Tuesday, March 27, 2018
3 Ways the Mazda CX-3 is a Cut Above the Competition
If there was one word to describe the Mazda CX-3, it would be head-turner. I had the privilege of a one-week experience with the compact beauty and I kid you not — it literally made heads turn, everywhere I took it. Perhaps it was because of the eye-catching Soul Red variant. Or, it could also be because you don’t see much of the CX-3 on the road. And why is that? Keeping that final point in mind, I took to the streets and found out three ways the CX-3 is a cut above the competition.
#1. The easiest thing to drive…and then some.
City driving calls for a car that is responsive, yet feels solid and controlled. The CX-3 offers this kind of driving feel. The steering is light and smooth, perfect for maneuvering in and out of traffic, but it is weighted that I always felt in control. The braking system is also responsive, but not too sensitive that every stop feels abrupt. I felt in tune with the handling of the CX-3. Okay, the ride could be better, but I find that most of the discomfort would be to those in the backseat. The driver or the person riding shotgun ends up fine.
What truly set the CX-3 drive experience apart was how smart the little crossover was. Having the top-of-the-line AWD Activ variant, it has a peppy engine that had considerable power be for stop-and-go traffic or the open highway. Power comes in gradually and this made it feel safe and controlled at all times. i-Stop is gone for 2018 and that does drop the fuel mileage to around 7.5 km/L. However, along with i-ACTIV AWD, it is now equipped with G-Vectoring Control (GVC) which added to its predictable handling.
I don’t know about you, but this could be what Jinba-Ittai means in real life.
#2. Designed for the everyday (compact-sized) driver.
The CX-3 is clearly designed for everyday driving. Putting it out there, the easy maneuvering and compact size makes me more confident on the road, even through tight, challenging streets.
Driving is far less tiring when done in the CX-3 thanks to its well-designed cabin. The seating position is perfect, with the cushions firm but comfortable, and the steering wheel offering adjustment for both reach and height. New for 2018 is the addition of a power seat with 2-setting memory for the driver.
The overall size is another consideration. While the CX-3 has the distinct long hood design that makes every Mazda vehicle look longer than it actually is, it is actually quite small, making it best when squeezing through tight spaces or less generous parking slots.
A slight disappointment though would be found in the roominess of the interior (or the lack of it). While the cabin does look roomy in photos, in reality, it can only accommodate petite-sized individuals. This is especially true for the backseat seat.
#3. It’s in the little things.
The little things count, especially if I found myself concentrating on driving.
The CX-3 features a heads-up display (now full-colored for 2018) that shows the current speed (and if programmed in the Mazda Connect system, speed limits and turn-by-turn navigation). This helps me keep tabs on the speed without having to take my eyes off the road.
Another great feature is the rear camera, particularly how it takes the space required to open the hatch into consideration. One area for improvement though would be to let it show things like wheel angle, and highlight things like road markings and obstructions.
No doubt about it. The Mazda CX-3 is a catch. With its light, flawless steering, comfortable driving position, and unexpected features, it is the perfect car for both the daily commute and long drives on the highway.
While there are no complaints about the signature driving experience that the CX-3 (or any Mazda for that matter) brings, there is much ado with the cabin space—an important element, considering how much seat time an average driver goes through. In this regard, it seems to work more as a car for either single drivers (i.e. no family in tow) or young couples (i.e. no kids in tow); and with limits in size and structure.
Given that, how I drove it over time and setting the problem of packaging aside, consider me sold. Sold because it ticked off all the boxes in what an everyday car should have. Above all, the CX-3 invoked an emotional affinity that ultimately won me over.
Words and Photos by Gen Tiu.