MAZDA is positioned to take a stranglehold on the Australian sports utility vehicle market with the new CX-3 starting from a razor-sharp $19,990.
Demand is expected to outstrip supply. That will be primed by the popularity of the petrol engines with automatic transmissions and front-wheel drive, which start from $21,990.
Undercutting all competitors in the fledgling sub-compact SUV market, the good-looking compact offering shares its platform with the Mazda2 but is longer, wider and taller than its sibling.
There are four grades, Neo, Maxx, sTouring and Akari, which are available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines.
The petrol donks can be partnered to either a manual or automatic transmission, while the oil-burner is mated exclusively to a self-shifter.
Neos come with 16-inch steel wheels, power windows, 60-40 split-fold rear seats, air-con, cruise control, two centre cup-holders along with bottle holders in the doors, trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, rear parking sensors and safety equipment which incorporates anti-lock brakes and stability control that Mazda expects will gain a five-star rating (it's yet to be tested by ANCAP).
A camera mounted in the rear vision mirror is a $778 option.
Step up into the Maxx and it gains alloys, leather wrapped gear shift knob, handbrake handle and steering wheel, along with the 17.7cm colour touch-screen with the MZD system, sat nav and a reversing camera.
The sTouring specification includes 18-inch alloys, front fog lamps, LED headlights with auto on/off, rain sensing wipers, climate controlled air-con and improved driver display.
Atop of the CX-3 tree sits the Akari, and it gets black leather and suede or white leather with black suede seat trim, power sunroof, and the safety pack which includes blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and brake support systems that is available for $1030 on Neo, Maxx and sTouring.
Boot space is 264 litres, enough for a pair of small suitcases, while with the rear seats folded cargo area is 1174 litres.
Mazda undertook extensive research before producing the CX-3. Hence the sharp pricing, aimed at conquest customers especially for those living in urban areas aged between 25-39.
In Australia, this segment has been a shining light. During this year's record-breaking February sales the compact SUV genre was up 32% on the same time last year.
With more favourable currency for the US dollar and the Euro, Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders expects supply to be tight, with sales of about 1000 units a month.
"We are going to be competing with our friends in the US, Europe and Japan for available production," he said.
"This segment of smaller SUVs continues the downsizing trend as well as the move from passenger cars to SUVs that has been happening in the industry for some time. We do expect growth in this segment as awareness grows amongst new car buyers that you can get into an SUV at a cheaper price."
The Mazda CX-3 comes with a three-year 100,000km warranty. Capped price servicing is available with servicing every 10,000km or annually. Average price for petrol is $293, diesel is $344.
Model: Mazda CX-3.
Details: Five-seat five-door two or all-wheel drive compact sports utility vehicle.
Engines: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 109kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 192Nm @ 2800rpm or 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel 77kW @ 4000rpm and 270Nm @ 1600-2500 rpm.
Transmissions: Six-speed manual (petrol only) or six-speed automatic.
Consumption: Petrol - 6.1-6.7 litres/100km (varies between front/all-wheel drive and transmission). Diesel - 5.1L/100km.
Mazda CX-3 pricing
2.0L Petrol FWD
Neo (m) $19,990
Neo (a) $21,990
Neo Safety (m) $21,020
Neo Safety (a) $23,020
Maxx (m) $22,390
Maxx (a) $24,390
Maxx Safety (m) $23,420
Maxx Safety (a) $25,420
sTouring (m) $26,990
sTouring (a) $28,990
sTouring Safety (m) $28,020
sTouring Safety (a) $30,020
Akari (m) $31,290
Akari (a) $33,290
2.0L Petrol AWD
Maxx (a) $26,390
Maxx Safety (a) $27,420
sTouring (a) $30,990
sTouring Safety (a) $32,020
Akari (a) $35,290
1.5L Diesel FWD
Maxx (a) $26,790
Maxx Safety (a) $27,820
1.5L Diesel AWD
sTouring (a) $33,390
sTouring Safety (a) $34,420
Akari (a) $37,690