Words: Kevin C. Limjoco
Pictures: Isabel N. Delos Reyes
Mazda has been building truly great looking, great driving, and value-packed products since its full reboot only half a decade ago. Although we tested the magnificent all-new CX-9 and this overachieving CX-3 model simultaneously, you will have to wait a bit longer for the turbocharged tour-de-force review. For now, we test a fully loaded Grand Touring-spec CX-3 with a pure front-wheel-drive, so truly look at this particular model as a raised Mazda2 with even more of the energetic design and character found in that award-winning sub-compact.
Since the new Mazda2 is actually not sold in North America, the all-new CX-3, which builds on its success, is a real standout. It is the second most inexpensive model to buy in the US Mazda lineup, so as a crossover then, the CX-3 decimates its direct competition with good reason. It is a very handsome, full-featured and efficient little wagon that can not only perform its daily commuter duties with aplomb, it can also entertain with surprising agility and athleticism that reminds me of an Audi Q3 which costs significantly more.
Essentially, the differences between the FWD and AWD Grand Touring models are functional. The AWD version has the i-ACTIV AWD® system which makes more sense depending how active your lifestyle is, and if you are looking for a bit more security on wet roads at the cost of adding roughly 145 pounds more weight, it uses slightly larger front 11.6-inch brake discs up from 11.02 inches (to handle the weight gain and active AWD system). To make room for the extra drivetrain components, it uses a smaller fuel tank of 45 liters (11.9 gallons) instead of 48 liters (12.7 gallons) on the FWD which further reduces your range. The FWD has a fuel rating of 29 mpg City /35 mpg Highway while the AWD is rated at 27 mpg City / 32 mpg Highway, which translates to approximately a 640-kilometer (400 mile) range for the FWD and a 550-kilometer (345 mile) range for the AWD. The AWD is also about .3-seconds slower from naught to 100 km/h with 4 km/h less top speed. If these numbers don’t concern you, then the AWD variant would be the better choice for buyers seeking more driver confidence on the road combined with soft-roader ability.
If you want the most equipped variant without diluting the fun driving experience, then the lighter FWD model delivers! Look no further than this Dynamic Blue Mica model which has the very best blend of contrasting colors and materials too. At this point in time, there is no better affordable driving sub-compact crossover in any market. Our US test unit not only had the 236-watt Bose® 7-speaker audio system and full LED lighting, it also came with the GT i-Activsense package (radar cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, more safety measures), moonroof, rear camera and so much more for less than 30-large. Naturally, being the motorhead that I am, I felt that the chassis could have easily accommodated the more potent 2.5-liter engine found in the higher-spec Mazda3 models and others, but alas, that combination may actually take sales away from the CX-5 even if the CX-3 is much smaller and not as compliant with its rear torsion beam suspension. Domestically, the pricing for the full-blown Mazda CX-3 with the AWD is P1,480,000.00 with the outstanding Yojin-3 free maintenance package, so you can have your cake and eat it too!
Specification – 2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring FWD
Engine: Inline-4, 1998 cc, dohc 16V, VVT, Direct Injection, 6-speed AT
Max power: 146 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Max torque: 146 lb ft @ 2800 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 8.2 seconds
Top speed (mph): 198 km/h (124 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 29 mpg City / 35 mpg Highway
Price as tested: US$ 27,260.00.00
C! RATING 9.5/10
+The new crossover segment benchmark, lively, well-packaged, great design inside and out
-Less space than a Mazda 3 hatchback, buzzy engine, could handle a lot more power