Review: 2018 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD – Part 2

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This is the Mazda 4 cylinder Skyactiv engine that powers the Mazda CX-3 GT. It’s a 2.0L engine that puts out 146 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque through a six-speed automatic gearbox that you can shift manually using the paddle shifters or the gear lever. One thing that I should note is the unlike some cars that need you to put the transmission into a sport mode to use the paddle shifters, these paddle shifters can be used at any time. Excellent! All four wheels motivate the CX-3 via Mazda’s predictive i-ACTIV all-wheel drive system. This system uses a bunch of sensors to figure out driver intent, road conditions, and likelihood of the wheels slipping to make sure the power goes to the right wheels before it is needed. I didn’t have any inclement weather during my week of testing. But I did take it up a gravel road that was kind of steep to get it a parking lot in a Provincial Park it did feel sure footed the entire time.

This combination of engine, transmission and all-wheel drive system make the CX-3 a rocket. Okay, you’re not going to drop 911’s off the line. But if you need power, it will surge forward with enthusiasm. Be it merging onto a highway, or passing a transport truck. I also think that Mazda must have tweaked the transmission logic in this iteration of the CX-3 because the last time that I drove this vehicle, I noted that I would sometimes have to put my foot down to get the most out of the vehicle. This time around I didn’t have to. That was a welcome surprise. But if you want to have more fun, there’s always the sport mode switch which amps everything up to 11.

Handling of the 2018 version of the CX-3 has really improved for the most part over the 2016 that I drove. It’s even more nimble than I noted its predecessor being. It feels very solid, more responsive, and it has excellent road feel. Plus they’ve added G-Vectoring Control which from personal experience from driving the Mazda3 last year makes a huge difference in terms of the handling attributes of the CX-3. The only critique that I have is that the suspension seems to be stiffer than its predecessor. While that improves handling, it also makes it feel a bit harsh over really rough roads. And while I was out on my test loop which I take all the vehicles that I review out on, I noted that I had to take some speed bumps really slowly to avoid not hearing the suspension bottom out. That was something that I did not note in the 2016 model. The 2018 CX-3 is also way more quiet than it’s predecessor which in my opinion was pretty decent. All I hear is some tire noise at highway speeds. The wind noise that I noted in the 2016 was far less present. Thus the acoustic glass and other changes to the 2018 have made a difference on that front.

I’m currently getting 8.3L / 100KM’s in mixed city and highway driving, often in rush hour. That’s not bad and pretty much matches what I got the last time I drove the CX-3. Thus it is still a winner when it comes to fuel economy.

Tomorrow, I am going to look at the interior of the CX-3 which quite simply is a class above. Stay tuned to find out why I say that.

 

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