2017 Mazda CX-3 Team Review: Fun But Not Fast

For 2017 Mazda has a new vehicle in the fast growing highly competitive compact crossover segment: the 2017 Mazda CX-3. With competition ranging from the Jeep Renegade to the Honda HR-V, Mazda needs to find a niche that satisfies existing customers and draws new ones to the brand.

But niches are difficult to fill in a segment where customers demand an almost uncompromising level of comfort, convenience and efficiency. With Jeep targeting the adventure type and Honda aiming for value and utility, what does Mazda’s baby crossover bring to the table?

Certainly not utility. With a maximum of just 12 cubic feet of capacity, a high loading height and small trunk opening make carrying very large items a hassle if not impossible. Rear seat leg room is also tight, but at 6 foot 1 I found headroom to be adequate. This perhaps is not a surprise given the new CX-3 has more in common with the outgoing Mazda 2 than the larger Mazda 3.

Certainly an argument can be made for segment leadership in features and value. Our model came equipped in top-of-the-line touring trim. Features such as adaptive cruise control, a heads up display and active city braking found its way into our range topper for just $28,510. Interior quality and design is downright impressive as well. A bold mix of leather, alcantara and textured plastics make the cabin feel very upscale. Add to the mix an optional sunroof and tan leather and you might think you were sitting in a CX-9 that costs much more!

And speaking of the CX-9, styling of the CX-3 falls in line with Mazda’s current design language, that is to say, beautiful. Aggressive character lines and a range of eye popping colors exude a sense of sophistication not typically found in the small crossover segment.

Driving the CX-3 exposes the main attraction: the engaging and sporty chassis dynamics. Tight steering and surprisingly dynamic suspension tuning make Mazda’s small crossover drive more like a Miata than an SUV. Bumps are well absorbed without body proposing and it is never jarring. However, the engine has more in common with a Miata than an SUV as well.

Motivated by a 2.0 liter SKYACTIV four cylinder, the CX-3 revs fast but accelerates slow. Developing 146 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque, the only engine option doesn’t have the torque to backup the excellent chassis dynamics. Thankfully, the small four cylinder is mated to a traditional six speed automatic feeding either the front or all four wheels.

Power aside, the Mazda CX3 is a surprisingly engaging frugal crossover that represents good value among ever growing competition.

For more info and insights on the new CX3, check out the video below: