Reviews

2017 Mazda CX-3 Driving Impressions


Swift might not be the most accurate description of CX-3 performance, but Mazda’s smallest crossover is emphatically brisk. Push on the accelerator pedal, and the 146-horsepower engine springs smartly into action.

Mazda has long been known for focusing on the driving experience, and the CX-3 is one more example of that successful formula. In a segment that tends to be somewhat dreary, Mazda’s entrant maintains a sporty personality and abundant road feel, inspiring a welcome level of confidence along with motoring pleasures.

On the highway and during suburban jaunts, the 2.0-liter engine typically purrs quietly. Around town, however, particularly when merging into traffic, growling sounds become noticeable. Pushed hard in Sport mode, the engine responds vigorously, willing to rev toward its 6500-rpm limit. But the sound it makes isn’t so satisfying.

Paddle shifters are standard on the Grand Touring, but unavailable for Sport or Touring editions. The 6-speed automatic on those models may be manually-shifted using a gate on the gearshift lever.

Low curb weight helps produce the CX-3’s peppy nature. With front-drive, it weighs a mere 2,809 pounds. Adding about 143 pounds to total weight, the available all-wheel-drive system doesn’t detract from the CX-3’s ability to maneuver nimbly through quick corners.

In the smallest crossover SUV category, the CX-3 ranks high for fuel-efficiency, comparable to the Chevrolet Trax and Honda HR-V. With front-drive, it’s EPA-rated at 29/34 mpg City/Highway, or 31 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops the estimate to 27/32 mpg City/Highway, or 29 mpg Combined.

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