The SUV segment is proving to be the most popular with Kiwi new vehicle buyers, so it’s no surprise we’ve picked a winner from this category.
The segment — made up not only of compact crossovers but tough offroaders — will account for 34 per cent of new vehicle sales in New Zealand for 2015.
Kiwis love the practicality, functionality and higher driving position of SUVs and you’re likely to see them in urban environments rather than in rural settings.
One of the SUVs that made the most impact on our judges this year was Mazda’s CX-3 compact crossover — and it wins our coveted title of Driven Car of the Year.
The CX-3 went on sale here in April and moved into the tough segment against the likes of Nissan’s Juke, Suzuki’s S-Cross, Ford’s EcoSport, the Holden Trax and VW’s Tiguan. But from the start, the CX-3 lead the pack thanks not only to its sophisticated design, but its amazing array of standard features and dynamic safety details.
Mazda NZ launched six variants in the CX-3 line-up with two engines from the company’s SkyActiv lineup: a 2-litre petrol (producing 109kW of power and 192Nm of torque) and 1.5-litre (77kW/270Nm) diesel.
Across the CX-3 range are reversing cameras (a big tick for Mazda NZ), front, side and curtain airbags, plus ABS and traction control.
The GSX model had the addition of rear cross-traffic alert (which produces an audible warning if something or someone moves behind the vehicle as you reverse) plus blind spot monitoring.
The Limited also gained such i-Activesense safety technology as lane departure warning, and smart city brake (it stops the car in low-speed driving automatically).
Those safety features are usually found in European models costing three times the price. And it’s a factor Kiwis buyers have appreciated with many Driven readers pointing out the high standard of specifications in the CX-3. The CX-3 also wins for its looks, with Mazda sharing the now-famous Kodo (“soul in motion”) design, seen in the Mazda2, 3, 6 and CX-5.
The designers told Driven at the launch of the CX-3 that the compact crossover had a “bespoke look, not shared with any other product in the Mazda line-up and took inspiration from a sports coupe: large wheels, long nose and narrow cabin windows”.