2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD – Review and Test Drive

By Paul Riegler on 6 December 2016
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The sub-compact crossover market is a cluttered one, although it follows the same pattern (car platform, rugged looks, SUV-like capacity) as that of its larger brethren. In addition to the new Chevy Trax, there’s the Honda HR-V, the Fiat 500X, and the Nissan Juke, just to name a few. One such crossover, the Mazda CX-3, which began its life in the United States in late 2015 as a 2016 model, stands out in this crowded space.

The good-looking CX-3, which could be mistaken for a CX-5 if you don’t take out a ruler, is a good representative of Mazda’s Kodo design language. Even with its oversized grille, it’s fairly compact and handsome. The grille does grow on you after a while, however.

Inside, the well-designed cabin sports high-quality materials. The knobs and switches are all in the right place and give one the sense of being in a more expensive (read German) automobile. Not much has changed since we looked at the 2016 model, aside from a few minor trim changes and a price drop in the cost of the i-Activsense driver-assistance technology package offered on the Grand Touring Model: it now costs $1,170, a significant reduction from $1,920.

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DRIVING THE 2017 MAZDA

On the highways and streets of the greater New York area, the CX-3 showed great comportment and a willingness to please.   The 2.0-liter four banger develops 146 horses, which brings the CX-3 from a standstill to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 8.1 seconds. Steering is responsive and precise and the sport-tuned suspension provides the Japanese answer to Freude am Fahren.

The head-up display (yes, there’s a HUD) puts vehicle speed and turn-by-turn directions directly in front of the driver and, as my colleague Jonathan Spira happily noted in his review a year ago, the HUD works well with polarized sunglasses. This is due to a system that uses a small screen that rises from the top of the dashboard rather than the prevailing approach of using the windshield to reflect an image positioned horizontally atop the dashboard cowl. In addition, the cockpit controller is easy to use and provides several shortcut buttons for frequently used functions such as audio and navi.

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