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Competition for market share in the booming small SUV
category is hotting up. As this segment continues to evolve,
participants will need to bring technology, style and quality along
with a reasonable drive experience to capture a share. Two of the
latest entrants, Honda’s HR-V and Mazda’s CX-3 deliver all this in
spades and are sure to be challenging for market dominance.
The HR-V offers a single engine/transmission drivetrain across the
range and is only offered in front-wheel drive. The 1.8-litre 105kW
engine is a solid performer, however like most Honda engines it
works best when it is higher in the rev range, with peak torque of
172Nm arriving at 4300rpm. If I had a disappointment with the HRV
it was the Continuously Variable Transmisison auto. Good CVTs
use electronics to simulate stepped gearing to mimic a conventional
auto, however at highway speeds with four adult passengers (which
it easily accommodated), at the first sign of an incline the CVT
allowed the engine to rev into its power zone, where it remained
droning away until the accelerator was backed off.
The CX-3 offers the choice of petrol and diesel engines from
the SKYACTIV range coupled with 6-speed auto or manual
transmissions, driving either the front or all-wheels. The 2.0 -litre
petrol engine develops 109kW and 192Nm, while the 1.5 -litre
turbo diesel offers 77kW and a chunky 270Nm. Because the Mazda
comes with 2WD, AWD, manual and auto transmission and a
diesel engine option, there are 24 CX-3 models to choose from.
The CX-3 2.0 -litre auto provides a better driving experience than
the HR-V, but the engine can be a bit thrashy when higher in the
rev range, with road noise also more intrusive than the Honda.
In a country/highway run of about 70 kilometres I averaged an
incredible 3.8L/100km in a 2WD diesel manual, which is well
below the official combined-cycle figure of 4.8L/100km.
Neither the HR-V nor CX-3 petrol versions got near their official
combined figures on the test route.
Inside, the Honda wins the space race. Fitted with the same ‘magic
seats’ combination as the Jazz, the HR-V offers plenty of space for
all occupants, with luggage capacity in the rear clearly in front
of the CX-3. Both offer comfortable front seats, with the rear a
little on the f lat side. In entry spec VTi the Honda looks a more
premium interior, with piano-black trim and a large touchscreen
incorporating audio controls and a three-mode reversing camera.
An electric park brake contributes to the clean lines of the interior.
The CX-3 Neo doesn’t get a touch screen or reversing camera and
looks decidedly cheaper than the Honda, however move from the
entry Neo and the score evens, as the CX-3 Maxx and above gets
Mazda’s MZD connect including 7-inch display and a commander
control system incorporating voice recognition and navigation.
Both vehicles have a 5-star ANCAP crash rating, but it is the
HR-V that offers city brake support standard at entry level. The
CX-3 has city brake support, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot
monitoring, but it’s going to cost you $1030 extra in all but the
top-spec Akari models.
The Akari also gets lane departure warning and high-beam assist as
standard. The top-spec Honda VTi-L + ADAS get forward collision
and lane departure warning systems, as well as high-beam assist.
So what is each going to cost you? The HR-V ranges from $24,990
to $33,990, while the CX-3 starts at a competitive $19,990 and
runs through to $37,690. Direct comparisons across the range are
difficult, because what is standard on the Honda is optional on the
CX-3, so a bit of extra homework will be needed to make sure you
are comparing apples with apples.
AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2015 Journeys 27
LIFE ON THE MOVE
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