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Driving Notes

2016 Mazda CX-3 Compact SUV

The CX-3 offers fun driving dynamics, fluid body style, impressive fuel economy, and a well-appointed interior.

July 28, 2015, by Paul Clinton - Also by this author

Photo by Paul Clinton.
Photo by Paul Clinton.

Mazda may have just obliterated the razor-thin line between compact cars and entry-level crossovers with its impressive CX-3 that should rise to the top of an increasingly competitive category.

Compact-car shoppers may not be able to resist the CX-3's fun driving dynamics, fluid body style, impressive fuel economy, and well-appointed interior. Whether the CX-3 will enter the fleet world remains an open question — the first CX-3s will be sold in the retail channel. However, these entry crossovers with their $20,000-ish price tags certainly offer an enticement, and we've heard some whispers from fleet buyers about this category.

The CX-3's body, which is made up of 63 percent high-tensile steel, offers up plenty of appealing curves, a longer nose, and arrow-like daytime running lights with LEDs.

The CX-3 is loosely based on the Mazda2, but it's leaner and a bit taller. Its dimensions (168.3 inches long) put it on the longer end of the spectrum when matched up with competitive vehicles such as the Honda HR-V (169.1 inches), Jeep Renegade (166.6 inches), and Nissan Juke (162.4 inches).

Mazda has a knack for designing vehicles around drivers, and the CX-3 is no exception. It starts with an ideal seating position that gives your eyes a slightly above center view of the road ahead. Mazda provides more than 6 inches of ground clearance for both the 16-inch and 18-inch wheel models.

Photo by Paul Clinton.
Photo by Paul Clinton.

Mazda hasn't treated the CX-3 as a smaller CX-5 clone, and the vehicle's driving dynamics bear that out. Mazda has simplified the rear components compared with the Mazda3 to provide a rigid, yet lightweight chassis. And the automaker modified the suspension to better adapt to body roll.

I tested the FWD and AWD CX-3 models at a press event in the hills of Malibu in southern California that included sharp camber turns on mountainous roadways. The FWD CX-3 was very capable at handling sharp curves while maintaining stability.

The CX-3 interior doesn't present a stripped-down appearance. All models get the 7-inch touch-screen display, and details such as stitching and painted air-vent bezels raise the vehicle's finishing touches. Interior details are carried over even to the base trim model.

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Author Bio

Amy Winter-Hercher

Senior Editor

Amy is an associate editor for Auto Rental News and Business Fleet.

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Chris Brown

Executive Editor

Chris is the executive editor of Business Fleet Magazine and Auto Rental News. He covers all aspects of the fleet world.

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Chris Wolski

Managing Editor

Chris works on Automotive Fleet, Fleet Financials, Work Truck, and Green Fleet. He edits the Global Fleet Management eNewsletter.

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Mike Antich

Editor and Associate Publisher

Mike has covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and entered the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010.

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Paul Clinton

Senior Web Editor

Paul is the senior web editor for Automotive Fleet, Fleet Financials, Government Fleet, Green Fleet, Vehicle Remarketing, and Work Truck. He has covered police vehicles for Police Magazine.

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Thi Dao

Executive Editor

Thi is the executive editor of Government Fleet magazine. She is interested in maintenance management and alternative fuels.

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