Mazda’s venture into the SUV market began in the early 1990s with the Ford Explorer -based Navajo, but it wasn’t until 2006 that the Japanese automaker made its first step towards a full crossover lineup. Both the midsize CX-7 and the full-size CX-9 were launched that year. While the CX-7 was discontinued in 2012 mainly due to poor sales, the three-row CX-9 received an extensive update for 2013, gaining a KODO design makeover. At the same time, the range was joined by the CX-5 compact crossover, Mazda’s first vehicle to feature the “Soul of Motion” styling language. As we venture into the 2015 model year, Mazda continues to expand its crossover offerings by adding a smaller vehicle to its two-model lineup. Dubbed CX-3, the brand-new rig slots below the CX-5 and marks Mazda’s entry into the subcompact crossover market.
Mazda officially pulled the covers off the all-new CX-3 at the 2014 LA Auto Show. Its compact size and detailed exterior design continues the KODO Soul of Motion styling language. A similarly flowing cockpit embraces all five passengers with stadium seating, a large greenhouse, and thoughtful ergonomics.
A Skyactiv 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is the CX-3’s sole source of power and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel-drive comes standard and all-wheel-drive is optional. Mazda also includes a host of active and passive safety features to keep the compact crossover’s bodywork wrinkle-free.
Updated 07/16/2015: Mazda announced prices for the 2016 CX-3 which will be put on sale in mid-August. Prices will start from $19,960 for the entry-level CX-3 Sport with front-wheel drive.
Angular and swoopy would be two good words to describe the CX-3’s look. The KODO design melds many different character lines into one seamless design. The CX-3 looks determined and attentive with its sharp headlights, open grille, hunkered stance, wide footprint, and sloping roofline. From the front wheels back, it looks somewhat like Lexus’ funky NX crossover.
A rising skirt line grows from the front wheels upward, culminating in a blacked-out trim piece that covers the rear bumper’s bottom. Twin exhaust pipes peak from under the bodywork, reminding onlookers of the crossover’s sporty flair.
A falling beltline runs from the hood downward, passing through the side mirror and ending in the rear fender. A sculpted rear hatch holds a smallish piece of glass and a large spoiler.
The hunkered look is one we really go for. The CX-3 looks far more appealing than just about any crossover currently on the market. Leave it to Mazda to knock the competition out of the park on looks alone.
The CX-3’s interior borrows several design themes from the all-new MX-5 Miata. The split dash features a tablet-like infotainment screen with the HVAC system utilizing round air vents, except for the odd rectangular one on the passenger side center console. Three pods make up the driver’s gauge cluster, with the main round pod hosting a large tachometer and smallish digital speed readout.
The six-speed automatic gets a manual shifter gate focused on the driver’s side. The hand brake is also driver-centric. Just to the right of the hand brake lies Mazda’s rotary infotainment controller knob. Added now is a palm rest for added comfort.
Three large knobs take care of the HVAC system, so there’s no searching through on-screen menus for fan and temperature settings. A multi-function steering wheel is loaded with Bluetooth, radio, and cruise control switches.
Mazda aides rear seat visibility by creating a stadium seating-like arrangement with the second row slightly higher than the first. The second-row seats are also placed further inboard than the front seats, easing line-of sight for conversations between the two rows.
Powering the CX-3 is a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder. Mazda hasn’t released official horsepower or torque ratings for the engine, but we can likely assume things will stay the same as with the Mazda 3. In that application, the 2.0-liter produces 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque.
A six-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting is the only gearbox of choice. Buyers do get to choose between front- or all-wheel-drive. The AWD system utilizes what Mazda calls Active Torque Control coupling and a front wheel slip warning detection system to keep all four wheels turning when road conditions are less than ideal.
To have a piece of the compact crossover market here in the United States, the Mazda CX-3 has to go against the Nissan Juke. The Japanese crossover just got its mid-cycle refresh for the 2015 model year, meaning it arrives in dealerships with revised headlamps, boomerang-style taillights and reshaped bumpers, among other features. Interior updates are rather minor, but the Juke is now able to fold its rear seats completely flat and boasts a restyled cargo area with increased capacity.
Engine-wise, the 2015 Juke keeps its turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-banger with 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. However, due to certain revisions, the engine emits less CO2 compared to the previous model. The 2015 Nissan Juke is expected to start from about $20,000.
Gallery Nissan Juke
The HR-V is also a brand-new product that comes with the same ambitions as the CX-3. Already available in Japan as the Vezel, the HR-V is underpinned by the same platform as the Honda Fit and share some of its styling cues with the larger CR-V. Details are slim as of this writing, but Honda promises a spacious and practical interior with a “unique center tank layout” and the Magic Seat system. The latter allows for multiple seating configurations and a second row that can be folded completely for extra cargo space.
As for powertrain, the HR-V is likely to get the same 1.5-liter four-cylinder found in the Fit, but a bigger engine could be offered as well. The four-banger delivers 130 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque through either a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT. Not exactly enticing when compared to what the Juke has at its disposal.
Gallery Honda HR-V
Mazda’s newest crossover and first foray into the compact crossover segment appears to be a solid competitor. It’s tasteful yet sporty design makes it live up to the automaker’s motto while its Skyativ powertrain will likely crank out best-in-class fuel economy numbers. The availability of AWD means the CX-3 will likely be a hit in northern states while the FWD version will do better on the EPA cycle.
With the compact crossover segment blowing up these days, Mazda seems to have entered at just the right time. We look forward to getting behind the wheel. When we do, you’ll see it here.
- Clean, smart exterior design
- Minimalistic interior design
- AWD and a Skyactiv powerplant
- Will likely only have 155 horsepower
- No manual transmission option
- No word on pricing and EPA ratings yet
November 17, 2014 – Mazda CX-3 Caught Testing Ford The First Time
UPDATE 11/19/2014: The new Mazda CX-3 made its world debut at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show and we can now offer you full details on this compact SUV. Details after the jump.
Mazda officially confirmed that the all-new CX-3 will be unveiled at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. A first design sketch of the compact SUV was also unveiled.
Gallery Mazda CX-3
Mazda debuts the 2016 Mazda CX-3 at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. The new compact crossover SUV is the fifth model in Mazda’s line-up of new-generation vehicles that feature the full range of SKYACTIV Technology and KODO—Soul of Motion design. The CX-3 offers all the essentials people look for in a vehicle; a design of overwhelming quality and style, packaging developed solely with the customer’s ease-of-use in mind, and the responsive driving feel that Mazda strives for in every model.
In pursuing a design of beauty and sophistication, the essence of KODO—the expression of life within a vehicle—has been evolved to produce a sharper form with an enhanced sense of speed. In the interior, meticulous attention to detail regarding the materials used has created a cabin environment of impressive sophistication and quality. In terms of driving performance, the CX-3 adopts the full suite of SKYACTIV technologies, carefully crafted to match human sensibilities. This realizes driving pleasure with faithful response as well as excellent environmental and safety performance.
The powertrain for North America is the SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter gasoline engine, which along with Mazda’s new-generation AWD system delivers powerful and linear driving performance and outstanding environmental performance. To enhance the customer’s driving pleasure, the model also offers a wide range of Mazda’s latest technologies, including the Mazda Connect infotainment system and i-ACTIVSENSE advanced safety features.
With Mazda’s latest design and technology, the Mazda CX-3 is a vehicle to suit the customer’s creative lifestyle in any scene, from inner-city driving to enjoying the great outdoors. The model will go on sale globally, starting from Japan in spring 2015 and is expected to become a new core model in Mazda’s line-up.
Pursuing sophisticated beauty with the latest iteration of KODO
The CX-3 design pursues beauty and sophistication, while expressing Mazda’s KODO design language in the most stylish fashion. Its powerful and highly vital form creates a pure expression of the vehicle Mazda’s designers themselves wanted, one that is not fettered by conventional classifications of vehicle type. The design team worked to create a straight expression of beauty and radical styling for the exterior. Achieving this involved an uncompromising approach to refining the proportions that form the foundation of its beauty and painstaking efforts to eliminate every unnecessary element. For the interior as well, a concerted effort to achieve the appropriate expression to the ambience and fine textures of the materials used realizes a high-quality, sophisticated cabin environment.
The front view of the CX-3 is designed to present a bold look that suits the model’s stylish proportions. The front grille stacks seven fins with silver-painted front edges to create an expression of concentrated energy that flows horizontally. The signature wing is stout and three-dimensional, as if machined from solid metal. It forms the starting point for a powerful sense of speed that flows across the entire body.
The headlamp layout positions the turn signals outside the main headlamp unit to create a narrow, sharp design suggesting eyes gazing forward. The tips of the signature wing extend into the headlamps with an integrated LED illumination line. This connects seamlessly with the lighting signature that surrounds the low beams, accentuating the model’s taut expression.
With the peak of the front fenders pushed rearward to lie beneath the base of the A-pillars, the side view of CX-3 conveys a sense of extended body size, far greater than the vehicle’s actual dimensions. Careful attention was devoted to creating the rich expression and subtle changes in each of the body surfaces for the following three sections. 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.
The license plate is located in the upper part of the rear bumper to realize a short overhang design that gives the rear a clean look and powerful sense of solidity.
The CX-3 introduces a newly developed Ceramic Metallic body color. Its expression of a finely honed metallic surface and strong sense of hardness changes in appearance depending on the light hitting it.
The CX-3 adopts large diameter tires that lend an appealing sense of a powerful drive and positive stance. Optional 18-inch aluminum wheels feature thick, sculpted spokes painted gunmetal gray and contrasted with the brilliant sheen of machined metal.
The interior gives a high-quality and sophisticated feel coordinated with the exterior design. Keen attention was paid to every detail, including the cohesiveness of the spatial designs and the quality of materials used.
The surrounding character line and relatively high beltline, along with the deeply sculpted three-dimensional form of the door trim, create a comforting sense of snugness and openness for the front seat space.
All information displays and control systems are positioned in accordance with a driver-oriented design based on Mazda’s Heads-up Cockpit concept.
The soft material that covers the meter hood features a stitch-like finish on its front edge, producing an atmosphere of maturity.
Each individual part has been refined to provide the interior with a polished, high-quality feel. Examples includes the dark red accent color used on the door trim armrests and floor console kneepads, and the sharp form of the inner door handle bezels which look as if they were sculpted from solid metal.
Fine piping carefully added where the different coordinated seat materials meet, such as the Parchment leather and off-black Lux Suede offering, produces a sophisticated environment.
Human-centric packaging aimed at true ease of use
In addition to applying the latest iteration of the KODO design language to realize stylish proportions, CX-3 development also secured an adequate amount of space. The aim was to achieve a package that properly represents Mazda’s vision of what a vehicle should be. As a result, the CX-3 offers ease of use that is unique to its crossover SUV packaging. It provides drivers with the clear view they need, is easy to enter and exit, and realizes a seating position with a low center of gravity that lends a reassuring sense of confidence when driving. It also adopts the advanced Mazda Connect connectivity system, which supports the customer’s active lifestyle.
Dimensions, comfort and ease of entry/exit
With dimensions of 168.3 in. overall length, 69.5 in. width and 61 in. height (when equipped with the shark fin antenna and unladen), the body size makes the CX-3 easy to handle, even when driving in town or parking. The long nose has a 35.8 in. front overhang (measured from center of wheel), the solid-looking rear overhang is 31.3 in., and the wheelbase is 101.2 in. This establishes flowing proportions while securing adequate space for comfortable seating.
The front seats provide excellent shoulder room, distance between the two front seats, and legroom to comfortably seat occupants of any size.
The seating position of the rear seats is set closer to the center of the cabin than the front seats, and the hip-point is set taller than on the front seats. The resulting layout makes it easier for rear seat occupants to see out of the front and also to enjoy conversation with people sitting diagonally opposite in the front seats.
The hip-point for the CX-3 is optimally set for both front and rear seats. It combines with the meticulously executed side sill garnish structure and shape of the lower part of the rear doors to achieve excellent ease of cabin entry and exit for people of any size.
An optimal driving position allows the driver to enjoy driving while appreciating a clear view, and to drive with a feeling of confidence.
The CX-3 provides a wide field of vision out the front. At the same time, mounting the outer mirrors on the body panel of the doors widens the field of vision between the front window and mirror. To maximize visibility to the rear, the height of the rear part of the beltline and position of the C-pillars are carefully designed and quarter windows adopted.
Positioning the front wheels forward and optimizing the shape of the pedals and the distance between them realizes an optimal driving position that enables the driver to sit comfortably, extend their legs and reach the pedals more naturally. A hinged organ-type accelerator pedal is used.
Great effort went into achieving optimum positioning of each control device. Meticulous adjustment of the shift knob’s positioning on top of the floor console allows the driver to transfer their hand smoothly between it and the steering wheel, and to operate it smoothly and easily without applying excessive force. The commander control features a palmrest that promotes operating stability.
An optimized structure for the seatbacks and seat cushions, as well as for the shape and firmness of the seats, combines with vibration-absorbing urethane foam material employed by the seat cushions and seatbacks to achieve a comfortable ride with an excellent fit and hold. The extended seatback length of the rear seats makes the seats feel roomier.
Human-Machine Interface (HMI) and connectivity system
Mazda’s new-generation HMI pursues safety as its top priority. The cockpit design is based on the Heads-up Cockpit concept, which aims to help drivers process large amounts of information while maintaining the correct driving position and concentrating on driving safely.
Information the driver requires and the devices for controlling its display are optimally positioned for safety. This includes the Active Driving Display, seven-inch center display and commander control.
Mazda Connect is an in-car infotainment system that makes it safer and easier to take advantage of functions such as internet connectivity and communications, even when on the move. It provides great convenience by providing services that require Bluetooth connectivity, such as hands-free phone operation, reception of short text messages, and internet radio including Aha by HARMAN.
Dynamic performance that provides unrestricted driving enjoyment
Mazda is in constant pursuit of driving pleasure and faithful response to the driver’s will. Having the vehicle respond exactly as expected to the driver’s actions connects directly to the pleasure of the Jinba-Ittai driving experience and cannot be achieved merely with power and speed. Based on this philosophy, the CX-3 development team focused on delivering ease of handling on city streets, reassuring confidence on the highway, and particularly on faithful response when negotiating gently curving rural roads. By fully adopting SKYACTIV Technology and tuning all the characteristics to match human senses, Mazda produced light, linear response to the driver’s actions along with the handling stability that the Jinba-Ittai experience requires. The powertrain offering for North America is Mazda’s SKYACTIV-G 2.0. Also introduced is a new-generation AWD system. Powerful dynamic performance with linear response and excellent environmental performance provides unrestricted driving enjoyment.
Chassis and body
The CX-3 adopts the SKYACTIV-CHASSIS, which delivers reassuring confidence and greatly enhanced levels of comfort thanks to thoroughly revised suspension and steering functions. Fine-tuning of every related component realizes natural response, ease of control and reassuring confidence, even when driving on the highway.
The chassis employs a lightweight torsion beam rear suspension system that features highly efficient packaging and dampers in the front and rear that optimize friction characteristics to deliver linear handling characteristics and ride comfort with a feeling of high quality.
The steering system allows light and agile handling in the city, but feels stable on winding country roads and the highway.
The brake system enables excellent control of vehicle speed at low- to mid-speeds and offers excellent braking performance under high-speed and high G force conditions.
The CX-3 also adopts Mazda’s SKYACTIV-BODY, which achieves high levels of performance in three seemingly contradictory areas: collision safety, weight reduction, and rigidity. Realizing an even simpler layout of Mazda’s SKYACTIV-BODY architecture, it combines effective positioning of high-tensile steel and optimized cross section shapes to produce a lightweight body that features high rigidity and a sense of positive damping characteristics.
The usage ratio of high-tensile steel throughout the vehicle body and parts is 63 percent. The usage ratio of ultra-high-tensile steel (780MPa or higher) is 29 percent and four percent of the total is rated 1,180 MPa.
NVH and Aerodynamic Performance
Excellent quietness is achieved through controlling suspension resonance, tuning the shape and hardness of the engine mounts and adjusting their position, and optimally positioning sound insulating and absorbing materials.
For the AWD model, additional measures were taken to reduce noise and vibrations and suppress their transmission through the vehicle body. These include reinforcements added to the crossmember that connects the rear frame and optimization of the shape of the beading used on the spare tire pan.
Simulations using advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics allow aerodynamic parts to be place in the most strategic locations for optimal efficiency. This helps to achieve excellent aerodynamics that contribute to both driving performance and improved fuel economy.
For North America, the CX-3 will use the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 gasoline engine which delivers linear, powerful driving performance and excellent real-world fuel economy.
The CX-3 features an automatic transmission as standard equipment on all trim levels. The SKYACTIV-DRIVE six-speed automatic transmission achieves excellent fuel economy, a direct feel similar to that of a manual transmission, and smooth and powerful acceleration.
The new-generation AWD system employing an active torque control coupling first used on the Mazda CX-5 is available to achieve excellent drivability and vehicle stability. It employs a world’s first* front wheel slip warning detection system, which employs sensor signals to accurately monitor the driver’s intentions and constantly changing driving conditions. In addition, the CX-3 uses a newly developed power take-off and rear differential that is compact and light in weight.
*As of October 2014, according to in-house data.
World-class safety underpins the pleasure of driving the CX-3
Based on Mazda Proactive Safety, every effort is dedicated to minimizing the risks that can lead to an accident and maximizing the range of conditions in which the driver can drive safely and confidently. Active safety measures to help identify potential risks early on and reduce any chance of damage or injury include the adoption of Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE advanced safety technologies. These enable the driver to enjoy every outing, whether driving on city streets, on the highway, or on winding roads. Passive safety features build on Mazda’s high-strength SKYACTIV-BODY. Dedicated effort went toward providing occupant safety, including the seatbelts and airbag system, and also toward helping protect pedestrians. The result is truly excellent safety performance, and the Mazda CX-3 is fully capable of earning high-level ratings in collision tests around the world.
Adoption of Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE advanced safety technologies, which use sensing devices such as milliwave radar, ensures the driver can enjoy safe driving in any scene, whether driving on city streets, on the highway, or on winding roads.
The CX-3 employs Mazda’s high-strength SKYACTIV-BODY, which effectively absorbs impact energy from any direction to suppress cabin deformation. This delivers collision safety performance capable of earning high-level ratings in tests performed by organizations in different regions.
•A variety of safety equipment and mechanisms are employed to protect occupants in the event of an accident. This includes an SRS airbag system, a front seat structure that firmly supports the occupant’s head, and door armrests designed to absorb impact energy.