“Oh come on! ANOTHER small crossover? Don’t we already have enough of them roaming our roads?” Ladies and Gentlemen, this is my reaction every time I hear another automaker introducing a new crossover into the already supersaturated American crossover/SUV market.
However, when Mazda announced they would be introducing a new small crossover to slot underneath the Mazda CX-5, the CX-3, I said: “wait, this could be something fun and interesting.”
All Mazda vehicles are built with the “Zoom-Zoom” philosophy, which usually results in fun, dynamic, and engaging automobiles.
After all, this is the company that re-introduced us to the lightweight and nimble MX-5 Miata roadster, and the RX-7, which was powerful enough to challenge the legendary Porsche 911.
So, is the new Mazda CX-3 as fun and exciting as the rest of the models in the company’s lineup?
“This is not a crossover, it is an art piece on wheels,” was my response when I first saw the CX-3 crossover last year. Crossovers are designed for utility, not for beauty. In a segment filled with boring boxes on wheels, the CX-3 is like a shining beacon, attracting those who want something practical in a very stylish package.
The Mazda CX-3 has knockout exterior styling, a lush interior, and an engaging chassis.
Purely based on looks, the CX-3 is a winner. However, I am afraid the crossover does sacrifice a bit of practicality with its rakish roof-line and cargo space behind the second row seats.
The 2016 Mazda CX-3 comes fitted with a 2.0 L naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine with 146 horsepower and 146 lb.ft.torque. Standard transmission is a six-speed automatic (manual transmission is not offered – sorry three-pedal loyalists).
Power is routed to the front wheels as standard or can be sent to all four wheels with an optional $1,250 AWD system.
The Mazda CX-3 is all-new for 2016 and comes in three trim levels: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. All CX-3 trim levels come well equipped with a host of safety and luxury features.
The Mazda CX-3 sport has a starting price of $20,840 and includes the aforementioned 6-speed automatic transmission, Mazda Connect with 7-in touchscreen, push-button start, backup camera, and power windows and locks.
The mid-level Mazda CX-3 Touring ($22,840) adds leatherette and cloth heated front seats, a center armrest, a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, blind-spot monitoring, and heated side mirrors.
Mazda CX-3 Touring owners can opt for the Technology Package ($1,410) which adds sunroof, adaptive headlights, head-up display, Sirius XM satellite radio, and rear cargo cover.
The top-of-the-range Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring ($25,870) adds leather-and-suede two-tone seats, paddle shifters, a 7-speaker Bose audio system, and full LED exterior lighting on top of the Touring’s technology package.
The i-ACTIVSENSE package ($1,920) available for CX-3 Grand Touring owners adds automatic high-beams, lane departure warning, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control.
The Mazda CX-3 compact crossover will go on sale this fall as a 2016 model.
The base price of $20,840 might sound a bit expensive compared to its competitors like the Jeep Renegade and the Honda HR-V.
The 2015 Jeep Renegade Sport has a starting price of $18,990 with the manual transmission. Models equipped with the automatic transmission start at $21,685. The 2015 Honda HR-V starts at $19,995 with a manual gearbox. Models fitted with the automatic begin at $20,795.
To be fair, all these prices are for front-wheel-drive models.
Regardless, I am still impressed with the Mazda CX-3.