When the 2016 Mazda CX-3 debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show last year, journalists became incredibly excited, even twitter-pated? Was this finally the answer to our enthusiast crossover dreams? Slotting in between the delightful Mazda3 hatch and the sporty CX-5, the CX-3 gives us comfort, utility, and just enough Zoom Zoom to be a strong contender in a very crowded market.
The CX-3 offers up a 2.0L SkyActiv 4-cylinder engine, good for 146 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque. Yes, those are small numbers, but Mazda has always been more than a spec sheet. The new iActive all wheel drive system is more predictive than reactive, taking in more inputs than ever to predict what the car will need to do. It even knows if your windshield wipers are on. This means it knows what you want to do almost before you do.
The only transmission available is a 6-speed shiftable automatic with a sport mode. Press the sport lever and you’re treated to high revs that stick around as long as the driver wants, facilitating cornering, passing, and merging.
When not engaged in sport mode the transmission is programmed for fuel economy; 32 mpg on the highway and 27 in the city in the AWD, with the FWD version faring a bit better at 35/29. Shifts are fairly quick and smooth, although once it did clunk into gear from park.
On the road the low horses are noticeable, but it’s still a ton of fun to throw into the corners. The rear suspension now features a torsion bar, which seems a little old school, but the ride is compliant enough for folks that just want to toddle around.
Most road feel comes through the chassis, as the electric power steering does not offer the best feedback. It’s not bad but neither is it great. The weight is fairly light in the parking lot and gets progressively heavier at speed, but folks may miss the tactile feedback.
Visually the car is a stunner. The top of the line GT model offers 18-inch wheels, the largest in its class, and designers succeeded in making this crossover both pretty and sporty. A small greenhouse complements the pushed back A-pillar and the black fenders and horizontal details keep the focus low.
The Mazda CX-3 press kit came with a teasing picture of a 6-speed manual, currently offered overseas, but so far no promises have been made to those of us Yanks who like to row our own.
Prices for the 2016 CX-3 start at $19,960 for the Sport in FWD and go to $28,160 for the GT in AWD with the safety package.
Check out our first drive of the 2016 Mazda CX-3
|Emme is a driver, reviewer, rabble rouser, and Gazelle who can be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and either one of her blogs.|