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I went to a local dealer and sat in a CX-3 yesterday. I could not test drive it since it was the only one that they had and it was in the show room. Here are my thoughts on comparing the CX-3 to the 3 and even a little on the cx-5.

TL;DR: CX-3 easily looks better, inside and out, than the 3. The 3 FEELS better (iow, more roomy) than the CX-3. I didn't get to drive them, so handling aside the 3 wins for better mpg and a bigger engine option. For the technology I declare a sort of tie.

All of this makes deciding between the two really hard. The 3 is really the better car all the way around, but the CX-3 LOOKS so much better inside and out. It may simply come down to the availability of options/colors that I want more than anything else. If I get the 3 I'll be jealous of the looks of every CX-3 I see. If I get the CX-3 I'll be jealous of the comfort and driving experience of every 3 I see,

Aesthetics:
In person the CX-3 (GT/AWD, Soul Red, parchment leather interior) looks really nice. I really think on the exterior it just looks so much cooler than the 3. Kinda like a 3 on Steroids. The interior I also think looks really nice, and to my eye it looks nicer than the 3. For some reason the 3 just kinda looks barren in comparison inside. However, the CX-3 interior of black/white/red would look really odd if the car's exterior were blue. Or really any color other than red, white, or black. Otherwise the red accents just look out of place. I didn't have the issues with the cup holders and center arm rest that others seem ot have. It is thin, and kinda looks a bit like a cheap after thought, but it felt completely sturdy, and is fairly unobtrusive so even if it looks like an after thought, you don't notice it much. The placement was fine with me, not too far back as others have complained, but I am also 6' tall. If you scoot the seat closer to the wheel I can see where you might have a problem.

The 3 looks good from the front and from the sides. It's the butt-end of the car (hatch, as that is all that I am interested in) that just looks like they didn't finish it or something. The rest of the car is so well designed, and the rear just looks boring. They should have had a shallower rake on the rear windshield for starters. It just looks like a bubble-butt on the 3. It vaguely reminds me of the roundness of an AMC pacer that has been squished on the sides. The interior of the 3 is very similar to the CX-3. It doesn't have the red accents, the A/C vents are not round and are therefore less prominent, the center console just seems a lot more sparse than the CX-3. Again, it looks like they just didn't finish the design, whereas the CX-3 looks complete. The 3 has a better armrest and cupholders for sure though. For the passenger, the 3 is more plain and basic and boring than the CX-3 which looks much more upscale. From the drivers perspective the gauges and all that stuff is the same for both cars.

My verdict is that the CX-3 easily wins in the exterior aesthetics. It wins in the interior aesthetics if your exterior color is black, white, or red. In another color the edge goes to the 3 because it just doesn't look odd.

Size and comfort:
I sat in the CX-3 and the interior was smaller than I had expected. It wasn't tiny or cramped at all, but you can tell it was a compact. Lets call it cozy, but comfy. In the driver's seat I felt comfortable. Again I wouldn't call it tight or cramped, but you know it is a compact. **Much** smaller (but still nicer and more comfortable) than the HR-V. The seats are very comfy, and felt very much like the seats in the 3, only maybe more narrow by the tiniest bit? I sat in the back. It's really tiny back there.When I sat behind the driver seat with the driver seat adjusted for me, my knees had to go on either side of the drivers seat (IOW, sitting with legs apart). There was not enough room for me to sit with my knees together in front of me. The back SEAT itself feels just fine, it's just that there is no leg room. For me, that's OK. It will be rare that I have anyone sitting in the back, and when they do leg space will be their problem, not mine. :) The hatch is small. It is slightly more narrow, less depth, and has a higher floor (to fit the AWD system, which I don't care about). Enough room for my 2 dogs with the seats folded down, but they are medium sized dogs. If you have really large ones it would be cramped. When I looked at it, I couldn't really tell that it was THAT much smaller than the 3, other than the height, but I hadn't been in a 3 for 6 months or more.

So then I sat in a 3 again, for the first time in 6 months. After sitting in the CX-3, the 3 felt absolutely luxurious in terms of space!! I really hadn't expected that. While I didn't feel cramped or squeezed in the CX-3, when I sat in the 3 it was like "Ahhhhh" <- like the noise you make after sinking into a spa after a hard day of physical labor. It really wasn't until I sat in the 3 that I noticed who small the CX-3 was in the drivers seat! The arm rest was better, the overall ergonomics seemed to be a little better. But understand, if I get a 3 I want a stick. Being able to put your arm on the armrest and still have the stick at the same level is nice. In the CX-3 the armrest puts your arm at a greater height than say the Infotainment system controls. Your arm just doesn't lay naturally across the armrest and controls in the CX_3 as it does in the 3. Not a HUGE issue for me because I wouldn't get a stick in the CX-3, but if I were it might be a big issue. But I digress... so yeah, I was pretty surprised at how much roomier the 3 felt for the driver. Not too big (like the CX-5), not too small. Just right. The CX-3 was on the smaller side of just right, straddling that "just right" and "too small" line for me. I moved to the back seats. Wow. For the back seats, even though it doesn't look like it should be much different, there is a lot more room in the back seats of the 3. It's nice that the 2016 3 is supposedly coming with a pull out arm rest for the back in the 3. Again, I don't sit in the back, so the room back there isn't a HUGE deal for me, but it is important to note for others. In the CX-3 front seat I felt snug and comfy. I would not have described it as small or cramped. In the CX-3 back seat that is exactly how I would describe it. Not so in the 3. Then I looked at the trunk/hatch with the seats folded down. Again I was surprised. Compared to the CX-3 the space in the trunk length-wise (from the back of the front seats to the back of the car) was cavernous compared to the CX-3. The width seemed to be slightly wider. The height was hard to tell. The floor of the back in the 3 is lower than the CX-3, and so is the roof, so it was hard to tell a difference. They looked close to the same, with the 3 maybe being the tiniest bit taller inside.

Overall as far as size and comfort goes, the 3 wins easily.

Driving Dynamics:
I have no idea. I haven't been able to test drive them. But the 3 gets way better MPG than the CX-3, and has a manual trans as an option, and has the 2.5 engine as an option. If we say that driving dynamics are the same, the 3 still wins in mpg and a peppier engine.

Technology:
This has been discussed in this thread far more thoroughly than I could go into right now. I will say this:
I don't care about the iActive Sense tech. More parts to brake for 1-2 mpg gain. The auto-turning lights - most reviews say that they aren't very effective, so again, more expensive motors to break for very little gain. The GT trim that I'm looking at gets LEDs all the way around in 2016 AFAIK. The differences between the radar cruise control and city assist are nice, however as a friend of mine experienced in his 2015 Mazda 6, they don't seem to be quick enough in braking in emergency situations at more than like 10 mph, so meh. I've driven for 30 years without it. The rear cross-sensing and blind spot monitoring are the most important to me, and you get those, so the Tech Pkg on either the 3 or CX-3 is too much added expense for the benefit I would get out of it. The fact that the CX-3's blind spot sensor is on 24/7 makes me cringe. Every time a car comes up on my blindspot on the road I'm going to get a beep? That's going to drive me crazy to the point that I'd disable it, rendering it worthless. Turning it on when I turn on my turn signals is perfect for me. Then again, I actually USE my turn signals while so many do not. For those people, definitely get the CX-3 so when you are not paying attention and checking your mirrors or using your signal your car will remind you of what an idiot you are! :) The 9 speaker centerpoint surround system in the 3 is theoretically nicer than the 7 speaker system in the CX-3, but I'll reserve judgement till I hear them myself. It might not be THAT much nicer.

Technology: Its a wash. The 3 might have an edge if it's stereo is noticeably better sounding.

Lastly... I sat in a 2016 CX-5. Roominess is awesome. The new seats are really nice with the adjustable thigh bolster like some BMWs have, however I felt like they didn't have enough on the sides. Gets the same mpg as the CX-3 giver or take. My personal cons for it are sitting too high up (my current car is a G35 coupe, and before that I had a BMW 3-series, so I'm not used to sitting high, or having a high center of gravity so it kinda doesn't inspire confidence) and I don't like the drivers gauges. They are very plain jane boring.
 

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brain21 -- Nice review so far. I'm looking forward to future installments after you've test driven the CX-3 and the 2016 Mazda.

I think you might be wrong regarding the i-Activsense tech. The IIHS and Consumer Reports have ranked at least the forward anti-collision tech in Mazdas very highly alongside the Subaru Eyesight system. Not sure which negative reviews you're citing. I think the Blind Spot monitoring is customizable to an extent. I'm not going to judge it until I test drive and see the manual. Hey Mazda how about getting the manuals uploaded and CX-3 web page updated? Jackasses.

I suspect the stereo is far better in the 3 than the CX-3. Again a test drive will tell. I'l bring my iPod.
 

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Brian:

Great review. I tend to agree with you on most points. I do feel that the CX-3 has slightly better tech, but came to the same conclusion, that I have been driving 30+ years without it, so what the 3 has is nice.

I will say that we have the adaptive headlights on our Mini and I do like them more than I expected to. Could certainly live without them too.

I like the CX-3 exterior better and the 3 Interior better. It seems to be designed around the driver. As you say, the armrest and controls are in a better position to the driver. I do prefer the slightly higher vantage point of the CX-3.

the 2015 3 in the showroom here has the flip down armrest w/cup holders in the rear. I presume this is staying for 2016.

The first car I rented (Ford Edge) a few years ago with blindspot monitoring had it on full time. It was fine. It just lit the mirror indicator, there was no sound. I think the Mazda always on just lights the indicator with now sound, unless the turn signal is on. I don't think it full time beeps when someone is in the blindspot.
 

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I think you might be wrong regarding the i-Activsense tech. The IIHS and Consumer Reports have ranked at least the forward anti-collision tech in Mazdas very highly alongside the Subaru Eyesight system. Not sure which negative reviews you're citing.
The turning headlights - that was from a magazine. I believe it was Consumer Reports. They were speaking about the feature in general, as found on the Mazdas, Lexus, etc. They were not speaking specifically about the Mazda.

As far as the forward-sensing stuff, I wasn't citing a review. I was citing real world experience from a friend of mine. He had a fully loaded 2014 or 5 Mada6 with the city braking, etc. He had mentioned that it had saved him from one accident shortly after he got it. I believe that was driving through a parking lot or something, so low speed. Then a month or so later he got into another accident. I think he was somewhere at the 30mph mark, but I would have to double-check. A car pulled out in front of him. He slammed on his brakes and ended up hitting the guy anyway. He stated that it felt like the automatic braking had pretty much zero effect in that situation.

At this point I am ever so slightly leaning towards the 3. Damn Mazda for making the CX-3 look so cool, and the 3's back so sucky looking - they aren't making it easy for me to decide. I'm just thinking the opportunity of getting a manual transmission again and the roomier front seat is leading me towards the 3. A test drive will tell, eventually.
 

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At this point I am ever so slightly leaning towards the 3. Damn Mazda for making the CX-3 look so cool, and the 3's back so sucky looking - they aren't making it easy for me to decide. I'm just thinking the opportunity of getting a manual transmission again and the roomier front seat is leading me towards the 3. A test drive will tell, eventually.
Although I don't find the 3's looks to be sucky at all and we are getting the AT (will be the first AT I have ever owned), we are with you and I think getting the 3 2.5L. A test drive was one of the factors that helped sway us.

Our thinking is outlined in my post above and we are in agreement with you.
 

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Then my next concern is how long will it take to get the options that I want? On the 3, sGT,, manual trans. no other options/packages, almond interior, the brown mica color. For the CX-3 I would guess I would end up with the red (sigh - I've had red cars for the past 20 years and I'd like something different, but don't want black or white, and any other color looks odd w/ the red interior accents of the parchment interior. At least the Soul Red is a really nice red) GT, no extra packages, but FWD, not AWD. I have a feeling a FWD GT is going to be hard to find.

I'm guessing if I go with the 3 I'm going to have to order one. So then I'm guessing 8 weeks. 1 dealer in my area, if you buy the car from them and do a trade in, they will take the trade in right away and give you a loaner which is really nice, but they aren't the cheapest dealer in town :(
 

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The ugly form of the 2016 M3, especially the hatchback (which is probably what I would get for utility), just keeps me at a distance. I can deal with it given appropriate $ incentives of course, but I don't think those are going to happen.

I've driven the 2.0 auto and 2.5 auto versions of the 2015 GT M3 hatch, but not with sport mode on and not with paddle shifters. While they don't feel immediately zippy around city and suburbs they do seem to have power. The interior luxe is nice.

i-Activsense: as said there are situations where it does not function. If you want to download one of the 2015 year's manuals I believe those instances are detailed there. In the meantime Consumer Reports does put a high recommendation on Mazda's implementation of said tech and more insurance companies are offering discounts for vehicles which employ it.

There is going to be a model refresh of sorts predicted for the 2017 M3s arriving in mid-late 2016. No idea about details. Good guess as to whether they alter the exterior ugliness.

I'm still waiting for my CX-3 test drive. My salesman 'forgot' to tell me the second shipment arrived over the weekend chock full of Sport, Touring and GT models being prepped for road testing. Thinking of canceling my deposit just for that lack of follow-up and moving on. Car dealers make vermin look upstanding.
 

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i-Activsense: .... In the meantime Consumer Reports does put a high recommendation on Mazda's implementation of said tech and more insurance companies are offering discounts for vehicles which employ it.

There is going to be a model refresh of sorts predicted for the 2017 M3s arriving in mid-late 2016. No idea about details. Good guess as to whether they alter the exterior ugliness.
That's interesting about the insurance. I'll have to ask my insurance company what the discount level is. If the package costs say $1500, over 4 years that is $31.25 per month. If the insurance discount is close to that it would totally or at least greatly offset the cost in the long run.

I figure is the car payment is say (just grabbing number out of the air) $450/month and the insurance is $100/month, that's $550. Then you add the tech package and your payment is $480/month and insurance is $20 cheaper ($80/mo), then thats $560, or only $10/month extra for the tech package, bringing the total cost of all that tech to just under $500. Not a bad deal at all. Plus once the car is paid off, you still get the insurance discount. I will definitely have to call my insurance and find out what kind of discounts they offer for this (I'm guessing it's going to be more like $5/mo though).

As far as the refresh in mid2016, rumors are that it will be a Mazda Speed version of the 3. I can't remember where I read that though, but it was this week on some auto site.
 

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That's interesting about the insurance. I'll have to ask my insurance company what the discount level is. If the package costs say $1500, over 4 years that is $31.25 per month. If the insurance discount is close to that it would totally or at least greatly offset the cost in the long run.

I figure is the car payment is say (just grabbing number out of the air) $450/month and the insurance is $100/month, that's $550. Then you add the tech package and your payment is $480/month and insurance is $20 cheaper ($80/mo), then thats $560, or only $10/month extra for the tech package, bringing the total cost of all that tech to just under $500. Not a bad deal at all. Plus once the car is paid off, you still get the insurance discount. I will definitely have to call my insurance and find out what kind of discounts they offer for this (I'm guessing it's going to be more like $5/mo though).

As far as the refresh in mid2016, rumors are that it will be a Mazda Speed version of the 3. I can't remember where I read that though, but it was this week on some auto site.
I'm seriously considering leasing as I don't drive much if at all during the workweek. I'll need to see how that affects costs etc.
i-Activsense Tech package is $1920

Insurance companies vary in awareness of these technologies. And then the IIHS crash ratings for CX-3 have yet to be published as well.

I heard the Mazdaspeed rumors. Intriguing to say the least. Have to wonder what will be discussed at the autumn auto shows.
 

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Yesterday I went and actually test-drove the CX-3 (GT version). I tested a Mazda3 with it. They did NOT have a 2.5l engine with manual transmission, but they did have a 2.5l with auto. I tested the Mazda3 first, and then the CX-3 (I have previously test drives Mazda3s but they were all manual trannies).

Transmission:
First of all, I did NOT like the auto transmission on the 3. UGH. It never seemed to know what gear it should be in and seemed like it was always hunting. I put it in sport mode, and upshifting was better. It kept the revs longer, but then shifted fairly appropriately. However, it did not know when to shift properly when you relaxed on the gas pedal. I would let off the gas and coast and the engine was still revving high for a second or two!!! When I just eased off the gas, the revs remained high for too long and I found myself either switching it back to normal mode, or just taking my foot off of the gas and waiting for it to shift properly.

By comparison, the manual transmission in the CX-3, mated with it's 2.0l engine was MUCH better behaved. Based on this alone, if I were going to go for an automatic transmission I would either go for the iGT instead of the s (assuming that it behaved more like the CX-3) or just go with the CX-3. Doesn't matter to me though, if I go with a Mazda3, I'm getting a manual transmission. Sport mode suffered the same faults here though, and the button for sport mode is in a MUCH LESS convenient place than on the 3. On the 3 it is in a pretty natural place, on the CX-3 it is downright awkward.

Handling:
The Mazda3 handled pretty much like I expected it to: its ok. I guess you can't expect too much more from a FWD car :( I have had RWD cars for the past 20 years. This kind of light, not tight handling is going to take some getting used to. The CX-3 handled much better than I expected. I mean compared to the Honda HR-V, this thing handles like a BMW! It is such a drastic difference, and the CX-3 blows away the HR-V in handling. For the type of car the CX-3 is, it handled a little better than I had expected, which was a nice surprise. It didn't handle as well as the 3, but it was reasonably close. Give the CX-3 a lower center of gravity and it might handle better than the 3. The handling is probably the biggest let-down on these cars, though I imagine it compares favorably to other FWD cars.

Noise:
The CX-3 is definitely quieter than the 3. However, I found that most of the road noise from the 3 came from the floor. IOW, not so much wind noise, but rather road and engine noise. It is still quieter than my G35. I would guess that some relief can be brought about via sheets of sound dampening material placed under the floor mats (not sound deadening like you see on the walls in studios - that deadens the reflections but not pass through - IOW it alleviates issues with sound bouncing off of the walls, but not sound passing THROUGH the walls. You gotta make sure you get the right stuff.)

Acceleration:
Typical. It was OK in the 2.5l 3 (remember I am coming from a 6 cyl, 285 hp engine). Not spectacular, but what I am most concerned about is does it have enough torque to get you out of trouble on the highway should you have to gun it in order to get out of trouble, pass someone, or merge from a lane that is ending when an 18 wheeler doesn't want you to. It's enough for that, but not a ton more. The CX-3 was a bit sluggish with that 2.0l and the extra weight. Was it enough to get you out of trouble? For MOST circumstances, yes, but just barely. And I mean *JUST*. I didn't really expect much more though, out of a mini SUV.

Comfort and room:
It is worth noting that I am 6' tall, and just under 200lbs. I'm a medium to big-framed guy, not a skinny guy with lots of fat. The CX-3 is definitely smaller inside. It is cozy. From a driver's comfort perspective, you don't notice much that it is tight. The seat is really comfortable (moreso than the 3's seat). I wouldn't want it any more narrow though. You feel properly held in place, and it is just a comfy seat. IDK why they didn't do power seats for this car. That just seems stupid. The 3s seat actually has less padding under the butt, and it is just not as cushy. That could be a concern if you spend up to 4 hrs a day commuting like I do (thanks Atlanta traffic!). Perhaps the 2016 3 will have seats more like the CX-3? The 3 I drove was a 2015 model. Driving position, with your legs stretched out more, is more comfy in the 3. I prefer lower seating with legs stretched out, so the 3 is a winner there, though I didn't notice anything uncomfortable related to that on the CX-3. I just think on a really long drive, my legs might be wanting to stretch out more. YMMV. In the 3 my right arm fell naturally on the center console arm rest with my hand by the shifter, even w/ the salesman's arm resting on it as well. It was very natural feeling. On the CX-3 that arm rest is very skinny. Not like on a commercial jet, but there wasn't enough room for 2 elbows on it. While the height is good and natural for the seating position, it is short. If you have drinks, you have to take your arm off of the arm rest and lift it to get at the drinks which kinda blows. Another thing I noticed, which I did not pay attention to in the 3, is the rest on the door. The arm rest there is a bit low (just like my G35 - too low for me), and the window sill is really high. My G35 has a high window sill, but I have gotten used to it and using it as an arm rest. The one in the CX-3 is even higher. My left arms was constantly looking for a place to rest... hunting, just like the 2.5l auto transmission! :p I believe a bit of the more "cramped" feeling in the CX-3 is also due to the design of the passenger dash. It kinda bows out into the passenger area, and makes the car seem smaller than it already is.

Oh yeah, the A/C in the 3 is WAY better than the AC in the CX-3. Important here in Georgia. In the CX-3 I had the air coming out of the round vent, but the center vent, no matter how you aimed it, you couldn't feel any air much past 8 inches away from the vent. :( The AC/vents in the CX-3, to me, seemed lacking. No need to say much about the back seats. a good bit less legroom in the rear of the CX-3 than the 3. The cargo space is the same way.

So at this point, what does the CX-3 have going for it (IMHO) over the 3? The looks, both exterior and interior. The interior looks looks nicer to me than the 3, but the interior is also more cramped in the CX-3, and the A/C vents suck, all as a result of the design. I'd call it a tie on the interior. The CX-3 is just better looking than either of the 3 models. Other than that, I think the 3 has everything else going for it.

In the end, because I spend so much time in traffic, I think the 3 is going to be the car for me. Less cramped and more comfy interior, better gas mileage, and a better driving experience if I go manual (I'm OK with a manual in traffic. My friend thinks I'm crazy for getting one with my commute, but I did it for 10 years in my BMW, and when I went automatic for my G35, I was disappointed not to have the stick). Better A/C, and apparently the 2016 will have a better Bose sound system than the CX-3 as well. For long trips and commutes, the only thing negative for the 3 is the amount of cushion in the seat as compared to the CX-3 and hopefully (fingers crossed) that will be better in the 2016 than the 2015(?). I will say though, that Mazda doesn't make the choice easy. You can't lose with either car. I only wish I could wait & see if the mid-2016 Mazda Speed 3 rumors come true or not, but it will be hard enough waiting however long to get my car ordered.
 

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Be careful when reading posts that the CX-3 (or any model for that matter) about assuming it is equipped the same in your market.
Radar cruise for example and SBS missing, not available. (Only SCBS is some markets in Tech package).
To avoid disappointment after purchase, have a good look at the brochure in your market (country) to see what is actually included.
 

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brain21 --

I read your comparison a few times. Agree on many things. Kind of jealous of the new Bose set-up in the 2016 M3 and scratching my head why they didn't include it in the 2016 GT CX-3 (cost? space?).

Sounds like the CX-3 you rode in might have had an HVAC issue. The Touring I test drove last week blew air strongly through all vents.

None of the 2015 Mazda 3 S hatchbacks I've rode or just sat in had great leg room in the back seats. Is it a few inches more than the CX-3 back seats? Dang.

4-hour commute per day? Don't you swells out in Berkeley Lake have drivers in private cars take you downtown and back?

I would give the CX-3 the nod for rear-view blind spot visibility of the 3 hatch. C& D column just way too wide in the 3 hatch. CX-3 noticeably, but not significantly better.
 

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brain21 --

None of the 2015 Mazda 3 S hatchbacks I've rode or just sat in had great leg room in the back seats. Is it a few inches more than the CX-3 back seats? Dang.

4-hour commute per day? Don't you swells out in Berkeley Lake have drivers in private cars take you downtown and back?

I would give the CX-3 the nod for rear-view blind spot visibility of the 3 hatch. C& D column just way too wide in the 3 hatch. CX-3 noticeably, but not significantly better.
Yeah, the 3 has a couple of inches more room in the back, and it makes a significant difference. I go from having to put my knees on either side of the seat in front of me in the CX-3 because there is no room, to being able to sit with my knees in front of me like a normal person in the 3. I will very rarely have someone in the back of the car, so that isn't a huge issue for me, but you know when you try it out you gotta sit in all the seats!

Ha! I wish I lived in Berkeley Lake; then I would only have a 20-30 minute commute with traffic! As it is I live halfway between my office and Alabama. The commute to work on a good day with no traffic is about 50 minutes, but it has taken me about 3 hours before (3hrs, 15 minutes is the current record). The commute home is almost always 90+ minutes, sometimes over 2 hrs.

Speaking of pillars, I noticed that the A pillars in the CX-3 seemed fairly thick and was annoying at first. Eventually I got used to it - maybe 5 minutes into the test drive.
 

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Yeah, the 3 has a couple of inches more room in the back, and it makes a significant difference. I go from having to put my knees on either side of the seat in front of me in the CX-3 because there is no room, to being able to sit with my knees in front of me like a normal person in the 3. I will very rarely have someone in the back of the car, so that isn't a huge issue for me, but you know when you try it out you gotta sit in all the seats!

Ha! I wish I lived in Berkeley Lake; then I would only have a 20-30 minute commute with traffic! As it is I live halfway between my office and Alabama. The commute to work on a good day with no traffic is about 50 minutes, but it has taken me about 3 hours before (3hrs, 15 minutes is the current record). The commute home is almost always 90+ minutes, sometimes over 2 hrs.

Speaking of pillars, I noticed that the A pillars in the CX-3 seemed fairly thick and was annoying at first. Eventually I got used to it - maybe 5 minutes into the test drive.
I prefer to test drive a vehicle in varying trims at least 2 times each with different salespeople or at different dealers. The 2016 Mazda 3s will most likely be at dealers well after I get the CX-3.

We can all agree that rear seat-wise the CX-3 is at essence a coupe whereas the 3 is just barely a sedan.

As bad as the traffic is around Atlanta I gotta say the DWI on weekends is worse. The police roadblocks have probably saved a few lives.
 

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Discussion Starter #57
I prefer to test drive a vehicle in varying trims at least 2 times each with different salespeople or at different dealers. The 2016 Mazda 3s will most likely be at dealers well after I get the CX-3.

We can all agree that rear seat-wise the CX-3 is at essence a coupe whereas the 3 is just barely a sedan.

As bad as the traffic is around Atlanta I gotta say the DWI on weekends is worse. The police roadblocks have probably saved a few lives.
2016 3s are at local dealers now.
 

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2016 3s are at local dealers now.

At -some- dealers. Not out by me just yet. Cars.com is showing local stock that hasn't even made port yet.

Anyway, we anxiously await your test drive review.
 

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Discussion Starter #59 (Edited)
At -some- dealers. Not out by me just yet. Cars.com is showing local stock that hasn't even made port yet.

Anyway, we anxiously await your test drive review.
Reviewed the 2015 3 some time ago. I think changes are limited to trim/option package changes for 2016.



This is a reposting from "Apples and Oranges"
Since I have no access to a CX-3, I used a Mazda 3 as a substitute, thinking it MIGHT be similar in character to coming CX-3

The only commonality here is me. I own a CX-5, cross shopping a HRV and a Mazda 3 both of which I test drove within 15 minutes of one another this afternoon.

First let me say I am probably not the typical HRV prospective owner, in that I do not place the HRV'S strongest attribute , it's ability to carry a lot in a small shell,as my number one priority. For me a car must first be fun to drive , but if it isn't well packaged and economical its not for me either.If you reverse those priorities the HRV makes a much stronger case for itself, so my take will differ from others, just wanted you to know where I am coming from.
Both the 3 and CRv were mid level trim examples; the 3 was touring model equipped with bose/sunroof package and the HRV was a EX with a sunroof.
Both stickered between 22 and 23 grand. The 3 was a 6sp auto the HRV a fwd cvt.

The HRV was deep red (blood?) my favorite shade. The Mazda red available is a candy apple type they have the nerve to bill an extra 300 bucks for.

First drove the Mazda. Cloth interior was black with tan inserts in the door panels and seats. I loved it. The quality of materials and styling were excellent and I actually prefer it to the 2 tone gray/black leather aftermarket interior in my CX-5 touring. The door panels, dash and seats were uniformly excellent. Maybe my favorite cloth interior ever, better than my friends GTI for example.(imo)

Front seat supportive and comfortable with just the right firmness for me. Driving position perfect.

One big negative; Instruments; In this mid level model the tach is a small odd shaped instrument to the left of the central speedo hard to read at a glance. At 5'10", I sat behind myself with no problem,my knees 2 or 3 inches from the front seat backs and enough headroom. Could have used a bit more thigh support though, in this regard my 06 model was better.

Driving:Not a hot rod, just enough power to get out on the freeway without drama, about the same as my much heavier but more powerful CX-5, but with a smoother revving, happier engine note. As expected it handles better than the CX-5 Steering was a bit light for my taste, but otherwise terrific.

Wind noise was not noticeable at freeway speeds on this calm day.
It was fun to drive.

The bad news. Road noise. Too much A lot more than my CX which I consider to be just tolerable.

As much as I otherwise loved this car, its a deal killer. Already been down the that road with my 06 3.Ain't goin back.

HRV.
Interior gives off a general vibe of mediocrity , nothing to love or hate, except maybe the hard plastic dash cover. Driving position is good, and the seats OK, but not up to the standard of the ones in the 3.

I do prefer the Honda instrument display, traditional and functional.
Too bad this advantage is more than outweighed by the attention grabbing touch screen used for climate controls.

No problem sitting behind myself, with 2 or 3 extra inches of knee to seatback clearance compared the the 3 . About the same as in my CX-5.

The comfort levels in the back seats of all three cars is close to the same, but the 3 lacks rattle room. I could sit in any any of them for a couple of hours though all could use improvements in shape and padding.

The Drive.
The handling is tight and responsive, cornering flat and stable, but steering is too light, lighter than either Mazda, with a slower ratio and less feel.
On a 1 to 10 scale for handling, I give the HRV a 6.5, same as the CX-5 and the 3 a 8.5.

Pulling out on the freeway, the deal killer.
The engine has to be whipped to accomplish any appreciable acceleration, and sounds strained and unpleasant.. Its fine while cruising.
Road noise is Ok, about the same as the CX and a lot quieter than the 3.

Wind noise seems lower in both the 3 and HRV than the CX-5. I would need more time under varying conditions to confirm that.

To sum up my impressions;

The 3 is a great car torpedoed by its road noise.
The HRV is an average car torpedoed by its weak drivetrain.

I'll keep looking hoping the CX-3 road noise is tolerable.

After the test drive the HRV salesman asked me what I thought. I told him it was ok but underpowered. To my astonishment, he agreed.
 

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I have a 2014 3 hatchback manual. It is a GREAT car. The back seats are always folded down just to carry groceries and two dogs and there's almost as much space back there as our 2014 Jeep Cherokee 4x4. The shifting is fantastic, the steering is tight, the technology is wonderful and the entertainment system is spectacular. I agree with your assessment of the ac, fantastic. The only downside for me is the lack of AWD in the northeast winters. That's why I am seriously considering making a swap for a CX3, which I still need to test. You make a lot of good points in your test. I'm sure the cx3 will work for me because in many ways its a lot like the 3, except for the automatic (id rather have manual) and the AWD (that I want.)
 
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