, down in an extremely price-sensitive market.

Whether the newcomer will follow the Nissan Juke's lead by offering an all-wheel drive option or remain a solely front-wheel drive proposition like most of its competitors is not yet known.

According to Mazda Motor Corporation program manager for CX-5 and CX-9, Masashi Otsuka, the global market potential for compact SUV sales is enormous.

Although he refused to talk about the CX-3, he did concede that younger generation buyers are drawn in by the high-ride height and contemporary design of models such as the Juke.

“In Japan younger women especially like the elevated seat height… our research shows it helps with driving confidence,” he said.

With the Trax, Juke, 2008, EcoSport, Suzuki S-Cross and facelifted Skoda Yeti all surfacing in Australia over the last nine months, the segment will see further debuts next year in the shape of the Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade and an as-yet secret Kia.

The Hyundai ix35, Nissan Dualis and Mitsubishi ASX – three ageing warhorses that are expected to be bumped up into the medium SUV category when their larger respective successors arrive in the not-too-distant future – currently dominate the class in Australia.

Sales in the small SUV segment sales rose by nearly 15 per cent in the first five months of this year.

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