Photo by Paul Clinton.

Photo by Paul Clinton.

Mazda may have just obliterated the razor-thin line between compact cars and entry-level crossovers with its impressive CX-3 that should rise to the top of an increasingly competitive category.

Compact-car shoppers may not be able to resist the CX-3's fun driving dynamics, fluid body style, impressive fuel economy, and well-appointed interior. Whether the CX-3 will enter the fleet world remains an open question — the first CX-3s will be sold in the retail channel. However, these entry crossovers with their $20,000-ish price tags certainly offer an enticement, and we've heard some whispers from fleet buyers about this category.

The CX-3's body, which is made up of 63 percent high-tensile steel, offers up plenty of appealing curves, a longer nose, and arrow-like daytime running lights with LEDs.

The CX-3 is loosely based on the Mazda2, but it's leaner and a bit taller. Its dimensions (168.3 inches long) put it on the longer end of the spectrum when matched up with competitive vehicles such as the Honda HR-V (169.1 inches), Jeep Renegade (166.6 inches), and Nissan Juke (162.4 inches).

Mazda has a knack for designing vehicles around drivers, and the CX-3 is no exception. It starts with an ideal seating position that gives your eyes a slightly above center view of the road ahead. Mazda provides more than 6 inches of ground clearance for both the 16-inch and 18-inch wheel models.

Photo by Paul Clinton.

Photo by Paul Clinton.

Mazda hasn't treated the CX-3 as a smaller CX-5 clone, and the vehicle's driving dynamics bear that out. Mazda has simplified the rear components compared with the Mazda3 to provide a rigid, yet lightweight chassis. And the automaker modified the suspension to better adapt to body roll.

I tested the FWD and AWD CX-3 models at a press event in the hills of Malibu in southern California that included sharp camber turns on mountainous roadways. The FWD CX-3 was very capable at handling sharp curves while maintaining stability.

The CX-3 interior doesn't present a stripped-down appearance. All models get the 7-inch touch-screen display, and details such as stitching and painted air-vent bezels raise the vehicle's finishing touches. Interior details are carried over even to the base trim model.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet

About the author
Paul Clinton

Paul Clinton

Former Senior Web Editor

Paul Clinton covered an array of fleet and automotive topics for Automotive Fleet, Government Fleet, Mobile Electronics, Police Magazine, and other Bobit Business Media publications.

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