2014 LA Auto Show: 2016 Mazda CX-3 is the Mazda2-based crossover

Article by Christian A., on November 19, 2014

If yesterday the Mazda2-based crossover was just a rumor, today the new vehicle became official at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. That’s right folks, the 2016 Mazda CX-3 was officially unveiled and just like the bigger CX-5 is arrives with the full range of Skyactiv Technology and KODO-Soul of Motion design.

The front end of the vehicle is dominated by the stylish front grille with seven silver-painted fins and new headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights. The peak of the front fenders is pushed rearward to lie beneath the base of the A-pillars, while the front half of the body features a long nose with a flowing shape.

At the rear, the license plate is located in the upper part of the rear bumper, while the entire rear end resembles the bigger CX-5. Also, the CX-3 shows a new colour called Ceramic Metallic. Inside, the 2016 Mazda CX-3 shows the Heads-up Cockpit concept and features high-quality materials such as Parchment leather and off-black Lux Suede.

The Mazda Connect is ready to make offer hands-free phone operation, reception of short text images, as well as internet radio including Aha by Harman.

For North American market, the Mazda CX-3 will be offered with the Skyactiv-G 2.0-liter petrol engine, bolted to a six-speed manual or an optional automatic transmission. Power can be sent to the front-wheel drive system, while the next-gen all-wheel-drive system is offered as an option.

Press Release

2016 Mazda CX-3

Mazda sets the standard for the quickly growing league of B-segment crossovers with the all-new Mazda CX-3 - and for a new era of go-anywhere freedom.

Mazda took a human-centric approach to developing its first small SUV. Instead of looking at what the competition was doing, the unconventional carmaker instead asked what form this model would take if its young and creative users were to be in the ideal position at every point of contact with the car.

Hence the exceptionally ergonomic heads-up cabin and human-machine interface, safe and easy-to-use smartphone connectivity system, and vast line-up of advanced active safety technology. And the responsive yet efficient SKYACTIV powertrains to go with exceptional car-like handling. And all the choice: economical FWD or intelligent user-friendly AWD, diesel or petrol, automatic or manual - the list goes on.

No limits

It all makes the CX-3 a smart choice for a wide range of needs: A vehicle that connects with its owners and fosters their independent, active lifestyles. Designers spared no effort on the CX-3's KODO exterior, either. Mazda prioritised the values people would sense when they got into the car and started to drive, selecting the shapes and functions accordingly. The result is a bold package that truly stands out in this class as one destined to attract universal appeal rather than polarising. Original, the Mazda way, the all-new CX-3 has all the makings of a game changer.


The all-new Mazda CX-3: An all-new model for a new era. Driven by its spirit of original thinking, Mazda was aiming with its first-ever small SUV for an incomparable style that instantly rises above the crowd and says "this is it!"

In typical Mazda fashion, the CX-3's progressive shapes exude fun and do it with dignity, mirroring the active lifestyle and enlightened, independent outlook of the typical buyer. So, while sharing many KODO - Soul of Motion traits with other Mazdas, from the sculpted, flowing lines to the compact rear-leaning cabin, the CX-3's bold face, large wheels, side mouldings and high beltline also unmistakably express its go-anywhere SUV character.

Up front, the high-nosed grille with seven silver fins and chromed signature wings extending into the sharp headlamp signature clearly show the way forward for the Mazda brand.

The glinting predator-like eyes feature full LED headlamps with light-guiding technology that illuminates the portion of the wing within the headlamp unit.

Larger than life

Indeed, all KODO models are characterised by a strong footing, but the CX-3 takes this a "step" further with substantial 18-inch aluminium wheels. The shiny machined outer surface finish of their five sets of three-dimensionally contoured spokes contrasts sharply with the gunmetal grey metallic contour surfaces.

Around back, the cleanly crafted tailgate design featuring a number plate recess emphasises the CX-3's short overhang, at the same time concealing the rear parking camera. The combination taillights stretch from the sides of the car into the liftgate. Complementing the headlamps, they feature a unique brand signature with a slim upper line and three-dimensionally contoured brake lamp. The details underscore the rear end's sporty SUV durability, right down to the prominent dual exhaust pipes.

An exclusive line-up of body colours

The Mazda CX-3 is available in one of nine body colours including the innovative new Ceramic Metallic. It features a completely new texture that changes with the lighting: cooler under normal conditions with a lustrous, futuristic effect in brighter light. The CX-3 is also offered in Soul Red Metallic, Arctic White, Jet Black, Deep Crystal Blue, Meteor Grey, Titanium Flash, Dynamic Blue, and Crystal White Pearl.


Unconstrained mobility applies inside the all-new Mazda CX-3, too. Combining the best of all worlds, from an outstanding field of view to an experience-enhancing layout, the small SUV offers a pleasantly surprising level of tastefully sophisticated comfort.

Like all new Mazdas, the CX-3 is driver oriented and driving focused. Behind the wheel, it offers class-beating adjustability to make the experience a pleasure for people of all sizes. The seat has 260mm of movement range front-to-back and 40mm vertically, while the steering wheel tilts 45mm and adjusts 50mm telescopically. Together with the symmetrical pedals, optimally positioned gauges and controls, and top-class front shoulder and legroom, this also helps prevent fatigue on long trips.

The SUV's high eye point provides drivers with an excellent view of the road and the ability to see the top 20% of a 100cm child (or similarly sized objects) in front of the CX-3. The layout and abundance of glass also delivers good rearward visibility, even diagonally - helpful when changing lanes or reversing out of parking spaces.

Underlining the potential

The cabin design echoes the exterior's go-anywhere style in many ways. The decorative panel on the passenger side, for example, emphasises the width of the dash and by extension the CX-3's solid footing. Other details convey subtle handcrafted quality, like the three round climate control louvers offset by a discreetly slim horizontal vent. Or the instrument cluster hood finished in a stitched leather-grain look.

The futuristic solid-metal form of the door trim, meanwhile, says progressive, complementing the striking dark red soft door trim material and matching kneepads on the centre console. The seats feature sporty half-leather upholstery with a quilted central section. A leatherette/fabric combination as well as fabric are also available. And it's all set off tastefully with the minimalistic black keynote colour.

Interior finishing: the choices

The top of the line interior package features pure-white leather and off-black Lux Suede® upholstery combined with dark red accents and a conspicuous machined aluminium-look finish for the metallic panels. One alternative is an elegant blend of black leatherette and dark grey fabric upholstery, which contrasts with the same dark red accents as above while complementing the soft black padded decorative panel with red stitching. Finally, two different combinations of fabric upholstery are also available combined with silver accents, dark red climate control louvre rings and a soft black padded decorative panel with silver stitching.

A market-oriented cargo space

The Mazda CX-3's 350 litre boot expands to 1,260 litres with the 6:4 split rear seatbacks folded. One highlight is its flexibility, featuring a two-way cargo board positionable at two different levels according to needs. The higher location flattens the large load surface with the rear seats folded, offering enough room underneath to store items such as a folding camping table or sporting equipment like tennis gear or a skateboard. The lower position, meanwhile, creates enough room for two 67cm suitcases with the rear seats occupied. Either way, the high liftgate opening and small bottom lip simplifies loading and unloading.

Connectivity, Functionality & Equipment

Safety, functionality, com- fort and connectivity seamlessly come together in the all-new Mazda CX-3, enabling drivers and passengers to stay connected with the world around them as well as the road ahead.

Cabin functionality in the CX-3 is built around Mazda's new-generation human-machine interface. It has all vital controls like the pedals, gearshift, steering wheel and rotary commander ergonomically positioned to feel like extensions of the driver's body.

The Active Driving Display, among the first head-up displays in its segment, plays a crucial role, providing real-time driving data in the driver's forward field of view. Speed, directions and active safety warnings from the CX-3's i-ACTIVSENSE active safety systems are among the three items of real-time information displayed at any given time, prioritised according to importance. That and other driving data can also be viewed on the instrument cluster, which features a large central analogue tachometer with a digital speedometer and other gauges.

The 7-inch touchscreen display located on the dash above the centre stack is the hub of the infotainment zone - and the gateway to CX-3's MZD Connect smartphone connectivity system. Controllable with minimal effort using the rotary commander on the centre console (or voice command for many functions), the setup is designed to keep the driver's eyes on the road while enjoying online content via the BOSE® premium sound system, for example.

MZD Connect: Not just a pretty interface

MZD Connect seamlessly synchs with smartphones via Bluetooth or USB, allowing occupants to safely connect in transit with the internet, keep up with social media, or send and receive emails, voice or text messages - must-haves for many prospective CX-3 owners.

The abundant infotainment options accessible via MZD Connect include Aha®, a cloud -based multimedia platform with tens of thousands of radio stations, podcasts, audio books and more. Users can also connect with personalised location-based services as well as Twitter and Facebook audio feeds, replying with "likes" or posting audio messages using "shout" functionality. As for navigation features, the system leverages NAVTEQ map data from an SD card to show locations and routes. Search for points of interest, filling stations or other destinations and simply set them into the navigation system.

Operated using the rotary commander or voice command, MZD Connect also features several Mazda apps including Eco-display, which allows drivers to track fuel consumption.


Unconstrained driving fun was the name of the game for the engines and transmissions powering the all-new Mazda CX-3.

At the heart of the CX-3 beats either a petrol SKYACTIV-G 2.0 in two power outputs or a SKYACTIV-D 1.5 clean diesel, with power transferred to the front or all four wheels via six-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic or SKYACTIV-MT manual transmissions. Both engines types are unconventionally efficient, featuring extreme compression, lightweight designs and standard i-stop idle-stop system. It's all been done in pursuit of optimum internal combustion and the best possible balance between performance and fuel efficiency. Both powerplants also provide an immediate and linear response to driver input. And both comply with Euro 6.

The direct-injection SKYACTIV-G 2.0 is offered with either 88kW/120PS for FWD models or 110kW/150PS for AWD CX-3s, both at 6,000rpm, and 204Nm of torque delivered at 2,800rpm. Featuring 14:1 compression, the highest available in a mass-produced passenger car, both versions of the naturally aspirated "rightsized" engine feel remarkably quick right from a standstill. Unlike the downsized petrol units so popular these days, there's no turbo lag. What's more, they're designed for optimum real-world fuel economy; the higher output SKYACTIV-G also gets the i-ELOOP brake energy regeneration system.

The SKYACTIV-D 1.5 also features extreme compression, in this case exceptionally low for a diesel at 14.8:1. Introduced on the Mazda2, it uses a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry that was specially developed to provide sufficient boost in the city while sustaining output at higher speeds. The SKYACTIV-D 1.5 produces 77kW/105PS and 270Nm, a sizable increase over the Mazda2. The extra torque is noticeable as the engine remains quiet and frugal when for example cruising uphill in top gear at motorway speeds. In fact, this powerplant delivers top-class fuel economy under virtually any conditions, whether FWD or AWD.

Power to the road

Both six-speed gearboxes offer smooth yet responsive shifting, either from the SKYACTIV-MT, a manual inspired by the legendary Mazda MX-5, or the SKYACTIV-Drive automatic. A "proper" torque-converter unit, the latter is refreshingly satisfying in a segment where CVTs and dual-clutch transmissions abound. Especially in "sport" mode, which squeezes more out of the CX-3's petrol engines on demand at the flip of the Drive Selection switch on the centre console next to the gearshift.

Chassis & Body

Unrestricted mobility: The all-new Mazda CX-3 combines SUV ground clearance with the cornering and stability of a compact car. And a choice of fuel-sipping front-wheel drive (FWD) or Mazda's intelligent new generation all-wheel drive (AWD) system.

Mazda aimed to achieve the predictable responsiveness to driver input in the CX-3 and natural Jinba Ittai driver-and-car-as-one feeling it strives for in every model. The carmaker therefore specially refined the suspension, steering and brakes for the CX-3's weight, powertrains and high centre of gravity.

The SKYACTIV-Chassis's front MacPherson strut and rear torsion beam suspension was bolstered with stronger, firmer suspension bushings and retuned springs and shocks. The electric power-assisted steering, meanwhile, has a high steering gear ratio in the name of a better balance between steering feedback and vehicle response. Although this comes at the expense of the turning radius, the figure (5.3m kerb-to-kerb) still puts the CX-3 among the class leaders. Finally, the rear brakes received solid discs rather than drums to go with the ventilated front discs.

Part of the the CX-3's surefootedness is based on Mazda's new-generation AWD system that provides power when and where it's needed, and the driver need not flip a single switch. Its intuitive front-wheel slip warning detection system utilises 27 sensor signals to monitor road conditions as well as driver intentions. Instantly determining how much grip each wheel needs, the active torque control coupling sends the right amount of torque to each wheel, even when road conditions are constantly changing. Because the system prevents tire spinning and excessive rear-drive operation, it saves fuel while ensuring superb drivability and vehicle stability. Low-viscosity synthetic oil adds efficiency by reducing resistance, particularly in very cold weather. And because its power take-off and rear differential units are smaller than the ones used on larger-platform Mazdas, the CX-3's AWD driveline weighs 20% less.

Simply sophisticated

Mazda is preoccupied with weight and lightweight high-strength steel played a big role on the CX-3, with almost two-thirds of the body (63%) by weight made up of steels rated at 440MPa or higher. The engineers even used 1,180MPa ultra-high tensile steel for 11 components, including the A-pillars and cross-members connecting the B-pillars, and 1,800MPa hot-stamped steel on the front bumper beams. Besides being exceptionally impact resilient, the latter also cuts weight where it brings the most benefit in terms of handling and responsiveness, namely at the greatest distance from the vehicle's centre of gravity. Along with optimised frame member shapes, which helped trim additional grams, the Mazda CX-3 has one of the lightest bodies-in-white in its class.

Crash-resistant structures, meanwhile, utilise straight frame members whenever possible and a continuous framework that makes the individual sections function in harmony. One example is the rear suspension mounts. They employ a forked structure, connecting the damper top mount to the cross-member as well as the upper and lower sections of the liftgate opening. Another is the rear header on the liftgate opening, which is spot welded to create a closed section.

And to keep the interior quiet and enhance ride comfort, Mazda focused on blocking high-frequency noise paths into the cabin (e.g. from the tires and engine) and concentrating sound absorption where it has the greatest effect, for example on the panels, floor mats and seats. As a result, the CX-3 is on par with C-segment models when it comes to high-frequency noise.

Going to the source of vibration, Mazda's engineers stifled unwanted movement by optimising the engine mounts and fine-tuning suspension and body stiffness. Extra insulation on diesel models suppresses unpleasant noise during acceleration while allowing the enjoyably sporty mid-frequency sound. And since AWD models are more prone to noise and vibration, than those with FWD, Mazda expanded and reinforced the relevant rear cross-member, also tuning the rear differential's rubber mounts to suppress resonance.


Mazdas are built to be fun, and safety is a big part of that. To this end, the all-new Mazda CX-3 features an extensive suite of i-ACTIVSENSE active safety systems. Leveraging state-of the-art detection devices, from high definition cameras and radar to driver warnings systems, i-ACTIVSENSE is indeed like a sixth sense that first warns of impending danger and then, if necessary, initiates pre-crash evasive action.

A first for the carmaker in a B-segment model, Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) uses 76GHz radar to monitor the speed and trailing distance to other vehicles. It automatically adjusts speed to maintain a safe distance, relieving the driver of much of the burden on highway trips. MRCC functions at 30-200km/h and is even effective in suboptimal driving conditions such as at night and/or in the rain.

The Distance Recognition Support System (DRSS) displays the distance to preceding vehicles in the instrument cluster, flashing a warning if the CX-3 is following too closely. Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW), meanwhile, sounds an alert if evasive action is required from the driver.

Mazda calls its autonomous braking system Smart Brake Support (SBS). Working at 15-145 km/h, SBS detects oncoming hazards using millimetre wave radar together with a new monocular camera, which increases the system's precision. SBS pressurises the brakes if FOW sounds a warning, then applying them if necessary to avoid an accident or at least minimise the damage. SBS's low-speed counterpart is Smart City Brake Support (SCBS). SBS also pre-pressurises the system and brakes automatically at 4-30km/h if its near-infrared sensor on the windshield detects an increased risk of collision with a vehicle or obstacle up to 6m ahead of the CX-3.

Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) makes changing lanes safer than ever. Its 24GHz radar keeps track of vehicles approaching from behind and in adjacent lanes at 15km/h and up, setting off visual and audible warnings if the driver signals a lane change into the path of another car. BSM extends the functionality of Mazda's Rear Vehicle Monitoring (RVM) system, also integrating Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), which functions when reversing.

Making drives better

Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) features a camera that monitors lane markings to warn the driver with a rumble-strip sound should the CX-3 unintentionally stray into another lane. LDWS recognises intentional lane changes by, for example, turn signal use.

Another camera-based system, High Beam Control (HBC) monitors the headlights and taillights of approaching and preceding vehicles, automatically switching between high and low beams to avoid blinding other drivers. HBC also switches automatically to low beams on well-lit roads and when travelling at 30km/h or less. It thus eliminates the need for manual operation.

Of course, not all crashes are avoidable. But should one occur, the CX-3 offers a comprehensive approach to passive safety protection that makes the all-new CX-3 one of the safest SUVs of any size.

It starts with the SKYACTIV-Body, which combines innovative engineering principles with lightweight yet robust materials. The CX-3's frame utilises precisely placed high-strength steels, spot welds and unified architectures to efficiently absorb and safely disperse impact forces around and away from the cabin along a multi-load path structure. From the impact absorbent front suspension cross-member that separates from the body in a collision to the 1,180MPa ultra-high tensile steel at the foot of the front seats, the CX-3 packs a lot of structural toughness into a compact body.

The interior has standard front, side and curtain airbags. Thanks to pressure sensors in the front doors, they react more quickly than ever to side impacts. Four seatbelts are equipped with pretensioners as well as load limiters to reduce pressure on an occupant's chest, and the steering shaft also moves forward to protect the driver during a frontal impact. Reinforced rear seatbacks, meanwhile, prevent luggage intrusion. And with pedestrians in mind, the CX-3 features a considerable crumple zone between the bonnet and engine as well as a special energy absorbing cowl and front bumper.

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