Mazda CX 3 - Something neat and fun
Introduced in 2016, this crossover has been a victory for Mazda, so much so that is has completely replaced the Mazda 2 in the United States. Packaged neatly in a manner that is fun to drive, it’s easy to see why some consumers flock to it.
The crossover has a very sporty design which is heavily influenced by its bigger brother, the CX 5, especially in the front fascia which bears a striking resemblance. Along the side panels there are curve accents which give it a very aggressive and sporty look. This is complemented by the rear of the vehicle being slightly more elevated than the front, a look which emulates race cars of the past.
Another unique factor is that the side mirrors are located on the door panel instead of the window crease, which helps with all-around visibility. The mirrors are also quite large, allowing the driver to have adequate field of view of whatever is behind.
Size wise, it’s more comparable to the Mazda 2 hatchback than the Mazda 3 compact, which makes the second row seat space a bit tight. Luckily for this two-wheel drive model the transmission tunnel is low.
The manually-adjusted leatherette seats may be more favorable for a medium framed person, however they provide adequate comfort. What really stands out is the design theme of the interior, which has an overall sport feel that tethers on a premium landscape.
There are two circular air vents covered with red accents at each end of the dashboard, which immediately catch the eyes. From there, one will observe the double stitching along the dashboard which runs below the a/c vents. While there is no dual climate control, the option won’t be missed due to the compact size of the vehicle, where the air is circulated very efficiently.
Throughout the cabin there are touches of carbon-fibre inspired materials and chrome-type accents that give the interior a racing vibe. Even though it is built in Japan, it does have influences from European automakers. This is evident with the clean design and minimalistic layout especially as it pertains to the buttons.
The centre console knob which controls the infotainment system operates similarly to BMW’s Idrive, where the knob moves in a circular fashion and can be pressed down to select an option. It is quite intuitive and has a very easy learning curve. In addition, there are three buttons above it for instant access to home, music and navigation.
Many of these features can also be accessed by the steering-mounted controls, where on the right side, the buttons are dedicated to media and vehicle information and the left side for cruise control. This is a feature that will mainly be used on the highways, especially when you want to ensure that you are below the speed limit.
The 2-liter four-cylinder Skyactive engine produces 144 horsepower and is well tuned which adds to the engaging driving dynamics especially on long journeys. While driving, tiptronic can be activated in either sport or normal model however if the RPM is getting very high the vehicle automatically gears up without the driver’s input. This can be a plus or minus depending on what type of driver you are.
When in sport mode, which is activated by a button behind the gear lever, the engine is constantly trying to figure out how to make the vehicle go faster. For this reason there is a buzzing sound whenever this mode is initiated, however after a while the fun factor distracts from it.
The ride is a little on the firm side which I think Mazda can easily address with some minor tweaks of the suspension. Nonetheless, the overall drive is very good as the vehicle was able to manage corners with very little body roll.
The reverse camera protrudes a bit, which allows for a wide field of view and eliminates the obstruction of the C pillar when reversing.
Two wheel drive
Competitor: Honda HRV
Price range: $4.6 to $5 million
What I like:
Engine performs very well even up hill
What I don’t like:
Limited space for rear seat passengers
High truck load lip