We had our first peek at the CX-3 at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, and now that it’s here in numbers, I have to say it’s a noble first effort. It’s packed with customer-pleasing standard features, gets exceptional gas mileage and is easy on the eyes.
My recent tester was the front-driving Grand Touring version dressed up in snappy-looking “Dynamic Blue Mica” exterior paint. Naturally, it has a fairly imposing-looking grille, and the profile view is low-slung and sleek, with a long hood line.
Mazda has all sorts of words to describe its vehicles these days – SKYACTIV Technology, KODO and Soul of Motion design are high on the list. But I think I can boil it down for you by saying that the tested CX-3 was equipped with numerous driving-enhancing, convenience-laden perks and was sculpted inside and out to make a large segment of motorists sigh with contentment.
The biggest surprise for me was stepping into the vehicle and seeing much more interior space than I anticipated when I was looking at the CX-3 from the outside. I call this the TARDIS effect, and fans of the long-running “Doctor Who” television series will know what I’m talking about.
For the rest: Wow, there’s more room in here than I thought.
So, I happily loaded the tested CX-3 up with volunteer passengers and bulky cargo, just to see how much the vehicle could take on. Amazingly, I had not a single verbal complaint from passengers or cargo.
The interior cabin included standard heated front seats, thoughtfully positioned control buttons on the steering wheel and leather surfaces. Safety features ran the gamut, including a blind-spot monitor, and LED headlights gave me a long, comforting look at the road ahead.
One thing I did not understand was placing the center cupholder under the folding armrest. If you have even a small Thermos-brand coffee holder, the arrangement presents a problem.
On the fly, the CX-3 was comfortable, responsive and smooth. The four-cylinder engine rated at 146 horsepower is not a burner, so you have to pick your spots to be aggressive in freeway traffic. And as of now, that’s the only engine available.
The other side of that coin is fuel mileage ratings of 29 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. Those numbers go a long way toward curing horsepower envy.
The starting price on this newcomer is a most-reasonable $24,990, although my ride was dressed up with a tech package that added almost $2,000 to the sticker’s bottom line.
Attention motorists in the market for a compact crossover: You have a new entry to add to your test drive list.