Mazda Brings New CX-3 City SUV to LA Auto Show

Japanese entry playing against an increasingly crowded field.

by on Nov.19, 2014

Mazda's new CX-3 will be about five inches shorter than the maker's current CX-5 model.

Mazda is the latest player to enter the fast-emerging and increasingly crowded market for so-called city SUVs with the launch of its new CX-3 crossover.

It’s one of the globe’s fastest-growing segments, and it’s also gaining traction in the U.S. market where these pint-sized multi-purpose vehicles barely even existed five years ago.

Think of the CX-3 as “”a vehicle to suit the customer’s creative lifestyle in any scene, from inner-city driving to enjoying the great outdoors,” Mazda noted as it took the covers off the new crossover during a Los Angeles Auto Show preview Tuesday night.

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Sharing its basic underpinnings with the earlier Mazda2 hatchback, the 2015 CX-3 is the fifth new Mazda model to adopt the maker’s SkyActiv technology and its Kodo “Soul of Motion” design language. That translates into heavily sculpted body panels and a bold, 5-pointed front grille with integrated headlamps.

The CX-3 features a blacked-out D-pillar – giving it a floating roof look — and black cladding over the wheel arches. There’s a black chin spoiler and body-colored mirrors. Though smaller than the current CX-5 – also set for an LA Auto Show update – the new crossover has a sportier, more dynamic stance.

U.S. buyers will have a 2.0-liter inline-four paired to a 6-speed automatic, with optional AWD.

The new Mazda CX-3 measures about 10 inches shorter than the current CX-5, at 101.2 inches, and it is 3 inches narrower and five inches lower.

(Toyota’s new hydrogen car to launch in December – but Honda is delaying its fuel-cell vehicle. Click Here for the latest.)

The 2015 CX-3 crossover is powered by Mazda SkyActiv 2.0-liter inline-four engine. The maker isn’t yet revealing specific details like horsepower and torque, nor is it saying whether the engine is exactly the same as the one that will power the American version of the new 2016 Mazda Miata.

In U.S. trim, the Mazda CX-3 will be sold only with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. Drivers in other markets will also have the choice of a six-speed manual transmission.

Front-drive is the standard configuration, with Mazda also offering an optional all-wheel-drive package that is designed to sense and reduce front wheel slippage on slick road surfaces.

(Click Here for a look at the new Honda HR-V City SUV.)

A look inside the new Mazda CX-5.

Sales of utility vehicles, in general, are growing three times faster than the overall global automotive market. And it has become an increasingly diverse segment, with entries ranging from pocket-sized to barge-like. But the subcompact crossover niche has been one of the fastest-growing, especially in markets like Europe and Japan, where fuel prices are high and streets are crowded.

The segment’s appeal is based on a balance of aggressive design, functionality and fuel economy, analysts suggest.

Whatever the reason, new entries are arriving at an ever quicker pace, and there are few brands that haven’t already entered the City SUV niche – or who haven’t got an entry scheduled. Mazda’s key competitors will range from the likes of the Nissan Juke, an early arrival, to the new Mercedes-Benz GLA, at the high end of the segment.

Jeep debuted its new offering, the Renegade, earlier this year, while sister division Fiat will reveal the new 500X City SUV at the LA Auto Show. Also making a first appearance will be Honda’s entry, the HR-V, which will slot in below that maker’s current entry-level ute, the CR-V.

(Ford shows off new Explorer update at LA Auto Show. Click Here to check it out.)

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