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Next-gen Mazda CX-3 to grow up

Size matters: The current CX-3 (left) is one of the smaller offerings in the small-SUV segment, but the second-generation model will grow in size.

Second-gen CX-3 footprint to expand with expected switch to larger Mazda3 platform

7 Sep 2018

MAZDA is set to unveil an all-new CX-3 as soon as 2020, with the company expected to expand the crossover’s size, space and utility as it seeks to address some of the packaging and refinement issues that have held the existing version back in some markets outside of Australia.
The second-generation CX-3 is expected to switch from the B-segment Mazda2 base to the next-gen Mazda3 small-car platform, ensuring it will most likely dimensionally align with larger rivals such as the Toyota C-HR and Hyundai Kona, while retaining the sleek and sporty design themes of the current vehicle.
Furthermore, the platform would be the more-advanced SkyActiv II architecture that is due to debut in the all-new Mazda3 during 2019, bringing with it a stronger body structure as well as a stiffer chassis.
Revealed in prototype form at the next-gen Mazda3 prototype drive in Germany in August last year, this component subset also includes a re-engineered torsion beam rear suspension system that is said to finally quell noise and vibration paths entering the cabin.
Speaking to GoAuto last year, Mazda Motor Company director and oversight of research and development, Kiyoshi Fujiwara, admitted that the rear-end rethink was brought on by sustained criticism that the existing crop of SkyActiv models are too noisy. 
“The (new) torsion beam axle is much better than multi-link suspension in terms of road noise, so we selected that in reducing road noise for customers,” he said “Because we got a lot of complaints from the media.”
It is also understood that the production world-first ‘Air Supply’ compression-ignition petrol engines dubbed SkyActiv-X, that improves performance significantly while reducing fuel consumption by 30 per cent, are also said to be part of the second-gen CX-3 portfolio, possibly in up-spec versions such as the sTouring and Akari grades.
Initially planned for the 2.0-litre engine in the next Mazda3, the diesel-like combustion processes combine spark plugs in parallel with a Rootes supercharger for better-controlled and leaner combustion.
Sticking with six-speed manual or torque-converter automatic gearboxes rather than the more modish continually variable transmission (CVT) offered by many rivals, this SkyActiv-X powertrain is said to work best on 91 RON standard unleaded petrol, with power and torque jumping from 109kW/192Nm to about 140kW/230Nm in the case of the upcoming Mazda3 redesign.
The next-gen CX-3 is earmarked for improvement in areas such as seat comfort and support thanks to Mazda’s all-new seating design, dashboard ergonomics and interior acoustics, further enhancing refinement. A much larger cargo capacity than the existing 264-litre item is also part of the small SUV’s overhaul.
While a massive success in Australia, where it has either led or come second in its small-SUV segment behind the Mitsubishi ASX since launch, the CX-3 has fared poorly in the all-important North American market, where the current version’s diminutive proportions are seen as too small on the outside and too tight inside.
The expanded body and footprint are said to be seen as the only way forward if the series has any chance of growing its sales and market share.
In 2017, Mazda sold fewer CX-3s in the United States than it did in Australia, with just 16,355 out of 17.25 million total vehicle registrations versus 17,490 out of 1.19 million locally.
In contrast, the larger Honda HR-V managed to find nearly 95,000 buyers over the same period in the US, while the Subaru XV hit 110,000 units.
“It’s one of the key growth areas that we really need to address,” one Mazda insider revealed. “That’s what we’re prioritising.”
Watch this space.

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