Mazda’s relatively low-compression, big-boosting 1.5-litre turbodiesel engine gives the CX-3 some predictable mechanical character traits – and some less predictable ones. The motor starts and stops without much clatter or shake, but you wouldn’t call it quiet at idle or at low revs.
Under load at higher speeds, there is perhaps some advantage for the car on mechanical refinement – but it’s a marginal gain.
Throttle response is, as you might expect, a bit softer than the modern turbodiesel norm.
Long gearing exacerbates the problem, but even so it’s a condition that only really affects the CX-3 when trying to pull low revs in the higher gears – and then only for a second or so.
When it’s knuckling down, the car performs strongly. A 0-60mph time of 10.3sec is creditable and gives the car a lead of about a second on most of the class.
The powerplant is nicely flexible, too, making the CX-3 more than half a second faster from 30-70mph in fourth gear than the Peugeot 2008 e-HDi 115 we tested in 2013. Although the Mazda’s peak power is made at 4000rpm, the engine is willing to rev beyond 5000rpm on the tacho and doesn’t get too breathless when asked to do it.