Mazda’s turnaround only looks set to continue with its new CX-3, launching this month into the small crossover segment where sales are booming and variety increasing after Nissan’s Juke invented the market back in 2010.

Mazda may be a bit late – it has rivals galore from the Mini Countryman and Renault Captur to the Peugeot 2008 and lately Fiat 500X – but the CX-3 arrives with a good dose of coupe-like, rather than more upright-SUV, style in the now familiar Mazda ‘Kodo’ design framework, with acclaimed Skyactiv petrol and diesel engines and a decently intuitive infotainment system easily able to handle smartphone connectivity and even a few new internet apps too. Mazda reckons a quarter of its annual predicted 5000 UK sales will go to fleet initially, and rise up to 40% in time.

Inside, space is good upfront with a smart-in-most-places dashboard, although the upper part still feels a bit tinny and plasticky (but if you don’t tap or touch it you’ll hardly notice). Rear legroom is not great behind tall drivers, but headroom is fine, and the rear seats fold flat to boost boot space from 350 to 1260 litres when stuff needs to replace people.

Mazda doesn’t do downsizing, so its Skyactiv petrol engines are still 2.0 litres with 120hp and 150hp power outputs. Offering 137g/km and 47.9mpg or 150g/km and 44.1mpg, they are collectively expected to take 60% of total sales, but Mazda’s best seller to business will likely be the 105hp 1.5 Skyactiv diesel 2WD with six-speed manual gearbox, on account of a far more tax-effective 105g/km of CO2 (19% BIK) and 70.6 official mpg.

Whatever you do, avoid the pricey (£24,695) AWD diesel auto, which saps eco performance considerably, making economy plummet by 16mpg to 54.3mpg and BIK tax soar six bands to 25% with 136g/km.  
Luckily, the 105hp 1.5 Skyactiv diesel 2WD is still a fun and peppy engine with decent refinement, and perhaps partly on account of its extra weight it’s nicely solid on the road in a way the lighter 2WD 120hp petrol sometimes doesn’t feel due to its disquieting amounts of body movement on more undulating roads.

Steering is light rather than firm, but fine once you get used to it. The CX- 3 has great standard kit too, including a seven-inch colour touchscreen and plenty of useful safety such as hill-hold assist. Along with its pleasing design – the key purchasing factor for half of all small crossover buyers – it’s no wonder the CX-3 is predicted by KwikCarcost to beat most rivals on RVs, with 34.7% compared with the Vauxhall Mokka’s 31.6% and the Renault Captur’s 34.2%.

The segment-defining Nissan Juke does better with 36.2%, but still the CX-3 looks like a strong entrant, with fleet costs in check and a strong emotional appeal. It’s likely to succeed.

Mazda CX-3 Skyactiv-D 105 2WD SE-L

Model price range £17,595-£24,695
Residual value 34.7%
Depreciation £13,290
Fuel £4652
Service, maintenance and repair £1865
Vehicle Excise Duty £40
National Insurance £1684
Cost per mile 43.9p
Fuel consumption 70.6mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 105g/km (19%)
BIK 20/40% per month £64/£129
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 350/1260 litres
Engine size/power 1499cc/105hp