The smallest iteration of Mazda’s SKYACTIV-generation lineup might just be one of its mightiest, as the 2017 CX-3 returns for its second model year a proven companion for whatever the road may throw its way – from urban sprawl to the wilds of winter or the Great Outdoors.
CX-3 boasts a very strong resumé after just one year on the market, from its Northwest Automotive Press Association 2016 overall class win at Mudfest, handling the beaten path with ease while toppling tough competition, to its finalist status as a 2016 World Car Design of the Year candidate alongside the eventual winner, Mazda’s own MX-5 miata roadster.
Debuting at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, CX-3 was developed to “Create the standard for the next era.” It’s a vehicle designed to meet the needs of a new generation of car buyers, supporting creative, adventurous lifestyles.
CX-3 is shorter and lower than Mazda’s best-selling CX-5 but delivers a similarly upmarket experience with its available predictive i-ACTIV all-wheel drive, a punchy 146-horsepower, 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G engine and Mazda’s full suite of i-ACTIVSENSE safety features available, including lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, Smart Brake Support, rear camera, Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) and Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC).
CX-3 is tailored to deliver a rich, inviting experience not just for its driver, but also for its passengers, with rear seats set slightly inboard to ease conversation between front and rear passengers. It is a vehicle with interior details that look and feel as elegant as they are forward-thinking, from the dark red seat stitching to the soft touch materials. And it is a vehicle that carries itself with style, with a long hood, short overhangs, large wheels and a slim cabin, presenting proportions that lend themselves to a sense of strength and vitality, conveying a sense of motion even when standing still.
Changes at a Glance
For 2017, CX-3 continues its succesful formula. Entry CX-3 Sport trim level remains unchanged. The mid-level CX-3 Touring adopts 18-inch wheels, trickling down from the Grand Touring trim level.
And as for the CX-3 Grand Touring? It’s more of the same subcompact crossover that’s won over fans, owners and media worldwide. Only now, its i-ACTIVSENSE package of safety features costs less–$750 less, to be exact. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price for features like Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Smart Brake Support and lane-departure warning, among other options, comes in at $1,170.
Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too?
Attention to Detail Sets CX-3 Apart
In the quickly growing subcompact crossover segment, CX-3 stands alone with its attention to detail, purposeled ergonomics and amenities. Standard inside all CX-3s is a push-button start and MAZDA CONNECTTM infotainment offering Bluetooth phone pairing, audio streaming, USB ports for entertainment connectivity and Commander control knob, as well as a standard seveninch color touchscreen interface with a built-in backup monitor – all means of keeping connected in a quickpaced environment. MAZDA CONNECTTM also features SMS text message audio delivery and reply, voice command and Aha/ S t i t c h e r/ P a n d o r a / H D Radio connectivity. Other available features include:
- BOSE® seven-speaker audio system
- Active Driving Display
- Blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert
- Heated exterior mirrors
- One-, two- or three-tone premium cloth, leatherette
or leather interior seating surfaces
The driver-oriented cockpit comes adorned with thoughtful touches, such as available stitching on the gauge hood, premium textures and rich, soft-touch materials, red accenting throughout the interior and handles and switches that evoke a feeling of tailored craftsmanship. CX-3 feels distinctly “Mazda,” from its materials to its layout that puts the driver and passenger comfort and control above all else.
Yet, it charts new territory with an intimate environment designed to feel timeless and personalized, catering to those who sweat the details and crave not just a mode of transportation but an experience and expression of their personalities—a philosophy called “Mazda Premium.” Curb appeal aplenty CX-3 exudes a sense of confidence and maturity with bold looks and beautiful proportions. Upfront, a pronounced grille borders in a signature wing. This element lends a sense of flow to the body and looks as though it were formed from a single piece of metal, and the body’s overall proportions are not fettered by conventional classifications of vehicle type.
Attention to Detail Sets CX-3 Apart – Continued
Achieving CX-3’s design involved an uncompromising approach to refining the proportions that form the foundation of its beauty and painstaking efforts to eliminate every unnecessary element.
For the interior, a concerted effort to achieve the appropriate ambience and fine textures of the materials lends itself to a high-quality, sophisticated feel.
The front view of the CX-3 is designed to present a bold look that suits the model’s sporty proportions. The grille stacks seven fins with available silver-painted front edges to create an expression of concentrated energy that flows horizontally. The signature wing grille surround is stout and three-dimensional, as if machined from solid metal. It forms the starting point for a powerful sense of speed that flows across the entire body.
- The headlamp layout positions the turn signals outside the main headlamp unit to create a narrow, sharp design that as if they were eyes gazing forward. The tips of the signature-wing extend into the headlamps with an integrated available LED illumination line. This connects seamlessly with the lighting signature that surrounds the low beams, accentuating CX-3’s taut lines.
- With the peak of the front fenders pushed rearward to lie beneath the base of the A-pillars, the side view of CX-3 conveys a sense of extended body size. Careful attention was devoted to creating the rich expression and subtle changes in each of the body surfaces. The front half of the body features a long nose with a flowing shape; the cabin section presents a sleek look achieved by blacking out the D-pillars; and the solid mass at the rear of the body conveys a look of strength and power.
- The license plate is located in the upper part of the rear bumper to realize a short overhang design that gives the rear a clean look and sense of solidity.
- CX-3 is available in Ceramic Metallic, a paint color that was introduced on the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata. Its expression of a finely honed metallic surface and strong sense of hardness changes in appearance depending on the angle and intensity of light hitting it.
The color joins Soul Red with show-car-levels of paint quality. Mazda had to develop an entirely new paint process to apply these industry-unique colors, and they further make the CX-3 stand apart from its more pedestrian competition.
The interior offers a high-quality and sophisticated feel that complements the exterior design. Attention was paid to every detail, including the cohesiveness of designs and quality of materials.
- The surrounding character line and relatively high beltline, along with the deeply sculpted threedimensional form of the door trim, create a comforting atmosphere for front-seat passengers.
- All information displays and control systems are positioned in toward the driver based on Mazda’s “Head-Up Cockpit” concept.
- The soft material that covers the hood over top of the gauges features a stitch-like finish on its front edge on Grand Touring models.
- Each part has been refined to provide the interior with a polished, high-quality feel. Examples includes the available dark red accent color used on the door trim armrests and floor console kneepads and the sharp form of the inner door handle bezels, which look as if they were sculpted from solid metal.
- Fine piping has been added where the different coordinated seat materials meet, such as the Parchment leather and Lux Suede® offering in Grand Touring trim, producing a sophisticated environment.
Dimensions, Comfort and Ease of Entry/Exit
With dimensions of 168.3 in. overall length, 69.6 in. width and 60.7 in. height (when equipped with the shark fin antenna and 16-inch wheels; 60.9 inches with 18-inch wheels and shark fin antenna), CX-3’s size makes it easy to handle, even when driving in town or parking. Its long 101.2-in. wheelbase establishes flowing proportions while securing adequate space for comfortable seating.
- The front seats provide excellent shoulder room, distance between the two front seats and legroom to comfortably seat occupants of any size.
- The seating position of the rear seats is set closer to the center of the cabin than the front seats, and the hip-point is set taller than on the front seats. The resulting layout makes it easier for rear seat occupants to see out of the front and to enjoy conversation with people sitting in the front seats.
- The hip-point for the CX-3 is optimally set for both front and rear seats. It combines with the meticulously executed side sill garnish structure and shape of the lower part of the rear doors to achieve excellent ease of cabin entry and exit.
- The CX-3 provides a wide field of vision. At the same time, mounting the outer mirrors on the body panel of the doors widens the field of vision between the front window and mirror. To maximize visibility to the rear, the height of the rear part of the beltline and position of the C-pillars are carefully designed and quarter windows adopted.
- Positioning the front wheels forward and optimizing the shape of the pedals and the distance between them provides a comfortable driving position that enables the driver to sit comfortably, extend his or her legs and reach the pedals more naturally. A floorhinged accelerator pedal is used because the arc it travels as the driver presses down on it is more natural feeling than that of a top-hinged pedal.
- The seatbacks and cushions are designed for a comfortable ride while still fitting all shapes and sizes of drivers.
Confidence-Inspiring i-ACTIV All-wheel-drive
All-wheel-drive systems aren’t created equally. Casein-point is Mazda’s novel i-ACTIV all-wheel drive, which literally climbs mountains above the competition—or wades through bogs. The assurance of i-ACTIV all-wheel drive comes through its sensors, which take into account factors like steering angle, throttle inputs and wheel-spin along with temperature and use of wipers to paint a clear picture of the outside conditions. i-ACTIV all-wheel drive can adjust power output more than 200 times per second, using 27 different variables, to “predict” what the road conditions look like.
The benefit is rather than the driver or passengers feeling slip before the rear wheels deliver power, i-ACTIV all-wheel drive seamlessly drives all four wheels, adjusting quicker than humans can detect any loss in traction. i-ACTIV allwheel drive’s benefits can also be felt on dry roads with driving dynamics that are far better than a crossover SUV has any right to be—a nod to Mazda’s unwavering commitment to making vehicles that thrill and delight.
Using i-ACTIV all-wheel drive, CX-3 upset a number of competition that are better-known for their off-road prowess at the Northwest Automotive Press Association’s 2016 Mudfest competition, winning its class. With beauty and brawn, CX-3 is a tough combination to beat.
Human-Machine Interface (HMI) and Connectivity System
CX-3’s dashboard layout is based on the “Head-Up Cockpit” concept, which aims to help drivers process large amounts of information while maintaining the correct driving position and concentrating on driving safely.
MAZDA CONNECTTM is an in-car infotainment system that makes it safer and easier to take advantage of functions such as music streaming and communications on the move. It provides convenience by enabling hands-free phone operation and internet radio including Aha by HARMAN via Bluetooth® connectivity, Pandora and Stitcher.
Information the driver requires and the devices for controlling its display are optimally positioned with safety in mind. This includes the Active Driving Display, seven-inch center display and commander control that come as part of MAZDA CONNECTTM.
Packaging and Pricing
Human-centric packaging aimed at true ease of use. In addition to applying the latest iteration of the KODO design language, CX-3 development also focused on providing space for everyday use and practicality. It provides drivers with the clear view they need, is easy to enter and exit with a seating position that lends a reassuring sense of confidence when driving. MSRP starts from just $19,960.
All trim levels – Sport, Touring and Grand Touring – come with a standard SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter engine, paired exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain offering produces 146 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque. EPAestimated fuel is certified at a class-leading 29 mpg city / 34 mpg hwy / 31 mpg combined (27 / 32 / 29 with i-ACTIV AWD). CX-3 Sport models come equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, power mirrors, cloth seats, a seven-inch MAZDA CONNECTTM touchscreen infotainment system with voice commands, Bluetooth® phone connectivity for phone and audio streaming, a USB input, keyless entry, push-button start, power door locks, a six-speaker audio system and air conditioning, among a long list of other features.
CX-3 Touring upgrades with the aforementioned 18-inch alloy wheels, heated exterior door mirrors with integrated turn signal lamps, leatherette and cloth seating surfaces, heated front seats, leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, fold-down center armrest with built-in phone holder, Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA).
The Touring Premium Package further upgrades CX-3 with a BOSE® seven-speaker audio system, power moonroof, satellite radio, HD radio and a cargo cover.
The top-level CX-3 Grand Touring includes all of those features and adds leather and Lux SuedeTM seats, LED headlights with Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), LED fog lights, navigation, automatic climate control, paddle shifters and Active Driving Display head-up unit that helps keep a driver’s eyes focused on the road.
The i-ACTIVSENSE package includes Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC), automatic Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) and Smart Brake Support (SBS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), High Beam Control (HBC), automatic on/off headlights and rain-sensing wipers.
Chassis and Body
The CX-3 features Mazda’s unique SKYACTIV-CHASSIS, which is lightweight and relies on application of high-tensilestrength steel in selected locations to deliver refinement befitting a considerably more expensive vehicle. Engineers fine-tuned every related component to optimize natural response, ease of control and reassuring confidence, along with a sharp, progressive steering feel.
The CX-3 also adopts Mazda’s SKYACTIV-BODY, which achieves high levels of performance in three areas: collision safety, weight reduction and rigidity. It combines effective positioning of high-tensile steel and optimized cross section shapes to produce a body that features high rigidity, which translates to excellent road feel.
The chassis employs a lightweight torsion-beam rear suspension system that features highly efficient packaging. The EPAS steering system allows light and agile handling in the city and in parking lots but feels stable on winding country roads and the highway, with a light weight, progressing to a firmly weighted, precise feel.
- The brake system enables excellent control of vehicle speed at low- to mid-speeds and offers excellent braking performance under high-speed and high G-force conditions.
- The usage ratio of high-tensile steel throughout the vehicle body and parts is 63 percent. The usage ratio of ultra-high-tensile steel (780MPa or higher) is 29 percent and four percent of the total is rated 1,180 MPa.
Smallest Member of CX Family, Big Shoes to Fill
Mazda CX-3 joined the compact CX-5 and midsize CX-9 in Mazda’s crossover lineup as an entryway to Mazda’s award-winning vehicles. It stands as part of the family, yet it also stands alone as a sporting vehicle that carries a unique, downsized adaptation of KODO — Soul of Motion design and premium features.
CX-3 doesn’t follow trends; it sets them. For the 2017 model year, it will continue more of the formula that has already won it praise the world over.