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by Tim Beissmann

New details of the Mazda CX-3 have been revealed roughly six weeks out from its Australian launch.

Mazda today confirmed the CX-3 range will be headlined by a new variant name, dubbed Akari. The line-up will also feature an sTouring grade, and likely others, with the Japanese car maker promising a “class-leading mix of model grades”.

Mazda has also announced official combined cycle fuel consumption ratings for the most frugal petrol and diesel variants.

The front-wheel-drive petrol automatic uses 6.1 litres per 100 kilometres, while the front-drive diesel auto is rated at 4.8L/100km.

To be offered in a host of configurations, the local CX-3 range will include a 109kW/192Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine, a 77kW/270Nm 1.5-litre diesel engine, six-speed manual and automatic transmissions, and front- and all-wheel drive.

Mazda is still to confirm the precise structure of the line-up, such as which engines, transmissions and drive systems will be paired together. More details will be revealed around the time of the CX-3’s launch late next month.

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Pricing also remains somewhat of a mystery, though Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders suggested rumours of a $19,990 plus on-road costs starting price were a little optimistic.

“You might be dreaming there,” Benders told CarAdvice. “It’s probably a bit sharp.”

He also baulked when asked if Mazda would aim to rival the $20,790 starting price of the Ford EcoSport, which is currently the cheapest of the CX-3’s baby SUV competitor set.

“I think they’re the only ones that do have a base model, so whether we have to be quite as competitive as they are… I’d like to think that ours is a little bit better than that car.”

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Asked about Mazda’s sales ambitions for the CX-3, Benders said the company was shooting for the stars.

“Our goal will be to go in there and be a dominant player in that segment, the same as we are in small and light cars,” he said.

“CX-5 is dominant in the medium SUV segment, so I guess that’s a bit of an idea of where we’re heading.”

Benders excludes the Hyundai ix35 from the equation (VFACTS officially includes it in the small SUV segment, but Benders and others believe it should be placed in the medium SUV segment alongside its sister car, the Kia Sportage, and others), leaving the Subaru XV (11,539 sales in 2014) and the Mitsubishi ASX (10,404 sales) the current leaders, and the cars in the CX-3’s crosshairs alongside the just-released Honda HR-V.

“That’s where we’ll be aiming, somewhere in that broad number,” he said.

“We’ll miss a quarter [this year], we’re not going to do it for the year that easily, but we’ll be wanting to hit the ground pretty fast.

“Certainly we’re getting a lot of early interest at the dealer level about that car with a lot of promotion. It seems to be hitting a sweet spot in terms of styling and design.”

CarAdvice reported last month that Mazda’s internal figures show that buyer interest in the new CX-3 is about five times higher than it was for the new Mazda 2 that launched late last year.

Read CarAdvice’s review of a pre-production Mazda CX-3 here.




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