The updated Mazda CX-3 has gained a flagship GT Sport trim which adds further appeal to this handsome compact SUV.

The GT Sport version has been given a sportier look and leather interior, along with plenty of extra kit.

Limited to 500 cars, this 120ps two-wheel-drive edition brings an extra element of fun to a crossover that was already good-to-drive irrespective of spec and trim.

Behind the wheel, the handling is excellent, with quick and responsive steering blending nicely with the car’s grippy qualities.

The vehicle’s road-hugging ability has been further boosted by the introduction of a so-called G-Vectoring Control system, which subtly helps turn-in by optimising engine torque sent to the wheels, based on the steering and acceleration of the driver.

The 2.0-litre engine is sprightly, but perhaps lacks the kind of power delivery found in turbocharged rivals, performing the sprint to 62mph in a still-respectable nine seconds. When driving with urgency, the engine needs a bit of gentle persuasion and is clearly at its most responsive in the higher rev range.

However, the more relaxed performance from the naturally-aspirated unit ensures that fuel economy is very satisfactory, coming in at an official combined figure of 47.9mpg and not feeling too far off that in real-world motoring.

Meanwhile, the six-speed manual gearbox is slick and smooth, with a relatively short throw.

In terms of looks, the elegant body of the normal CX-3 has been topped up with a sports styling kit featuring front, side and rear skirts with silver accents and a black rear roof spoiler. Some 18-inch alloy wheels have also been thrown into the mix.

Its flowing lines and the slightly more aggressive profile mean it’s a vehicle in which you’d be proud to be seen.

Inside, the cabin features has a luxurious and premium feel. Nappa leather seats with suede inserts provide great comfort, while there’s no shortage of room for the front occupants but adults may find it a bit tight in the back.

The boot is a respectable size but not as large as a number of rivals in the same class.

Mazda has evidently paid great attention to detail when it comes to the driving instruments, with a strong feeling that the controls have been shaped around the driver. The ease of operation is further helped by the position of the colour head-up display, which allows you to concentrate on the road ahead. Extra comfort for the winter months is provided by heated seats and a heated steering wheel. The GT Sport trim is based on the top-spec Sport Nav version, which means it comes with Mazda’s high-quality infotainment system, consisting of a 7.0in colour screen controlled by touch or rotary dial.

The menu shortcut buttons are located between the front seats.

There’s a generous level of standard equipment, which includes sat-nav, cruise control, climate control and safety features such as autonomous emergency braking.

Some extra sound deadening work has been carried out by Mazda for this latest update, which reduces the roar from the road and wind noise significantly.

However, once you get up to motorway speeds, road noise becomes very noticeable, which doesn’t aid the feeling of relaxation. Suspension is a little on the firm side when compared to rivals but never entirely uncomfortable.

That said, the bigger 18in alloys on the GT Sport model mean the ride is harsher than standard models with 16in alloys.

This model will appeal to buyers looking for a style-focused small SUV, but might come up short for those who crave out-and-out performance. But its sharp looks, strong driving dynamics and classy interior make it worth consideration.


Mazda CX-3 2.0 SKYACTIV-G 120PS GT Sport

PRICE: £22,895 on the road

ENGINE: 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol

TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds and top speed of 119mph

ECONOMY/CO2: 47.9mpg/137g/km