In a turbulent year for the British motoring industry some manufacturers did well while others suffered.

Brexit has been the main reason for uncertainty among people thinking of buying a house, a car or even a holiday.

One manufacturer who did well was Mazda, who recorded a 1.3 per cent increase in sales while the market as a whole was down by almost seven per cent compared to 2017.

With the launch of the 2019 Mazda MX-5 and the new Mazda6, plus updates to the CX-3, Mazda2 and Mazda CX-5 ranges, the Japanese manufacturer delivered sales improvements in both the retail and fleet sectors.

Mazda’s overall UK sales performance was enhanced by a 2.5 per cent increase in fleet sales and Mazda delivered strong sales performance led by its award-winning CX-3 and CX-5 SUVs.

In a segment of the market awash with new arrivals, the updated Mazda CX-3 benefited from subtle styling updates and an enhanced cabin to deliver a strong 15.2 per cent increase in sales.

As there are more than 100 SUVs out there Mazda’s quality and style stands out like a shining beacon in a market which varies between good and barely average.

Priced from £18,995, the 2018 Mazda CX-3 arrived in UK dealerships last summer ready to take on the big boys and did an excellent job.

The updated CX-3 is offered in a simplified eight model line-up that sees the debut of a new SKYACTIV-D 1.8-litre diesel engine, plus a host of technology and interior improvements.

Visually, the CX-3 is distinguished by a refreshed grille, while the darker side pillar treatment enhances the sweeping coupe-like profile of this sporty small SUV.

Offered in SE Nav+, SE-L Nav+ and Sport Nav+ trim: all cars, with the exception of the entry-level 121ps SE Nav+, feature front LED fog lights and rear privacy glass, while Sport Nav+ cars have 18-inch silver alloy wheels, LED headlights, signature LED rear lights and chrome effect front bumper and side trim garnishes.

The CX-3 is the smaller version of the CX-5 and originally arrived here almost four years ago. It is similar to the CX-5 with bold lines, sleeker headlights and the more prominent grille. And those headlights are probably the best of any vehicles on our roads at the moment. In the current murky light they are well appreciated.

There is bags of quality kit with a a standard fit seven-inch touchscreen with a rotary controller for use on the move, which means there are just air conditioning controls, with no buttons to clutter up the centre stack.

There is the alternative of having a 4WD but I was out with just the 2WD and found the CX-3 of one of the best handling SUVs around.

There is plenty of pace and great gearing There is good legroom and headroom for all but the tallest passengers and the 350-litre boot is just a little small but about average for the class. There is a false floor for hiding smaller items.

The CX-3 is a most comfortable car and the front seats benefit from use of high-damping urethane foam cushions that improve comfort and support, while the rear seats now feature a central armrest with built in cup holders.

Cabin refinement has been improved with upgraded door sill trims, thicker sound isolation in the doors and enhanced rear glazing. In addition, an increase in the cabin headliner thickness absorbs more sound to deliver a hushed cabin.

As before, the bulk of the range is powered by the 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G petrol engine, which is available in 120ps and 150ps power outputs. Now featuring innovations on the Mazda CX-5, the 2018 CX-3’s petrol engines have new edge-cut pistons and high-pressure injectors to ensure ample torque through the rev-range and improve real-world economy.

The diesel with 105g/km emissions will give you up to 70mpg. The petrol models give you about 50 mpg.

Mazda Motors UK Sales Director, Peter Allibon said: “I’m happy with our sales volume in 2018 and it’s clear that our stylish, great to drive and high quality range continues to deliver for both fleet and retail customers.

“It’s also worth noting that our sales increases in 2018 have come in spite of production challenges caused by the severe flooding in Hiroshima that affected our factory production.”

UK Managing Director, Jeremy Thomson said: “The latest model builds on this success with its well-considered updates. It adds a standout distinctive model to the line-up, but across the whole range the 2018 Mazda CX-3 has the style, quality and driving dynamics to remain at the top of this most demanding of segments.”

There are eight versions with the top of the range comes in at £23,000.