A subcompact crossover might seem like something of an automotive oxymoron. How does a crossover more akin to the Civics and Corollas of the world find a place in the typically rugged, aggressive majority of its segment?
The Mazda CX-3 is one of those curious entries from the innovative Japanese marque that breaks down this paradox. Essentially a bulked up version of the supermini Mazda2 hatch, the CX-3 was born into production this year as a small, yet impressively capable, sibling to the CX-5 and CX-9.
It's affordable, sporty, and great in the fuel economy stakes, but can the CX-3 do more, especially compared to competitors like the Fiat 500X Pop, Jeep Renegade Sport or Honda HR-V? We gave it the AxleGeeks treatment and dove deep into the CX-3’s performance data, safety stats, cargo space and other features to find out.
Price and Cost of Ownership
With a $19,960 MSRP the Mazda CX-3 costs about 14 percent less than its competitors. If you want a crossover but are worried about your budget, as its 47 percent cheaper than all 2016 SUVs and crossovers combined.
At 29 mpg city and 35 mpg highway, this subcompact crossover averages an economical 32 mpg combined, thanks in no small part to its efficient engine and low curb weight.
The CX-3 boasts up to 5 mpg more fuel economy on city streets than other compact crossovers. Full to empty, it’ll travel 368 miles per tank in the city and 445 miles on highway trips. Respectively, that’s a 57- and 51-mile advantage over its peers.
Equipped with a naturally aspirated, 2.0-liter inline 4 cylinder engine, the Mazda CX-3 sends power to the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic gearbox. This produces a perfectly even 146 horsepower and 146 ft. lb. of torque in the low end. All-wheel drive suits a number of weather conditions without sacrificing performance.
The CX-3’s sprightly presence on the road compensates for its lesser engine output; at 2,809 pounds, we calculated it at 158 pounds lighter than other compact SUV crossovers. Compared to its bulkier brethren, the Mazda weighs 1,270 pounds less.
The CX-3 offers a 19.2 lbs. per HP weight-to-power ratio, which is average for its class. In comparison to all 2016 SUVs and crossovers, its weight-to-power ratio is nearly three pounds per horsepower more.
Front-Row Seat Space
Like many subcompact coupes, sedans, SUVs and the like, interior space can be lacking, specifically for long-legged passengers in the back seat. The CX-3 manages to impress with its interior headroom and legroom
In the front row, drivers and passengers will find up to 38.4 inches of headspace and 41.7 for their legs — the latter measuring in at a quarter inch more than small SUVs of similar scale and size and a third of an inch more compared to larger crossovers.
Back-Row Seat Space
Passengers of a taller persuasion might find the backseat a bit cramped for extended periods of time. Back-row passengers have only 37.2 inches of headroom and 35 inches of legroom to work with.
With those numbers, this crossover offers 0.8 of an inch less headroom than its competitors and 3.3 inches less legroom than all crossovers on the whole.
Storage space isn’t the forte of any subcompact, so keep in mind that the CX-3’s 12.4 cubic feet of rear cargo space will fit minimal cargo, bags or other items. Fold down the rear seats and that space expands nearly four times to a total of 44.5 cubic feet. At its best, the CX-3’s cargo space is only 6.1 cubic feet less than its small SUV and crossover rivals.
2016 Mazda CX-3 Overview
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the 2016 Mazda CX-3 Sport's price, power, efficiency and cargo space to help interested buyers determine how this car truly stacks up in each category.
Will the Mazda CX-3 become one of the more popular subcompact SUV leaders in the evolving trend of sporty crossovers? As far as accolades go it was a contender for the Motor Trend SUV of the Year, as well as a North American Car of the Year nominee in 2016.