Since I was going to test drive Mazda’s latest offering for a week, the subcompact SUV/crossover 2016 CX-3, I may as well get as much driving time as possible. And what better way to do that than to trek up to Ottawa for a truly patriotic Canada Day and rack up over 1,700 km’s in the process. Go big or go home, as “they” say.
I suppose “they” have a point here. Perhaps it should be “Go from Mississauga to Barrie to Ottawa to Mississauga”
There’s also a bit of irony, perhaps, that going “big” line is used for small vehicle. Go small or go home sounds silly though.
Mazda’s newest offering is making a huge splash in a large, competitive pond and expect the ripples to be long standing.
As the younger brother to the handsome and popular CX-5, the CX-3 inherits its own good looks via Mazda’s KODO – Soul of Motion design. Fluid lines, a strong stance and a beautiful front end give the CX-3 its physical identity while the 18” gunmetal alloy wheels on the GT adds an exclamation mark.
Inside, the dashboard follows the recent Mazda design of having one large dial flanked by two information screens for gas, RPM’s, fuel economy, etc.
The centre console is consistent with the Mazda Connect infotainment system where the 7” touchscreen can also be navigated via their HMI controller, located behind the gearshift for easy access.
The heated seats are comfortable and are a combination of leather and Lux Suede for a touch of class.
As is commonplace for top of the line trims, Mazda’s three-spoke steering wheel gives cruise control, audio and Bluetooth controls.
Noticeably absent was an armrest for my right arm. I had to improvise and put a water bottle in the cup holder to elevate my arm. I suppose I’ve been spoiled by my 2010 Mazda 3 GT.
Additionally, I found the belt line to be a bit too high even with the seat positioned as high as possible.
There’s still a great line of forward sight with the CX-3, perhaps it’s my short upper body that wishes the belt line was an inch lower.
Safety-wise, the i-Activesense system includes blind spot monitoring, adaptive front lighting (headlights that bend up to 15 degrees), lane departure system, rear cross traffic alerts, radar cruise control and others.
The cargo space isn’t huge but then again, consider the class of vehicle it is. There’s still room for what most city-folks will need to carry and there’s space for a couple of small suitcases.
The back seat isn’t all that roomy but if you have friends with short legs, they’ll appreciate it.
Again, let’s consider the class and size of the vehicle.
We’ve covered the impressive interior and exterior, let’s get to the important part – what the CX-3 is like in motion. My Canada Day-week long road trip to Ottawa was an ideal venue to experience metropolis based driving (Mississauga, Barrie, Ottawa) as well as beautiful and scenic back roads. Opening up the CX-3 on Peterson road/Elephant Lake road (just beneath Algonquin Park) illustrated just how agile and peppy this car is. Steering feel was strong, straightaways were delightful and cornering was a breeze. For me, keeping it in standard mode provided the best response, even ahead of Sport mode. It’s not quite a knock, rather, a preference. While it’s a highly unlikely change, I’d like to have had a manual transmission to heighten the driving experience. Mind you, the automatic transmission does wonderfully in getting you to and from. If Mazda didn’t make such great manual transmissions, I probably wouldn’t wish for one in the CX-3.
Simply put, you’ll probably love driving this car, even more so if you can stretch its legs in a rural setting.
Navigating city streets, parking lots, small driveways, etc., was easy thanks to theCX-3’s small frame and responsiveness and the 7-speaker Bose system will keep your ears happy along the way.
To keep you going, all three CX-3 trims (GX, GS, GT) come with a 2.0L SkyActiv 4-cylinder motor producing 146 horsepower and a matching 146 lb.-ft. of torque via a 6-speed automatic transmission.
My GT tester came with all-wheel drive, which will come in handy for consumers in winter months.
During my week, I averaged 7.5L/100km which was mostly highway driving…75% to guesstimate.
The all-wheel drive version holds 45 litres of gas while the front-wheel drive holds 48 litres. So it’s a small tank for a small car that gives you good mileage, which is what drivers in this segment expect.
Perhaps my fuel economy would’ve been improved had I not been carrying two overnight bags, a small cooler and a host of other items for a week away from home the entire time.
Pricing for the base GX is $20,695, GS is $24,195 and the top of the line GT is $28,995. If I were to pick one up, I’d definitely go with the GT as I’m one of those guys that likes as much as possible in my car since I spend a great deal of time driving.
As there’s an ever growing trend towards smaller vehicles with strong fuel efficiency along with good looks and functionality, the 2016 Mazda CX-3 is a great fit for the North American market. It’s priced right, has lots of available technology, well designed, attractive and fun to drive.
Looks like Mazda has gone “big” by going “small”.