It’s not much to write home about, but the updates address the gripes we did have.

With strong competition in a cut-throat market comes a need to remain relevant even if it means taking the effort to make excessively minor improvements. And, that’s exactly what Mazda did with the three-year-old CX-3. Mazda started by doing some minor rework to the 2.0-liter SkyActiv powerplant, marginally improving the horsepower and torque. It then followed up by adding some fresh trim accents outside to go with new LED taillights and a new set of 18-inch wheels. Playing the same trump card inside, Mazda has added new materials, revised the seats, and even changed the center console.

2019 Mazda CX-3: Exterior Enhancements

Three Years In, Mazda Trumps the Subcompact Segment with Small Improvements to the CX-3 Exterior
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Things start outside where a new pair of LED taillights bring some fresh style to the rear, and a new 18-inch wheel design gives the side profile a new look.

The Mazda CX-3 is still considered a toddler on the market, barely taking its first steps against some strong competition like the Honda HR-V and the Nissan Juke, among others. And, that’s exactly why Mazda saw fit to rework the little things and improve on what was already a pretty awesome package. Things start outside where a new pair of LED taillights bring some fresh style to the rear, and a new 18-inch wheel design gives the side profile a new look. Finally, new chrome accents all of the way around, and a revised front grille complete this early revitalization of the exterior.

2019 Mazda CX-3: Interior Enhancements

Three Years In, Mazda Trumps the Subcompact Segment with Small Improvements to the CX-3 Interior
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As it turns out, Mazda was listening when we complained, and it addressed these concerns at their core

The CX-3 that we’ve known since 2016 (2015 if you count the CX-3 Racing Concept) was essentially “good enough” as it was, but we did have some gripes about it. For instance, the seats could have used some refinement. And, because of that old-school parking brake lever, the center console was kind of cluttered, and it really impacted the visual comfort level. Well, as it turns out, Mazda was listening when we complained, and it addressed these concerns at their core. First thing engineers did was rip that old E-brake out of there and replace it with an electronic parking brake. This allowed them to revise the center console, making it wider and adjusting the little things like the cup holders and adding integrated, soft-touch armrests.

There’s even a new storage compartment up front that addresses the concern of having little “extra” space – not a bad move for a vehicle that resides in a segment where storage space comes at a premium. And, since the seats were a little rough around the edges, so to say, Mazda was able to revise them as well, adding in better support, and vibration-absorbing urethane material. Higher trim levels will be offered with full-leather seats, something that wasn’t available before and isn’t exactly common in subcompact SUV segment.

Rear passengers will find themselves happy with the update process as well since Mazda added a new center armrest with integrated cup holders – yet another real concern for those of us who have little ones that ride out back. And, to round off the interior, Mazda took decided to set the base color as grey with white or black leather on the seats to offset things with a bit of contrast. The HVAC vents now have red accents that match the Soul Red exterior color that adorns so many of Mazda’s latest models, which is also matched by glossy piping along the edges of the seat.

2019 Mazda CX-3: Performance Updates

Three Years In, Mazda Trumps the Subcompact Segment with Small Improvements to the CX-3 Exterior
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This is where Mazda didn’t do much in terms of updating but some minor tweaking and tuning is always welcome, and that’s exactly what happened. That 2.0-liter SkyActiv engine was slightly reworked and now delivers 148 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. Those of you well-versed on the CX-3 know that isn’t much, just 2 horsepower and 2 pound-feet, but Mazda says the engine is now more responsive, and the torque increase is valid across the entire RPM range. Mazda finished off by tuning out the suspension and steering systems for better handling, and the G-Vectoring Control should provide a better experience all of the way around with the new tweaks. With that in mind, the engine is now supposed to be more efficient thanks to less friction, but fuel economy figures for comparison have yet to be released.

2016 – 2018 Mazda CX-3 2019 Mazda CX-3
Engine SKYACTIV®1-G 2.0L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT SKYACTIV®1-G 2.0L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT
Horsepower 146 @ 6,000 RPM 148 @ TBA
Torque 146 LB-FT @ 2,800 RPM 148 @ TBA
Fuel System Direct Injection Direct Injection
Engine Block Aluminum Aluminum
Cylinder Head Aluminum Aluminum
Driveline FWD or AWD FWD or AWD
Transmission 6AT 6AT

Final Thoughts

Three Years In, Mazda Trumps the Subcompact Segment with Small Improvements to the CX-3 Exterior
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None of the updates that come with the 2019 model year are groundbreaking, but they are certainly worth their weight in gold

With the CX-3 just making its entrance to the subcompact SUV market in the last couple of years, a refresh certainly wasn’t expected for 2019. If anything, we expected something fresh to come along for 2020 at the earliest. But, the market is constantly changing, and competition is stronger than ever. This is where Mazda shows its supremacy among other automakers as it knows exactly how to stay on top of that competition and deliver something that is worthy of praise. None of the updates that come with the 2019 model year are groundbreaking, but they are certainly worth their weight in gold as they address flaws that were easily noticeable when the CX-3 made its entry to the market for 2016.

You’ve really got to hand it to Mazda for effort and other automakers – I’m not just talking about Honda or Toyota, but premium brands like BMW, Audi, and Mercedes – should take note because this is what it means to update a vehicle. The exterior updates were rather insignificant, and that is where most automakers fail as well, but Mazda followed up with serious updates inside and under the metal and that, my friends, is much more important than revising a look that was more than sufficient and attractive in the first place.

References

2016 - 2017 Mazda CX-3 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Mazda CX-3.

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Read more Mazda news.

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Read more New York Auto Show news.

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