2016 Mazda CX-3 Preview

FAST FACTS
  • Based on new Mazda 2 platform
  • Equipped with 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine
  • Standard automatic transmission
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Optional MazdaConnect infotainment system
  • Available i-ActiveSense safety technologies

Introduction

There's a new breed of crossover SUV, and the 2016 Mazda CX-3 exemplifies it. Take one subcompact car platform, add an available all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, wrap it in styling that resembles an SUV, and you've got an affordable, entry-level, weather-beating, and practical alternative to what is traditionally an entry-level set of wheels.

Exterior Features

The 2016 Mazda CX-3 wears the automaker's latest design themes and features black-painted rear roof pillars to give the impression that this small crossover SUV's roof is floating with minimal support.

The vehicle on display at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show was painted Soul Red and featured Grand Touring trim, which includes 18-in. aluminum wheels and LED front running lights. Mazda also plans to debut a new Ceramic Metallic paint color for the new CX-3, describing it thusly: "Its expression of a finely honed metallic surface and strong sense of hardness changes in appearance depending on the light hitting it."

Interior Features

Stadium-style seating ensures that all of the Mazda CX-3's occupants will enjoy a good outward view, but with its basis upon a Mazda 2 platform the passenger compartment has no trouble delivering upon the automaker's stated intent to create a "snug and secure" environment.

Optional Features

The 2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring on display in L.A. has all the extras. A set of LED front running lights are evident in front, and the SUV sits on 18-in. aluminum wheels painted gray with machined surfaces. Inside, Parchment-over-Off-Black seats are wrapped in leather and synthetic suede, and the display vehicle has a power sunroof, Active Driving Display head-up display screen, MazdaConnect infotainment system, and a suite of safety features called i-ActiveSense.

A complete breakdown of standard and optional equipment is expected closer to the CX-3's arrival next fall.

Under the Hood

Mazda confirmed that the new CX-3 will use a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine equipped with Skyactiv fuel-saving technology, but did not divulge official horsepower ratings. However, in other Mazda models this engine is rated at 155 horsepower.

A 6-speed automatic transmission delivers the power to the CX-3's front wheels. An AWD system is optional, and features a power takeoff design that decouples the lightweight rear differential from the powertrain when AWD is not necessary, thereby reducing friction and improving fuel economy, Mazda says. Additionally, a front-wheel slip warning detection system is included on CX-3s equipped with AWD.

Safety

Mazda will offer a suite of safety systems for the new 2016 CX-3, all grouped under an "i-ActiveSense" banner, but did not discuss specifics other than to say they employ milliwave radar. The automaker also claims that the CX-3's high-strength body structure "effectively absorbs impact energy from any direction to suppress cabin deformation," and that this new compact crossover is engineered to achieve high crash-test ratings in the various global regions in which it will be sold.

Technology

The latest version of the automaker's MazdaConnect infotainment system will be available for the new CX-3, using a freestanding display screen atop the center stack of controls and what Mazda calls Commander Control buttons surrounding a knob on the center console. Effectively, this design is similar to Audi's Multi-Media Interface (MMI) or BMW's iDrive.

Mazda did not divulge a complete list of MazdaConnect features, other than to confirm Bluetooth with audio streaming capability, text-messaging support, and Internet radio access. In current Mazda products, MazdaConnect offers a robust suite of features and services.