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Bouquets and gripes after hitting road in Mazda CX-3 GT

I’m almost never disappointed in a vehicle produced by Mazda. Yet, as cute and cuddly as the 2019 Mazda CX-3 is this little sub-compact SUV doesn’t quite measure up to my expectations.

I’m almost never disappointed in a vehicle produced by Mazda. Yet, as cute and cuddly as the 2019 Mazda CX-3 is this little sub-compact SUV doesn’t quite measure up to my expectations. 

Let me give you the positives first because the CX-3 is a good vehicle. It looks great, is loaded with all the tech features you want on the inside and technology that makes it safer and more enjoyable to drive. The 2.0 litre, 4 cylinder engine puts out 148 horsepower, which makes the CX-3 exceptionally peppy around town. This is the only engine offered in all three models. Driven in a normal manner it sips gas. I easily achieved 7.4L/100km on the highway. (That’s almost 39 mpg for those of you using the old system). The worst fuel consumption reading on the open road was close to 8.0L/100km. However, gripe number two is a fuel tank too small, making for a short cruising range which, in turn, means more stops to refuel on a very long road trip. 

The interior this year has been “refreshed,” according to Mazda, with a new centre console, cup holders and rear seat centre console. There is sufficient rear seat legroom and ample cargo capacity for two people.

The instrument panel has been cleaned up and most controls and switches are easy to use, but instrumentation is too basic with no temperature gauge and the tachometer is prominent in the instrument panel facing the driver. I’m sure most buyers of a CX-3 really don’t use a tach to watch engine rpm. And to make matters worse, the speedometer is a small digital readout so you squint to read it while trying to maintain legal speeds. OK, Mazda, I know you’re the “Zoom-Zoom” company, but give me a large speedometer and let me monitor engine temperature rather than a warning light that tells me the engine is overheating or has already done so puking coolant on the pavement. So that’s gripe number two. 

My third gripe with the Mazda CX-3 is seating comfort. Perhaps it’s my bony butt that’s the problem, but the seat did not give the support I have so often enjoyed in many other vehicles including Mazda models. This is really aggravating when you’re trying to enjoy a pleasant road trip. If you’re planning to buy a CX-3 take a long test drive and ensure the seating is comfortable for your body.

Also keep this in mind, although built to accommodate five passengers, I don’t recommend the CX-3 for a growing family as this is after all a sub-compact vehicle. Move up to the CX-5, it's far more roomy if you’re going to be transporting two or three small children. 

I found the ride in my test GT more stiff and choppy over irregular road surfaces than I would have expected. Perhaps because Mazda makes a big deal of its “Skyactive-Vehicle Dynamics” and G-Vectoring Control. This tech system works in the background to achieve a smoother, less fatiguing drive, subtly adjusting engine torque, intentionally optimizing vehicle weight transfer during everyday commutes and spirited driving. The result is supposed to be steering that is more precise and a more comfortable ride. Well, that’s great, if only my butt wasn’t hurting in the driver’s seat. 

You have three choices of CX-3 to pick from starting at $23,066 for the front wheel drive GX model. The mid-range GS starts at $25,366 and is also FWD. All-Wheel-Drive is available in these first two models. 

But do your research if considering the CX-3 as there are some features you won’t get in the two lower-tier models. My GT started with a base price of $33,066, was AWD and loaded with goodies. The only option was Ceramic Metallic paint at $200.

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