North America’s love affair with the SUV shows no signs of fading after a quarter century.
Even the most diminutive of players in this segment have grown bigger over the years, and by doing so they have created a new niche behind them – The Subcompact Crossover.
With several brands having cars in this segment, Mazda has just raised the bar on these “small wagons on steroids” with the introduction of the all-new CX-3. It bares a family resemblance to other Mazdas, and in this iteration of the Kodo design philosophy it manages to straddle aggressive and cute esthetics all at once, no mean feat in a world dominated by safe, generic designs.
The driving dynamics are typical Mazda, and that’s a good thing. The company’s “skyactiv” ethos is all about making driving fun, and the CX-3 is certainly fun to drive with oomph, with a grin-inducing chassis and tactile steering that communicates with the driver almost intuitively. It works hard to wring the maximum amount of joy from its economical 2-litre mill, producing 142 horsepower and a respectable 8-second sprint to 100 km/h.
Let’s face it, though, we regular folks rarely get to drive like auto journalists. Maybe once in a while we drive for the sheer fun of it, and this little fella is certainly up for it. But most of the time driving is a more work-a-day experience, and the CX-3 is equally charming in the real world of mall parking lots and the daily commute.
The interior is more luxurious than its mid 20’s price tag would suggest, with innovative design, good interior materials and a high mounted infotainment screen that makes it easy to keep eyes on the road where they belong. It has all the luxury touches you could reasonably want, supportive seats and excellent ergonomics. Step up to the GT trim level and you can even equip your CX-3 with paddle shifters and 18-inch wheels.
Like all segments in the automotive market place, there are plenty of other subcompact crossover choices. With the introduction of the CX-3 though, Mazda is the team to beat. If you are in the market for a car of this type, you owe it to yourself to take this one out for a spin.