That’s a pretty bold mission statement. But it was the concept for Mazda CX-3 initial design and engineering direction. And it made sense. Mazda CX-3 transcended the typical notions of what was the quickly burgeoning subcompact crossover SUV segment. It exemplified KODO—Soul of Motion design, sleek, with wheels pushed out to its corners, a taut greenhouse, large wheels and a long hood and short deck. Its chassis dynamics were far better than a crossover had any right to be. It was a clean-sheet design, executed with the notion of providing those with active lifestyles a vehicle to complement their vibrant, fulfilling lives.
For its second update, designers and engineers were emboldened with the mission of making Mazda CX-3 “Exquisite and Edgy.” Mazda applied its latest technologies and design principles to further elevate CX-3, including customer feedback to make Mazda CX-3 an even more compelling vehicle, offering improved ride comfort without compromising its driving dynamics, updating the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 for greater responsiveness and efficiency and enriching CX-3’s interior with a beautiful Japanese aesthetic, replete with new, upscale materials and design.
LESS IS MORE: A STORY OF DESIGN
KODO Design is sharp, striking, yet minimalistic. It’s a uniquely Japanese aesthetic that emphasizes strength through form and proportions, from how the light graces a vehicle’s edges as you walk around it to adding visual weight to a vehicle’s rear as if it were an animal ready to leap. It’s a concept that draws strength not through lines and creases; rather, its beauty is in what it’s there. That’s what has made KODO so timeless since its introduction on the 2010 SHINARI concept car.
And it’s what helped Mazda CX-3 earn a top-three finalist spot for World Car Design of the Year when it debuted, finishing alongside a luxury sedan and behind Mazda’s very own MX-5 Miata. For its latest update, designers made subtle exterior improvements that add a deeper feeling of elegance and quality. A new front grille provides a stronger presence with a greater sense of depth. The addition of new chrome accents upfront continue along the profile of the vehicle, helping create a feeling of forward motion. Piano black accents, such as in the side pillars and fog light bezels, along with the addition of Soul Red Crystal premium paint, add to the sensation of a vehicle whose presence transcends its price point.
Mazda CX-3’s LED tail lights adopt a new design that produces a cylindrical, machine-like. Additionally, new 18-inch wheels use a multifaceted spoke design with a metallic sheen to evoke a sense of depth and speed that complements the new chrome accents on CX-3’s body.
CX-3 sees even greater changes, with elements that have stretched its edgy design elements to fit a more premium sensibility.
As with so much of Japanese design, an emphasis was places on eliminating the unnecessary. But, that didn’t stop Mazda’s design and engineering teams to add what was essential. Perhaps, the greatest change inside is CX-3’s newly redesigned center console and armrests. In switching to an electronic parking brake with auto-hold feature not only improves functionality of the vehicle, it allowed Mazda designers plenty of space to rethink the center console, now with relocated cupholders, storage in the center console and an integrated armrest. The armrest is covered with soft padding, enhancing the quality and feel of the CX-3.
Continuing upfront, Mazda CX-3’s front seats have been fully redesigned, wider, with high-density, vibration-absorbing urethane foam that creates a firm, supportive seating surface. Yet, they’re supple enough to keep the driver and passenger comfortable for long trips. For the first time, higher-grade models will be available with full leather seat surfaces.
Additionally, from the dashboard to the door trims, suede-like material provides a sophisticated ambiance for CX-3’s occupants. Coloring has been simplified, with gray serving as a base color, complemented by white or black leather seats in higher-grade models. New red louver accents around CX-3’s HVAC vents share a rich luster, similar to Soul Red Crystal. A high-gloss pleated piping on CX-3’s leather seats complement its radical, yet sophisticated style.
Not to be forgotten, rear-seat passengers will also find new amenities, with CX-3 adding a center armrest with built-in cupholders that compactly complements CX-3’s capacities.
Such updates are unheard of throughout CX-3’s segment, yet they speak to the lengths Mazda will go to add improvements that provide customers with tangible benefits.
Mazda strives to build vehicles that further heighten the sense of connectedness between driver and car—a valued characteristic of all Mazda vehicles called Jinba Ittai. Based on this approach, every aspect of how CX-3 drives was taken into account and refined. Those efforts resulted in a host of upgrades to its powertrains and suspension, leading to improved handling, ride comfort and quietness.
Mazda CX-3 comes standard with an eager SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter, direct-injection gasoline engine. This highly efficient, four-cylinder engine has been retuned to increase torque across its entire RPM range, improve fuel-efficiency and reduce internal friction. These advancements allow CX-3 to be able to respond much quicker to the driver’s intentions, while improving refinement. Peak SKYACTIV-G 2.0 numbers increase to 148 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque.
The revised engine is complemented by Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control (GVC) technology, which uses engine timing to control chassis dynamics, leading to smoother, more accurate steering inputs. CX-3’s suspension and power steering have also been fine-tuned to optimize dampening characteristics and enhance responsiveness. Furthermore, new 18-inch, low-profile tires have been developed to better absorb shocks from road surfaces and reduce braking distances.
Thicker door panels, rear-door glass, headliner and upgraded door seams additionally help provide a quieter and more refined cabin. Altogether, these carefully engineered tweaks encourage a balance of exhilarating performance, precision handling and excellent ride comfort fitting for any adventure ahead.
Mazda does not stop at delivering vehicles that meet customer expectations. Instead, its engineers, designers and product planners look to exceed them. Mazda believes in constant improvement in order to enrich the drive and help owners and drivers build a strong bond with the brand. Mazda CX-3 takes yet another step forward with elegant, refined design enhancements and satisfying performance that continue to draw praise from owners and media, alike.
Constant refinements, even the most minute, can make all the difference when they’re all combined. More than just a vehicle that will simply take you from point A to B, or a fad that comes and goes, Mazdas are designed to provide an enjoyable experience, from their striking design to crafted, high-quality, intuitive interiors to a driving experience that even makes the smallest tasks into enjoyable adventures. Mazda CX-3 may be the gateway into the Mazda brand, but it’s hardly merely entry-level. It continues to be the standard of a new generation, elevated.
The new Mazda CX-3 goes on sale in the U.S. in spring 2018. Full specs and on-sale timing for overseas models will be announced at a later date.