Automotive shoppers across the board are more demanding than ever, and even in the affordable subcompact crossover segment, brands are having to pull out all the stops in order to draw buyers in their direction.
Thankfully for Mazda, the combination of smart design and respectable driving dynamics continues to keep the brand in favor as the pool of competitors continues to grow. Make sure to check out our full review, but here is a quick overview of the pros and cons of this subcompact CUV.
2018 Mazda CX-3 Pros and Cons
A Thoughtful Exterior: There’s a fair bit of ballsy design in this segment to begin with between the Toyota CH-R, Nissan Juke, and others, but unlike its competitors, the new CX-3 maintains a tasteful middle ground. It certainly isn’t understated, as it capitalizes on Mazda’s current design language, but at the same time, it doesn’t suffer from the same “design for the sake of it” complex that plagues its competitors. You know from a cursory glance that it’s a Mazda, and that’s a good thing.
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An Even More Thoughtful Interior: Navigation and infotainment is yet another corner of the autos space where things can either be fantastic or go terribly wrong; thankfully for Mazda, this is a prime example of the former. Using a similar rotary knob controller to BMW/Audi/others, hopping through navigation, audio, and other infotainment functionality in Mazda’s latest-and-greatest is about as painless as it gets. What’s more, the brand has FINALLY entered the modern world with the addition of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for the 2019 model year.
Solid Chassis/Driving Dynamics: Another Mazda strong suit when stacked against its commuter-focused competition, the CX-3 is by no means a track toy, but it does feature relatively firm suspension and feels relatively nimble from behind the wheel. Body roll is kept under control, and though steering is a little numb in the grand scheme of things, it’s still fairly crisp and responsive when you consider its competition.
Smart All-Wheel Drive: Available as an option on the CX-3, Mazda’s all-wheel-drive system is a front-wheel-drive primary setup that will bias torque to the rear wheels on demand. Data from wheel speed sensors, exterior temperature sensor, and even the windshield wipers is used to calculate if, when, and how much the rear wheels should be engaged, and a byproduct of the Mazda G-Vectoring Control means that through electronic aid, its differentials can bias power from left to right to give power to the wheel with the most grip.
The Most Tiny of Subcompacts: Though the point of the subcompact crossover is keeping size to a minimum, one of the CX-3’s biggest weaknesses its lack of capacity compared to its competition. Rearward seats are a bit cramped when compared to the competition, and cargo capacity out back is a bit shy of what’s offered from the competition. If a big little car with all the space is a priority, this one isn’t for you.
The Not So Cushy Commuter: While it wins points for handling, those used to a more supple ride might find the suspension of the CX-3 a little more firm over rough pavement than some of the other standard-fare crossovers out there. That said, suspension tweaks and new wheel/tire combinations for 2019 have taken a bit of the jarring out of the equation at least.
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It’s Definitely Not Quick: Regardless of trim model, whether you’re looking at the base model GX or the top spec GT, you’re still getting a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, delivering a modest 148 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque. Sure, its a two horsepower increase over the previous model year, but a 0-60 time of roughly 9.2 seconds is far from ideal, especially when competitors like the Hyundai Kona offer a 2nd engine option that bumps power output up to 175 hp and 195 lb-ft. That said, if you’re a commuter that’s more focused on fuel economy than performance and driving dynamics, you won’t be too disappointed.
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