2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring Test Drive

?2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring FWD?
An All-New Subcompact Crossover SUV

Mazda CX-3 LSF
Mazda has just launched a vehicle that represents an all-new dimension in the crossover SUV marketplace. It is bigger than both the Mazda2 and the Mazda3, but is smaller than the Mazda CX-5. It is the all-new 2016 Mazda CX-3. An ideally sized crossover, the CX-3 is also taller than the Mazda3, but with reduced overhangs.

The Mazda CX-3 comes in three levels of trim: the entry-level base model CX-3 Sport; next, what is expected to be the core model, the mid-range CX-3 Touring; and the top-of-the-line Mazda CX-3 GT or Grand Touring. All feature the SKYACTIV technologies found on the Mazda CX-5, Mazda6 and Mazda3 which share a similar platform, but the CX-3 is significantly smaller, while still delivering Mazda?s ?Zoom, Zoom? driving dynamic and showcasing their KODO ?Soul of Motion? design philosophy. There are ten variations available, ranging from the CX-3 Sport FWD that starts at $19,960, to the CX-3 GT AWD with the iACTIVSENSE Package and a beginning price tag of $28,160. All models incur an $880 Destination and Handling fee.

In addition to the trim lines, there are two option packages: Package #1 ? the Touring Premium Package priced at $1,410 with: a Bose audio 7-speaker sound system; a Power Moonroof with one-touch open; Sirius XM satellite radio; HD Radio; and a tonneau cover. Package #2 ? the GT i-ACTIVSENSE Package for $1,920 with: Mazda Radar Cruise Control; Smart City Brake Support, Smart Brake Support; High Beam Control System; Lane Departure Warning System; Rain-Sensing Wipers? and Auto On/Off headlights. Mazda Mobile Start is available for all trim levels utilizing a 3G cellular network to communicate between smartphones and the vehicle. The cost for the dealer-installed accessory, which allows four phones to be linked, is $500, with a $65 per year continuation fee.
Power for all Mazda CX-3 variants is provided by a 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G, DOHC, 16-valve, inline four-cylinder engine with gasoline Direct Injection that delivers 146 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, while generating 146 pound feet of torque at 2,800 rpm. The engine is coupled to a SKYACTIV-Drive 6-speed automatic with electronic lockup torque converter, manual shift mode and Sport mode, that gears motive energy to the front wheels or to all four wheels via Mazda?s predictive i-ACTIV AWD System for an additional $1,250.
Visually, the new CX-3 displays a bold athletic look that emphasizes the model?s stylish proportions. The grille stacks seven fins with available silver-painted front edges that create a horizontally flowing concentrated energy. The signature wing grille surround is three-dimensional and substantial as if it were machined from solid metal. It forms the starting point for a sense of speed and power that flows over the entire body. The headlamp layout places the turn signals outside the main headlamp unit creating a sharp, narrow design appearing as if they were eyes gazing forward. The tips of the grille extend into the headlamps with an integrated available LED illumination line, which connects seamlessly with the lighting signature, surrounding the low beams and accentuating CX-3?s taut lines.
The peak of the front fenders are pushed rearward to lie below the base of the A-pillars. In profile, the CX-3 projects the sense of having an extended body.
The styling focuses on creating the rich expression and subtle changes in each of the body surfaces. The front half of the body features a long nose with a flowing shape; the cabin section presents a sleek look achieved by blacking out the D-pillars; and the solid mass at the rear of the body conveys a look of strength and power.
All CX-3 models also come with MAZDA CONNECT?, a seven-inch, full-color touchscreen infotainment suite that is integrated with a commander control knob and Bluetooth hands-free phone pairing and audio streaming. MAZDA CONNECT? helps drivers and passengers safely keep connected, integrating phone controls, radio, internet radio services like Pandora and Aha by Harmon, and available navigation into a single system. All 2016 CX-3s also have backup camera and push-button starter as well as power windows, power door locks and remote keyless entry.
During the national press launch, I was afforded the opportunity to put both a FWD and AWD Mazda CX-3, each in Grand Touring trim through their paces in various driving scenarios. The FWD version wore an exterior coat of Dynamic Blue Pearl, with the interior done in Parchment and Black. The base sticker read $24,990. While the final price came to $29,700 after factoring in the i-ACTIVSENSE Package, Mazda Mobile Start and Destination and Handling. The AWD example CX-3 with a Crystal White Pearl Mica exterior came to $27,620. Both model CX-3s came with an impressive inventory of standard features and equipment.

SUMMARY: The 2016 Mazda CX-3 will be just the right size CUV for many consumers and will serve ideally from traversing ctiy scapes to more adventurous landscape sojourns. The seating hits the sweet spot in a variety of ways ? by providing a clear view of surroundings, by mitigating the feeling of speed (a good thing for some, for others, not so much), by eliminating the distraction of the lights of oncoming vehicles and ease of entry and exit.
The exterior design of the CX-3 is exceptionally attractive and appealing with pure and refined proportions, while the interior serves up simplified, yet dynamic and comfortable surroundings with a modern feel while delivering old world craftsmanship.

In terms of its performance, the all-new Mazda CX-3 with its 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G 146 horsepower, four-cylinder engine delivers a claimed world?s highest gasoline engine compression ratio of 13:0:1. Would turbocharging enhance the performance? You bet it would, but not without sacrificing some fuel economy. The SKYACTIV Drive 6-speed automatic shifts smoothly in automatic mode, but is more pleasing in Sport mode, using the paddle shifters.

The handling characteristics are crisp and sporty, with a positive on-center feel and flat, stable ride during challenging and spirited maneuvers.

Functionality and versatility are increased by the hatchback configuration and foldable rear seats.
Bottom line, the Mazda CX-3 is poised to compete favorably with the other new kids on the block: the Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X and Honda HR-V. The CX-3 is without question a most desirable CUV with all the right things going for it ? good looks, satisfactory performance, comfort, versatility, affordability and economical operation. Perhaps best of all, the CX-3 is a Mazda through and through, with lots of ?Zoom, Zoom? DNA.
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?[wptabtitle] SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring FWD [/wptabtitle]
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Base Price: $24,990.
Price as Tested: $29,700.
Engine Type and Size: 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G, DOHC, 16-valve, inline four-cylinder engine.
Horsepower (bhp): 146 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 146 @ 2,800 rpm
Transmission: SKYACTIV Drive 6-speed automatic with electronic lockup torque converter manual shift mode and Sport mode.
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / FWD or active torque-split i-ACTIV AWD.
Suspension: Front – Independent MacPherson strut with twin-tube shock absorbers.
Rear ? Torsion beam with Twin-tube shock absorbers.

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS, EBD, BA, DSC and TCS.
Tires: Yokohama P215/60 R16 94H all-season mounted on steel wheels with full cover. Optional aluminum alloy wheels or P215/50 R18 92V ? 5 ?V?-spoke alloy wheels with machine face and painted inners.
Wheelbase: 101.2 inches
Length Overall: 168.3 inches
Width: 68.1 inches ? excluding wheel arch moldings
Height: 60.7 inches ? without roof rails.
Curb Weight: 2,809 lbs ? FWD / 2,952 lbs AWD
Fuel Capacity: 12.7 gallons ? FWD / 11.9 gallons AWD
EPA Mileage Estimates: 29 mpg city / 35 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: Not listed
0 – 60 mph: Not tested

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Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.

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