According to the Hiroshima based manufacturer, customer feedback was considered in coming up with the updated vehicle, which it describes as “exquisite and edgy.”
The subcompact cross-over is still a relatively fresh segment in the auto industry, and one of its darlings is the Mazda CX-3. The handsome small SUV boasting KODO – Soul of Motion styling hasn’t been on the scene too long but is already on its second iteration for the 2019 model year.
According to the Hiroshima based manufacturer, customer feedback was considered in coming up with the updated vehicle, which it describes as “exquisite and edgy.” Many of the changes reflect Mazda’s recent move towards providing a product that looks and feels increasingly luxurious and premium.
While many of the updates lie underneath the hood and inside the cabin, the grille is revised utilizing an alternate slat design and a deeper frame shape for a more substantial appearance. Chrome accents decorate the corners of the front spoiler and along the side skirts. The foglights and B and C pillars are decorated with glossy piano black trim, and the inside of the tail lamps were reworked to emit a high tech cylindrical light pattern. Even the new multi-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels wear a special metallic finish to complement the other details.
A rethought centre console layout is perhaps the biggest standout in the cabin. An electric parking brake is standard, and eliminating the traditional handbrake really gave designers liberty to experiment. The result is extra space and an innovative console unit that features a tri-partitioned cubby, the forward two square pockets convertible to cup holders by pressing a button. There is also a built-in padded armrest hiding what’s underneath and giving occupants’ elbows a place to relax. Rear passengers needn’t feel left out, as there’s now an integrated centre armrest in the rear bench as well.
The beautiful white leather upholstery in DARPAN’s top-of-the-line GT all-wheel-drive grade was beautiful and soft, the first time such an option is being offered. While the front seats didn’t appear very different, they are actually wider and built with high-density, vibration absorbing urethane foam. During the long stretches of driving I did I was nothing but comfortable. Suede-like materials are used all around the interior, and the HVAC vents have subtle deep red accenting adding a pop of colour.
A SKYACTIV-G 2.0-litre engine remains the primary source of propulsion, however engineers retuned the naturally-aspirated four cylinder to reduce internal friction, improve fuel efficiency, and bump up the torque. Output is upped to 148 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission handles shifting duties and can be manually shifted by nudging the lever over to the left, although I would have liked to see steering wheel mounted paddle shifters instead. The motor can be a little noisy when passing or overtaking – that said, overall everything seems a little quieter than before due to the thicker door panels, rear door glass, headliner and beefier door seams.
Like other models in the lineup, Mazda G-Vectoring Control (GVC) has made its way into the CX-3. The technology smooths out the steering allowing for finer inputs, and factoring in the optimized suspension dampening the handling is really quite nimble for what is essentially a large jacked up hatchback. I had to make numerous quick-decision manoeuvres on extended highway runs during my week-long test and the vehicle darted in and out of traffic effortlessly and safely. The all-wheel drive definitely helped, especially since I drove in both snow and hail conditions, the caveat being a slightly higher-than-expected fuel consumption of 8.3 L/100 km in mixed city and highway driving.
Motor: 2.0-litre four cylinder
Horsepower: 148 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 146 @ 2,800 rpm
Gearbox: Six-speed automatic
Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 8.3 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)