As the auto segment goes through its latest transformation, seeing consumers flock to crossovers at the expense of more traditional car models, Mazda is demonstrating the importance of utility vehicles to its success as it rolls out updates to its subcompact CX-3 for the second year in a row.
For 2019, the CX-3 gets a new grille, tail lights and wheels on the outside, while its interior gains improved materials, new seats and a centre console designed around a new electric parking brake switch that displaces last year's mechanical pull handle.
As before, power comes from a 2.0L four-cylinder engine, but with revisions to improve refinement and efficiency while adding a nominal 2 hp for a new total of 148, while torque remains at 146 lb-ft.
An entry-level GX trim comes with FWD and a six-speed manual transmission, a combo limited to that base model. A six-speed auto is optional and opens the door to the addition of AWD.
Mid-range GS trim starts out at as automatic front-driver that can also be optioned to AWD.
The top-end GT is now standard with AWD and, again, the automatic.
Other changes include the addition of blind spot monitoring to the basic GX package, and the GT can now be optioned with real leather seating in place of last year's optional leatherette. GT models also now come standard with the features that last year were part of an optional Technology package.
The CX-3 is Mazda's rival to cars like the Honda HR-V and newer models like Nissan's Kicks and Qashqai. Mazda's entry finds itself at the small end of the spectrum, with a snug interior and a back seat best suited to occasional use. But, typical of Mazda, the CX-3 is one of the more fun-to-drive entries in this class, especially following last year's addition of the manual transmission to the base trim.
GX standard features this year include tire pressure monitoring, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, 16-inch steel wheels, power windows, door locks and mirrors, air conditioning and push-button start.
GS trim adds alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, heated steering wheel, automatic climate control, heated front seats, piano black interior trim and leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter and a new front passenger seat height adjustment.
GS options include the i-Activesense active safety suite of radar cruise control, smart brake support, forward pedestrian detection and obstruction warning, automatic high beams and adaptive and auto-leveling LED headlights.
GT trim includes all GS standard and optional kit and adds 18-inch wheels, Bose stereo, traffic sign recognition, LED fog lights, navigation, passive keyless entry, 10-way power driver's seat, leather upholstery and suede door trim inserts.
Mazda's engine updates bring tiny improvements to the CX-3's fuel consumption estimates, which are now 8.3/6.9 L/100 km (city/highway) for the FWD/automatic combo, 8.8/7.0 for the FWD/stickshift and 8.6/7.4 for the AWD automatic pairing.