Google Maps has a habit of changing your route midway when it finds one with less traffic, which is great. Most of the time, it works. The problem is that, more often than not, it takes you to places you never would’ve passed in a million years especially when you aren’t driving a car that you own - it can get quite frightening.
This day, though, is not about that. It is about that rare moment that everything comes into perfection for the photographer in me. This momentous day happened while we had the all new Mazda CX-3 in Soul Red.
It couldn’t have been better.
Perfect skies, lush greens, empty roads, a shed out of nowhere, a lone person selling buko (coconut) juice for travelers wanting to quench their thirst under the midday sun. It was definitely a scene that came out of your imagination while reading a picturesque novel or one you would see in a Hollywood flick thanks to the hours of hard work brought to us by the location scout who never gets applauded for his work.
What wasn't perfect was the lack of a proper parking space. It wasn't an issue, though, for the small crossover my family had on this trip - think Mazda3 on steroids wearing platform shoes. That's exactly what the CX-3 felt like. It had the engine response and agility of its smaller brother, with the addition of all wheel drive and a higher ride height.
Styled to stand apart
The CX-3, despite its height, is strikingly beautiful unlike many small crossovers that look like they'd tip over if you gave it some fuel on a curved road. This is thanks to Mazda's well balanced design that somehow makes very well proportioned lines despite adding height to an already great form. Long bonnet, check! Short overhangs, check! Obviously, designers in Mazda don't cut corners just to roll out new vehicles.
More space inside so you can do more outside
The main advantage of crossovers is interior space. On this weekend trip with the CX-3, I had the company of my wife and two daughters. Women, in my opinion, like to bring their closets and then some. That is probably the reason why I personally own a crossover and an SUV. If I had a choice, I'd definitely pick a two-door sports car instead of our crossover, but good luck with that. Fortunately for the girls in my life, the CX-3 has enough space for all their excess baggage.
And good for me, all that space didn't come at the expense of losing the sporty refinement that today's Mazda is known for - except when driving on uphill twisty roads where torque on the low end of the rpm range was necessary. In that situation, the CX-3's automatic transmission got confused and just allowed the engine to make some noise in first gear all the way to the top. Hopefully, Mazda gives it more juice in the near future.
Another it did lack was legroom for co-founder of Opus Macchina, six foot plus tall Enzo, who found his legs quite uncomfortable in the backseat. To add legroom to this small crossover, Mazda can either shorten the bonnet, shrink the boot, or lengthen the CX-3 - all of which I don't agree with. Better yet, Mazda can just forget about the Enzos of the world and offer them the CX-5 instead.
After a pleasurable drive and photo shoot along the rural areas of the south, it was time to go back home to the metro, and that meant one thing - traffic. This is where I reacquainted myself with Mazda's infotainment system. It isn't the champion of menu system design, but I have to admit, it is quite easy to get the hang of - pretty intuitive in my opinion.
Connecting your smartphone is possible via Bluetooth, USB, and aux in. Oh, how those Bose speakers sound is magnificent especially in a car that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. As long as you don't expect deep bass that shakes your skin off the rest of you, the clarity, brightness, and warmth of the audio system is one you may opt to keep stock with a big smile on your face.
As I drove the CX-3 to my garage, I was reminded of the day's experience. The car was very easy to shoot - there were hardly any odd-looking angles. The car was easy to drive - I wasn't exhausted after a whole day of driving. Would I buy one? Um, maybe. Would I buy one if it were a diesel? Certainly! I've driven the Mazda6 SkyActiv-D and the torque and engine response was simply sublime.
Hopefully, Mazda brings their magnificent diesel powerplants to their smaller vehicles in the near future.
If and when that happens, I know what my next daily drive crossover will be.
Ex-Public Highway Racer