August 31st, 2015 at 2:00pm
Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.
Reviewer: Sean McElroy
Type: Subcompact Crossover
Competitors: Honda HR-V, Fiat 500X, Buick Encore, Nissan Juke
Price: Base – $20,840; Grand Touring – $25,870 + options
Made in: Hiroshima, Japan
Drivetrain: 2.0L SKYACTIV-G; 6-speed AT; optional AWD
EPA Ratings: 29 city/35 highway/31 combined (27/32/29 AWD)
Mazda is a hard brand to figure out. It seemingly makes some very good products, but yet it’s barely increasing sales in a market that’s seeing some pretty good growth. Its sales are up just .26% so far this year, while the total market is up 4.7%. But the automaker is looking to change that around as it jumps into the red-hot subcompact crossover segment with the CX-3. And if you pair the way it drives with the way it looks, the CX-3 fits right in with Mazda’s sporty persona.
It’s powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, which can be found in other vehicles in its lineup and is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The suspension package features a MacPherson strut setup in front and torsion-beam out back. So, how does this translate to the road? Well, I think it’s better than any other little CUV out there today. While the CX-3 has a ride quality similar to its competitors on surface streets and the highway, this small crossover really starts to shine when you push it. It’s surprisingly well balanced through tight twisting turns. Push a little too hard and the weight up front does want to carry you wide, but the vehicle gives ample feedback before that happens. This can partly be attributed to a reworked all-wheel-drive system that’s now taking readings from 7 additional sensors, which helps it predict what’s going to happen. And for a little extra fun, switch into sport or manual mode to hold gears a little longer and get the most out of its torquey engine, which starts to kick in around 3,000 RPM.