Test Drive: 2016 Mazda CX-3

Mazda CX-3

(Photos: Jack Kazmierski)

Small on size. Big on just about everything else!

There’s no denying small SUVs are all the rage these days. Consumers love the elevated driving position, the cargo capacity, and the fact that they can get AWD ability if they happen to be so inclined.

The latest addition to the Mazda family, the CX-3, is jumping into the compact SUV space with a bang. Although diminutive in size, it’s big on design, style, comfort and that all important, fun-to-drive factor.

First impressions

You can’t help but be impressed with the attention to detail that went into the design of the CX-3. Mazda call it “KODO-Soul of Motion design,” but in plain English it just means this is one good looking vehicle.

Sculpted and muscular, the CX-3 instantly appeals to the eye. Despite the obvious similarities between the CX-3 and its older sibling, the CX-5, the CX-3 has its own individual look and personality.

Inside, Mazda has done an excellent job mixing colours and materials. Although this is a compact SUV, the extra attention to detail and the rich use of tones and textures, gives the CX-3 a more upscale look and feel.

 The company says the CX-3 was designed to appeal to “young and creative users.” It definitely will appeal to younger buyers looking for a refreshing design in a smaller fun-to-drive package. As for the creative end of the equation.. that’s hard to define.

Behind the wheel

 In Canada, theCX-3 is powered exclusively by a SKYACTIV-G 2.0-litre gasoline engine. Peak horsepower is 146 (6,000 rpm), and peak torque is 146 lb. ft. (2,800 rpm). That’s not enough for the drag strip, but it is just fine for day-to-day driving, both city and highway.

 CX-3 buyers will likely be more interested in fuel economy than in power ratings, and they won’t be disappointed. Our test vehicle burned through an average of 8.3 L/100 km – which is excellent for a family hauler with all-wheel-drive abilities. No doubt, this is thanks to Mazda’s SKYACTIV Technology – a holistic approach to reducing fuel consumption.


The CX-3 is available with a broad range of practical technologies. The head-up display is a real treat, and something we rarely see in vehicles in this price range. This is the same technology Mazda initially debuted on the Mazda3, and it works just as well in this compact SUV.

Then there’s the 7-inch colour touchscreen display with Mazda Connect, which – as the name implies – connects the driver with navigation, phone, entertainment, etc. Most features can be dialed in and controlled with an easily-accessible knob located between the driver and the front passenger. The technology is intuitive, easy to use, and very logical.

With consumers hungry for compact SUVs, this would seem to be the ideal time to launch a vehicle in this segment, and then to up the ante with the kind of style, personality, comfort and technology today’s younger buyers are looking for. It’s still too soon to know how well the CX-3 will sell here in Canada, but Mazda certainly has a winning contender in this tight compact SUV race.

Vehicle Specs

Vehicle: 2016 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD

Price as Tested: $32,690

Engine / Transmission (as tested): 2.0L SKYACTIV-G, inline 4-cylinder / 6-speed automatic

Noteworthy Features / Important Selling Features:

  • 7-inch colour touchscreen display with Mazda Connect makes it easy for consumers to navigate through all features and functions
  • Head-up-Display, a rarity in this segment, allows driver to keep eyes on the road
  • Internal styling is a cut above the rest

Fuel Economy (advertised): 8.8 L/100 km (city), 7.3 L/100 km (hwy)

Fuel Economy (as tested): 8.3 L/100 km

Chief Competition (top 3): Honda HR-V, Nissan Juke, Ford Escape

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