The unveiling of Mazda’s newest compact crossover SUV at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show generated considerable buzz, especially considering the glut of competitors in that segment.
To draw attention from available options such as the Jeep Renegade, Kia Soul, Nissan Juke and future entries such as the Fiat 500X and Honda HR-V (Page 24), Mazda’s designers poured every ounce of creativity, technology and safety features at their disposal into the CX-3, which slots below the CX-5 and above the upcoming Mazda2.
If the design of the display model isn’t the apex of Mazda’s Kodo (aka “Soul of Motion”) concept, it must be near the top. Fleet buyers will recognize the design language as matching that of the recently redesigned Mazda3 sedan, but with harder lines, heavier fenders and a high beltline.
The headlights and turn signals flare out like wings from the tall, seven-layer, chrome-accented grille, creating the closest approximation to squinting eyes since the new Jeep Cherokee. Matte-black fenders top available 18-inch wheels, exaggerating the toy-car effect that continues to the chunky back end. The rear pillar is blacked out, as well, creating a floating roofline and completing the look of constant acceleration.
The cabin sports a somewhat minimalist look, with handsome gauges and dials, a long dashboard with a sizeable LCD display and a highline-esque infotainment control knob. The front seats feature a noticeably high hip point and plenty of space for legs and elbows; the rear seats ride even higher but appear hopelessly cramped.
The CX-3 will feature the full suite of Mazda’s Skyactiv technology, which extends from the chassis and suspension through the high-tensile-steel body. Equipped with the larger CX-5’s 2.0-liter four-banger, the new vehicle is expected to boast 155 horsepower (hp) at 150 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque and uphold the OEM’s reputation for delivering smooth rides, plenty of pep and responsive handling in small packages. A four-cylinder diesel will be available in other markets.
Fuel economy numbers are not yet available, but it should provide an improvement over the heavier CX-5’s 29 combined miles per gallon. Mazda has stated that every CX-3 will be equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission; however, a six-speed stick is clearly evident in some press photos.
The Mazda CX-3 will be available in the U.S. this summer as a 2016-MY. MSRPs are expected to start at or below $20,000 and range up to $30,000 for fully loaded models.