Bright fu­ture Mazda’s new CX-3 ef­fi­cient, fun and sporty

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - FRONT PAGE -

THERE’S a new crop of pint-sized crossovers chang­ing the shape of the new car mar­ket. Gen­er­ally find­ing roots in sub­com­pact econ­omy cars, these en­try-level cute-utes com­bine the el­e­vated seat­ing po­si­tion and avail­able all­wheel-drive of a cross­over with the ef­fi­ciency and tidy size of a small hatch­back. Pric­ing starts in the $20,000 range and can creep up and past $30K with all the con­ve­nience and tech­nol­ogy op­tions avail­able to­day.

There was a time when ve­hi­cle classes were well-de­fined and the odd seg­ment buster ar­rived on the scene to shake things up a lit­tle. The term cross­over was coined to ad­dress such ve­hi­cles that at once pos­sessed traits of sport-util­ity ve­hi­cles, vans, and wag­ons.

Things have evolved to the point where crossovers are not the ex­cep­tion but the norm. It’s 2016, af­ter all, and try­ing to pi­geon­hole ve­hi­cles into seg­ments to­day is about as chal­leng­ing (and suc­cess­ful) as herd­ing cats.

It seems as if a new en­trant in this ever-evolv­ing and ex­pand­ing ve­hi­cle type ar­rives ev­ery few months. Honda and Mazda are com­pet­ing head-to-head with their new HR-V and CX-3 re­spec­tively. I’ve driven both re­cently and find the CX-3 to be the hands-down win­ner.

And I’m not alone: the CX-3 took top hon­ours in its class at the Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada’s an­nual Car of the Year com­pe­ti­tion in the SUV/CUV un­der $35K class — best­ing the com­pe­ti­tion from Honda, Fiat and Jeep.

Of course, there are other en­tries that fit into this size class or serve to blur the line be­tween the sub­com­pact and com­pact cross­over seg­ments. The

All CX-3 mod­els are pow­ered by a 2.0-litre in­line four-cylin­der en­gine mated to a six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. The four-banger em­ploys Mazda’s Skyactiv tech­nol­ogy with di­rect fuel in­jec­tion and a high com­pres­sion ra­tio more com­monly as­so­ci­ated with diesel en­gines. But it’s not a diesel, nor is it a hy­brid, or even a tur­bocharged gas mill. Still, with­out the aid of these propul­sion ap­proaches, this pow­er­train com­bi­na­tion nets fuel con­sump­tion fig­ures of 8.8 L/100 km in the city and 7.3 on the high­way for all-wheel drive mod­els — nearly iden­ti­cal to those of the less-pow­er­ful and CVT-equipped Honda HR-V and ap­pre­cia­bly more frugal than the brawnier Jeep Rene­gade.

Pric­ing be­gins at $20,695 for the front-drive GX, with a stan­dard kit list that in­cludes push-but­ton start, 16-inch steel wheels with cov­ers, air con­di­tion­ing, Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity, steer­ing wheel mounted cruise and au­dio con­trols, six-speaker au­dio, a seven-inch touch screen (prepped for nav­i­ga­tion ac­ces­sory), rear-view cam­era, tilt and te­le­scop­ing wheel,

PHO­TOS BY DAVID DE­WHURST / MAZDA

Mazda’s new CX-3 is a com­pact cross­over that is easy on the eyes and en­gag­ing to drive.

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