Look, we really like the Nissan Juke. We love the way it drives and even the way it looks. We're weird that way. But Mazda may have just broken up our tawdry love affair with our favorite four-wheeled freak with the 2016 Mazda CX-3.
We'll be the first to admit that mini-CUVs don't get our heartrate much above shoved-in-an-ice-locker-with-Rosie-O'Donnell. There are exceptions, including the new Jeep Renegade and the aforementioned Juke, but the CX-3 has the potential to deliver something rarely seen in the segment: proper fun.
It's based on the underpinnings of the Mazda2, and looks like the current CX-5 left in the dryer for 20 minutes too long and then given a proper pressing with starch. That's not a bad thing. It's got the same flared fenders, packs 18-inch wheels in its top-spec trim, and that blacked out D-pillar gives a cool wrap-around effect to the hatch. It's about 8.5 inches longer than the 2 and around 3 inches wider, with a wheelbase that's around five inches shorter than the Mazda3.
The same 2.0-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder as the 3 sends power to the front wheels, although all-wheel-drive will be an option (likely a modified version of the system in the CX-5). Mazda isn't saying what the four-pot is putting out, but something in the neighborhood 155 horsepower and around the same amount of torque is a solid guess.
The interior gets the iPad-stuck-on-the-dash treatment, with a rotary knob controlling functions, and there's a suite of safety systems in the form of Mazda's i-Activsense, which should include lane-departure warning, blind-spot detection, and radar-based collision warnings.
But what we won't get is a manual. A six-speed automatic will be the only available option in the U.S., despite Mazda teasing us at tonight's reveal with this:
No matter. The auto 'box is one of the better on the market and there's no doubt the take-rate for the manual would've been a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent. Still, why tease us Mazda? But we'll let you make it up to us. We're thinking AWD, turbocharged 2.3-liter, and this: CX-3speed. Until then, we'll wait to drive the standard version before it goes on sale this summer.