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Mazda builds compact CUV the right way

All three CX-3 trims come with a Skyactiv two-litre 16-valve, four-cylinder engine. The GT comes standard with all-wheel drive while it is an option on the GX and GS.

  • cx-3

THE PROS & CONS

    • What’s Best: The overall feel of the CX-3. You feel safe and comfortable behind the wheel.
    • What’s worst: Interior space. Forget the golf clubs unless you want to fold down the rear seats.
    • What’s interesting: The infotainment controls and the active driving display.

To quote Sheldon from the immensely popular Big Bang Theory, driving the Mazda CX-3 GT for a week was like driving a zippy go-kart.

It was zippy going around corners; zippy on the highway; and zippy when you first touch the gas pedal.

But for everything good the CX-3 has going for it, it lacked room inside to make this crossover a very, very special car.

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The Mazda CX-3 is a CUV that is great to look at.

Mazda builds compact CUV the right way

Take a station wagon, push the sides in, push in the front and back and grab the top and pull it up to about neck height and you have the CUV, perfect for long drives but just don’t take a lot of gear with you.

My tester for the week was the CX-3 GT AWD.

The CX-3 comes in three trims, the GX, GS and GT. While each trim level has its merits, Mazda has made sure all three are safe to drive with anti-lock brakes, front and side airbags, four-wheel disc brakes and my favourite new feature all vehicles should come with, a rear view camera.

All three also feature cruise control, steering wheel mounted cruise, Bluetooth and audio system controls, two USB and auxiliary ports.

My GT came with a $1,500 technology package which includes blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning system, smart city brake support and rear cross traffic alert.

All three CX-3 trims come with a Skyactiv two-litre 16-valve, four-cylinder engine. The GT comes standard with all-wheel drive while it is an option on the GX and GS.

Mazda builds compact CUV the right way

My GT also featured a sport mode which I thought took away from the quiet ride I quickly got used to with the sport mode turned off. You could hear the engine and feel the transmission shift more with the sport mode on but at my age, that no longer interests me.

The CX-3 shines when it is on the road. Quiet, nimble and responsive, the CX-3 is a pleasure to drive. No wonder it received the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada award this year for best new SUV/CUV under $35,000. The AJAC members noted the quiet engine, smooth ride and comfort of the vehicle. I wholeheartedly agree.

A trip to Gananoque for a boat cruise to Boltd Castle in the 1000 Islands, a must trip for anyone who hasn’t seen the castle, proved just how smooth the CX-3 is on the highway.

I will admit the infotainment system took a little longer than usual to get used to. While you can control some of the features by touch on the seven-inch screen, the control knobs are on the centre console at the base of the shifter. After a while the controls became second nature and I even missed them when I returned the vehicle to Mazda.

My GT tester also featured an active driving display which took a little longer to get used to.

Mazda builds compact CUV the right way

Push the start button, and the display automatically rises just beyond the steering wheel. The display gives you your speed and when the lane departure system is on, it informs you when you are veering out of your lane. The display can be adjusted depending on the driver’s height.

I also liked the look of the CX-3 interior. The red leather trim is a nice touch as is the leather-wrapped steering wheel. My sons also commented on the air vents. They liked the look of the circular vents which could be moved in any direction.

As I said, the CX-3 was perfect for my wife and I on the drive to Gananoque.

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A trip to the local golf course and to London, Ont. for a family golf tournament was a different story.

Mazda builds compact CUV the right way

My golf clubs wouldn’t fit in the trunk of the CX-3 and I didn’t even bother trying to fit my three tall sons into the backseat for the trip to London. For that, we took our 2007 Hyundai Sonata which more than fit all three comfortably in the back seat, five sets of golf clubs and luggage for a weekend.

But then the CUV isn’t geared towards large families. For more room you can move up to the CX-5 or CX-9.

The CX-3 is perfect for a younger family who need to throw a few suitcases in the back or groceries and know they are going to have a smooth ride and not break the bank on gas.

Mazda says the CX-3 GT AWD uses 8.8 litres of gas per 100 kilometres in the city and 7.3 on the highway. Those are numbers any young family can live with.

Mazda builds compact CUV the right way

Mazda CX-3 GT AWD 2016

BODY STYLE: Sub-compact CUV

DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, front- or all-wheel-drive with six speed automatic transmission

ENGINE:  2.0-litre DOHC, four-cylinder (146 hp, 146 lb/ft)

FUEL ECONOMY: 8.8/7.3/L/100 km, city/highway

CARGO: (GT) 402 litres behind rear seat, 1,484 litres folded.

TOW RATING: Not recommended

PRICE: $32,690 including $1,500 technology package

WEB SITE: www.mazda.ca

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