Can it sell this time around atleast?

The subcompact crossover segment is the fastest growing segment currently. Crossovers are turning out to be the evolved form of sedans, with more and more people opting for cars with raised stance and an SUV look. It looks like Mazda has taken a note of the same and has finally launched the refreshed CX-3, three years after its launch, to rake in a bigger share of the pie. After selling an average of 1500 units per month since its inception, the car was in desperate need of a refresh to give that number a boost. Despite being a bang-for-the-buck car, the CX-3 never brought volumes for Mazda. Can changes for the 2019 model year brighten its fortunes?

2019 Mazda CX-3 Exterior

2019 Mazda CX-3
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As it is with all the cars in this pseudo-SUV segment, the CX-3 gets an upright stance with an intimidating face that will stand out in the crowd. Although it gets mild updates over the previous model, the CX-3 comes out looking handsome in 2019 attire. A new Soul Red Crystal color has been added as well.

In the front, it gets a prominent new grille design, accentuated with piano black accents in the fog bezels.

The chrome on the grille border is stretched to the inside of the headlamps as well. Brownie points to Mazda for integrating it so seamlessly.

If you’re a fan of chrome treatments, you will not be disappointed. The chrome accents begin up front and continue to the side profile as well – on the window sills and door cladding. A crease, beginning from the headlights, runs all the way to the front doors. This not only adds a little funkiness to the sides, but also adds character to the otherwise plain-jane look. The car gets blackened out B-pillars and C-pillars, giving it kind of a floating-roof look. The CX-3 rides on 18-inch, 10-spoke alloys that fill the large wheel wells quite well. We would’ve preferred a gunmetal finish to the existing chrome alloys, but they go well along with the other chrome accents on the body.

2019 Mazda CX-3
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From some angles, the car will remind you of the Lexus RX, even though there’s no resemblance whatsoever. The rear is similar to the outgoing model, except for the new LED taillights.

The rear windshield gets a small wiper that just about cleans enough for the driver to see things clearly.

Two huge reflectors on the bumper complement the two exhaust pipes nicely. The exhaust pipes are finished with chrome tips. Looks like the ‘C’ in CX-3 stands for Chrome!

2019 Mazda CX-3 Interior

2019 Mazda CX-3
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Step inside the car, and you’ll be welcomed by a familiar looking layout. The center console gets a little tweaking here and there, but nothing major. The steering wheel fits perfectly well in the hands, and the mounted controls are also ergonomically placed. The horn pad could’ve been a size or two larger though.

The instrument cluster has a large tachometer in the middle, along with the other details with two screens, one on either side.

The top-trim gets you a heads-up display as well, something you don’t see often in a compact crossover. Sweet!

With that said, the cabin is not a spacious one. The front occupants wouldn’t complain, but the rear passengers and your luggage will not be happy. If you’re a tall person, you will find the legroom, headroom, and shoulder room to insufficient. Add to that, the sloping roofline that will make your head bump on every hump; and it also affects the driver’s rear visibility. The boot has a meager 408 liters of space, which will make fitting two hardtop suitcases a tight fit.

However, on the utility end, the CX-3 has improved a lot. One can find a lot of storage space for those little knick-knacks everywhere. Mazda has clearly favored the comfort aspect this time. Seats have been redesigned in and out, and the difference can be felt. It also gets suede-like finish around the cabin and red accents around the AC vents. The old AC controlling knobs get replaced with the modern looking rotating wheels. The rear gets an armrest with cupholders.

2019 Mazda CX-3
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On the tech front, Mazda provides a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Mazda Connect.

The 7-inch screen is a tad bit small, though, especially when the driver is operating while on the move.

Call me orthodox, but nothing beats the classic knobs and buttons over these touchscreen systems. On the top Grand Touring trim, the CX-3 gets Bose speakers. As for the connectivity, Mazda committed a huge blunder. There is no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay available here! Seriously, Mazda? When cars half your price can offer it, why would you omit it?

2019 Mazda CX-3 Drivetrain

2019 Mazda CX-3
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The CX-3 is offered with only one engine - a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder SKYACTIV-G unit that produces 148 horses and 146 pound-feet of torque.

Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission system.

An all-wheel-drive system is available on any trim for an extra cost. The gearbox comes with manual mode and a Sport mode. The automaker offers an i-ACTIVSENSE package, which includes LED headlights, Radar Cruise Control, automatic rain-sensing wipers, adaptive front-light system, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror, among other things

On the safety front, Mazda has been generous. An electronic parking brake finds its way into the 2019 CX-3. It also gets auto hill-hold, Blind Spot monitoring, Cross-traffic alert, Cruise Control, lane departure warning, high beam control, and smart brake support, to name a few.

Mazda CX-3 Driving Impressions

2019 Mazda CX-3
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The CX-3 is a typical Mazda product. Get behind the steering wheel, and you’ll find the handling to be crisp. The car responds well to driver input even when it’s pushed hard in the corners. The tires stick to the tarmac like a leach, providing excellent road grip; thanks to the G-Vectoring control that balances the weight over each wheel. With that said, the engine is not peppy or revv-friendly whatsoever. Floor the gas pedal it sounds like the engine is gasping for breath. It gets pretty loud, which should not be the case for a 2.0-liter engine. But let’s not forget that this is not a gas guzzler.

The CX-3 delivers 34 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg in the city.

for the FWD version and 32/27 for the AWD model. For the kind of figures it returns per gallon, one should not whine about the performance. The car is a decent performer as per the segment standards. Also, the paddle shifters compensate for the screams and grunts the car lets out in case of hard driving.

2019 Mazda CX-3 Pricing

2019 Mazda CX-3
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The Sport trim is priced at $20,390, while the Touring retails at $22,475. The fully-loaded Grand Touring is a little more expensive and sells at $25,745. The prices mentioned are for the front-wheel-drive variants. If you want to opt for AWD system, you can avail it for an addition $1400 in any trim.

2019 Mazda CX-3 Competition

Honda HR-V

2016 - 2017 Honda HR-V High Resolution Exterior
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After getting launched in the last century and surviving for 7 years, the HR-V went on a hiatus in 2006, only to make a comeback 10 years later. The HR-V is currently in its second generation and is the CX-3’s primary rival. While they go head-to-head in most aspects, the HR-V’s USP is its rear space and the large cargo area – which incidentally happens to be the CX-3’s weakest points. The HR-V is one of the least expensive cars in the segment, starting at $20,500 for the base trim and topping out at $27,000. However, if you need a driver’s car and are willing to compromise on the rear and cargo space, the CX-3 should be your pick.

Read our full review on the 2018 Honda HR-V

Toyota C-HR

2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Exterior
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The third car in the segment with three hyphenated alphabet/numerical combination (interesting, right?), the C-HR is Toyota’s face in the Crossover segment. Starting at $23,500, the C-HR is a stylish car with perhaps, the best looks. The car is a neutral player with nothing really special or hideous. It is heavy on the safety front but loses out on tech-savvy features. It also has hard plastics all around, which don’t give the C-HR a premium feel. Who are you targeting, Toyota? Everyone loves to be spoiled. Here, again, our pick would be the CX-3.

Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota C-HR.

Ford EcoSport

2018 Ford EcoSport High Resolution Exterior
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Ford’s pokemon in the crossover battlefield is the EcoSport. The EcoSport benefits from the best driving position amongst all the cars. The dominating, tall driving position will bring a smile to your face, but the weak engine in the base trim will wear it off equally as fast. Other than the driver, all the occupants will find the EcoSport to be a good car. If you’re looking for a point A to point B car with American DNA, the EcoSport will suffice your needs. Even though the base trim gets a turbocharged engine, the 1.0-liter, three cylinder doesn’t make a mark for itself against the competition. The 123 ponies available at disposal is also quite less when compared to the likes of HR-V and the Mazda CX-3. Prices start at $21,000.

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford EcoSport.

Our Take

2019 Mazda CX-3
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The Mazda CX-3, with all its flaws, is still one of the strongest contenders amongst the other crossovers. Like we mentioned earlier, if you are willing to give up on the cargo space and the adult-unfriendly-space in the rear, the CX-3 is what you must opt for. Yes, there are some unforgivable omissions like the missing Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but the CX-3 is still a notch above the competition. We enthusiasts are always greedy for more and feel that Mazda had the perfect opportunity to overcome its shortcomings with the 2019 model. Well, we won’t deny that they tried to offer a better driver experience, which is lacking in almost all the cars in the segment. Will this ‘old’ car resurrect in the new avatar, or slip into oblivion and surrender to the competition? We have high hopes from the CX-3. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section as well.

Further reading

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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