By: Mike Ginsca,
With gas prices constantly going up, consumers are always on the look for an efficient vehicle. But what if you need space for a small family to carry things? That’s why the popularity of crossovers has exploded in the last few years. They offer car-like fuel efficiency but with SUV-like practicality.
Engine – Up front, the only engine available with the CUV is a 2.0L naturally aspirated inline-4 with Skyactiv technology. The engine produces 148hp and 146 lb-ft of torque which won’t boggle the mind with fast acceleration, but that peak torque figure is reached at just 2800 rpms which is almost unheard of for a naturally aspirated engine. The high torque figure at low rpms gives the CX-3 a peppy attitude when accelerating from a stop as there is no hesitation from the engine when you put your foot down on the accelerator pedal. Another plus to not having a turbocharger is pretty good fuel economy. In my week long test, I managed approximately 8.3L/100km on a mostly city run which is pretty good considering this GT model only comes with AWD and not FWD like the base GX trim I tested last year.
Transmission – The Mazda CX-3 GT is only available with a 6-speed Skyactiv automatic transmission that is just like all other Mazda automatic transmissions, quick and smooth. A manual is available but only in the lower GX trim. The automatic transmission also comes with a sport button which is situated next to the shifter and it improves throttle response and holds each gear for a longer period in between shifts.
Handling – The Mazda CX-3 manages to be both sporty and still maintain a level of comfort. Body roll is minimal through corners and steering feel is closer to that of the Mazda3 rather than a conventional crossover which is usually vague. Plus the added feature of all-wheel-drive is a confidence booster when you want to use the CX-3 off the beaten path and without fear of getting stuck. New for this year is standard G-Vectoring control. It’s a system that temporarily limits the engine’s torque output when entering a corner to shift the body weight to the front wheels for better traction. Then throughout the rest of the corner, the computer recovers engine drive torque to shift the weight to the back wheels thereby improving stability. Long story short, you don’t really feel it when driving but the Mazda CX-3 is one of the better handling small crossovers out on the market today.
Ride Comfort – Driving over bumps in the CX-3 feels like you’re in a normal SUV with only really large potholes making the ride a bit jarring. Driving on a highway, the CX-3 is quiet and due to its small size, it feels very stable at speeds well into triple digit numbers. Adding to the comfort are the excellent front seats. Not only do they provide good bolstering when you’re pretending to be a racing driver, but they also provide good support when you’re stuck in rush hour traffic. Unfortunately the same can’t be said of the back seats. Leg and head room in the back is tight to say the least. An adult will struggle to even get in the back seats and while there is a recess in the roof for more headroom, it is still not enough. The back seats are there for small children or to be folded to allow for more cargo room.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Among the mainstream auto manufacturers, Mazda is among the best when it comes to interior quality. Over rough roads, nothing squeaks or makes an annoying sound that makes you want to pull your eyes out. The cabin is relatively quiet but quite a bit of engine noise does intrude into the cabin when revving hard.
Interior Design – This GT trimmed model comes with leather and Luxe Suede seating surfaces as well as door trim. There is also soft contrasting leather on the center console and knee padding and aluminum trim to cover the rest of the cabin.A touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard is the predominant feature of the cabin. Like other Mazda models, the touchscreen does not fold away into the dashboard for a cleaner look when not in use. The only annoying feature of the CX-3 interior is the lack of a center armrest.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – In addition to standard features such as a backup camera and a push button start, the 2018 CX-3 also receives Smart City Brake Support which automatically applies the brakes if the vehicle thinks you’re about to have a crash. This GT trim is also equipped with a navigation system, LED headlights, Bose premium audio, power moonroof, blind spot sensors, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic climate control to name only a small handful of features that are standard on the GT trim. Sadly no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for the 2018 model year but a little birdy told me that the 2019 model will get those features.
Exterior Design – Overall the CX-3 looks like high riding Mazda 3 Sport. The current CX-3 has Mazda’s older design style but it won’t be long until Mazda gives the CX-3 a mid-cycle refresh to make it look more like the CX-5 and CX-9.
For a vehicle with a starting price of just over $20,000 CAD and going up to just over $30,000 CAD, the Mazda CX-3 is a crossover that was designed to entice young adults who want a daily commuter vehicle but to also have enough room to store snowboards when the weekend comes around. This is by no means a vehicle for a large family but for a couple thinking of starting one and still want to have some fun, the Mazda CX-3 fits that category perfectly.
Thank you to Mazda Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Mazda.ca
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.