Sunday, 9 August 2020

2019 Mazda CX-3 Review

 


Intro
Last year I had the chance to review the 2018 Mazda CX-3. I praised the CX-3 for its attractive styling, engaging drive, and impressive fuel economy. It is an almost perfect car for drivers that don't need a ton of cargo space. One of my biggest complaints about the car was the lack of an armrest. For 2019, Mazda has addressed this issue, and also subtly enhanced both the exterior and interior design of the new CX-3.

Thanks to Mazda Canada, I was given the chance to test drive the 2019 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD for a week. Below is my unbiased review.

Exterior
The exterior has remained largely the same as the 2018 model. It is a good thing, as the KODO - Soul of Motion design of the CX-3 is sleek, yet timeless.

Some of the exterior changes include a new front grille that enhances the sense of depth, new piano black accents in the side pillars and fog light bezels, new chrome accents upfront and along the side profile, new LED combination tail lights, and a fresh set of 18" alloy wheels.

The newly available Soul Red color that Mazda has cocktailed in its lab is breathtakingly beautiful. According to my buddy at the auto repair shop, also very hard to paint match. Something to bear in mind.








Interior
The interior of the 2019 CX-3 sees even more improvements. Mazda has switched to an electronic parking brake with auto-hold feature to free up precious space in the center console. The cup holders are relocated, an additional storage compartment is added, and there is finally an armrest that is covered with soft padding. It is positioned perfectly for reaching the shifter, and the center control panel.

The leather front seats have also been redesigned to be wider and more supportive. The leather seats are also available in lower trims with the Luxury Package for the first time. The rear-seat passengers can find a new center armrest with built-in cupholders.

The OEM waterproofing floor matts that comes with our tester looks cool and feels upscale, but it is also quite slippery. Maybe it will get better with time.

All these interior changes specifically address some of the biggest complaints I have with the 2018 CX-3. They show that Mazda really does listen to its customers and strive to provide them with tangible benefits.



  










Infotainment
This is one area that I have trouble with our 2019 CX-3 tester. The infotainment system that focuses on the 7" touchscreen remains unchanged. It is largely responsive once the system has finished booting. However, when you first start the car, it takes approximately a minute before the system is fully loaded. During this time, phone commands don't work, and the system is noticeably laggy. It could potentially be a software issue for this particular tester, and I imagine the issue can be easily fixed with a software update.

On the other hand, I still don't see Android Auto and Apple Carplay in the menu. I know Mazda is having some trouble adopting the round dial switch gear with the Android Auto interface, but in 2019, the lack of these basic features is becoming unacceptable. (I have later learned that all CX-3 manufactured after September 1, 2018 comes with Android Auto and Apple Carplay. Yeah!)

Thankfully, the heads-up display is still excellent, and the instrument cluster remains one of the simplest, and most intuitive to use.





Driving
The Mazda CX-3's SKYACTIV-G 2.0L engine has received various updates to reduce internal friction, and to increase efficiency. This in turn, increases low-end torque, and peak horsepower. The engine now produces 148hp of power (up 2 from 2018), and 146lb-ft of torque. The added low-end torque gives the CX-3 a more rewarding launch. It still feels slightly under-power when overtaking cars on the highway, but provides enough power and torque for day to day city drives.

The 6-speed automatic transmission is tuned to be more fuel efficient in Normal mode. To make the drive more spirited, one would have to switch to Sport mode. However, the transmission in this mode tends to hold each gear longer than necessary. I think there is an opportunity for Mazda to fine tune the computer algorithm to provide a more consistent, and intelligent shifting experience. The AWD system is mostly front wheel biased, but the i-ACTIV system uses data collected about the car and environment 200 times a second to send power to the rear wheels when necessary. The result is a sophisticated ride that is also smooth and obstructive.

The 2018 CX-3 had already enjoyed great handling and chassis dynamics on the road. In 2019, Mazda has further enhanced the system to optimize dampening characteristics and increase responsiveness. To soften the ride, new 18-inch, low-profile tires have been developed to better absorb shocks from road surfaces and reduce braking distances.

All in all, the CX-3 provides a very pleasant driving experience that is more refined than the previous model. I only wish there could be a more powerful engine option.

On another note, Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring (ABSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) is now standard for all trims. This is a welcoming move as this safety feature is what I considered to be one of the most essential while on the road.



Cargo
The cargo configuration has remained unchanged from 2018. Behind 2nd row seats is 452L of cargo space for GX and GS, and 408L for GT. With 2nd row seats folded, this is increased to 1,528L for GX and GS, and 1484 for GT.

The addition of a center console storage, and integrated cup holders in the rear seat center armrest gives the passengers more small items storage options in the 2019 CX-3






Verdict
The 2019 Mazda CX-3 builds on the excellent reputation of the 2018 model and provides numerous upgrades. Some of the standout changes include the addition of a front center armrest, the decision to make blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert standard for all trims, and the inclusion of Android Auto and Apple Carplay. All of the individual changes, while minute, makes the CX-3 that much more enjoyable to drive. I highly recommend it for a family of two, or anyone that doesn't require a lot of cargo space.

Test Vehicle
2019 MAZDA CX-3 GT AWD
MSRP
$33,890CAD including Freight and PDE
Color
Soul Red Crystal Metallic

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