2016 Mazda CX-3

2016 Mazda CX-3

Episode 3507 , Episode 3519
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

As crossover utilities shrink ever smaller, they’re looking less like a blend of family car and a SUV, and more like pumped five-door hatchbacks with available all-wheel drive. Case in point, this Mazda CX-3. It’s a good looking subcompact ute. But, in its quest for popular style, is utility no longer its strongest point?

To their credit, Mazda calls the 2016 CX-3 their ultimate “urban escape vehicle”. A combination of small car attributes necessary for city-dwellers; like a Mazda3 hatchback; with enough crossover elements for weekend adventures and all-weather security.

Going up against the likes of Honda HR-V, Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade, and Chevrolet Trax; four subcompact utes that weren’t even available here a year ago, gives you an idea of how rapidly this segment is expanding.

Built on a new SKYACTIV chassis to be shared with the next Mazda2, the CX-3 is tidy indeed.  Every interior dimension is less than the Mazda3. And while outside it is certainly taller, ground clearance is the same at 6.1-inches.

Of course you can’t get all-wheel-drive in the Mazda3. 

Now whether all-4 or just the front-2 wheels are in play, power comes from the MX-5’s SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter I4. Here putting out 146-horsepower and 146 lb-ft. of torque, with a 6-speed automatic transmission your only option. 

One thing is clear, and that is that the CX-3 is easily the most stylish of the new breed of cute utes. It looks long, low, lean, and much more muscular than bigger brother CX-5. 

In the front, the face is familiar Mazda territory, but they seem to be pushing the boundaries of the grille ever farther. And the slanted rear roof, with tight hind quarters, doesn’t help much with convincing us that this is a crossover and not a hatchback. 

At our test track, there was a snappy throttle and eagerness at launch, but the CX-3 runs out of steam fairly quickly; taking us 8.6-seconds to hit 60. To be fair, that’s on par with the Jeep Renegade we tested. And, the CX-3 gives you all it’s got down the strip sounding good while doing it. 

Shifts are prompt and positive, and there was even a touch of torque steer as we worked our way to a 16.7-second ¼-mile at 83 miles-per-hour. 

Throughout handling exercises, there was certainly a fun, sporty Mazda-style character. But, while still far from a sports car, there’s a nice balance and steering response is quick, putting most other tiny trucksters to shame. 

We were expecting a little more from the brakes however, than a 133-foot stopping average from 60 and an overall soft feel. 

Fittingly, the interior is driver-oriented, with an almost premium feel to materials and surfaces that again put it above most rivals. The control layout looks simple enough, yet still managed to befuddle some of our staffers. 

Ergonomics are also not great for full-size adults; plus we found console space minimal and cup holders difficult to access easily. Moreover, it can be at times a very noisy environment. 

Continuing our list of gripes, cargo space is minimal, just 10.1 cubic-ft. behind the rear seats if there’s a Bose subwoofer in place; that’s ½ the space of a Mazda3 hatchback. Folding the seats expands the space, getting the numbers closer to the Mazda3’s at 44.5 cubic-ft. 

The load floor is also very high. It might not have been as noticeable had we not had an HR-V in at the same time which has a much lower load floor and double the amount of rear cargo space.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel-drive CX-3 are 27-City, 32-Highway, and 29-Combined, which we almost reached at 28.8 miles-per-gallon of Regular. So the Energy Impact Score is much better than average, with oil consumption at 11.4-barrels yearly and CO2 emissions of 5.0-tons. 

Pricing starts at $20,840; and since we’re doing so much comparing here, a Mazda3 starts about a grand lower, though top Grand Touring trims are priced very similar.   

In the end, we know why Mazda commissioned the CX-3. Everything crossover is selling like mad while traditional car sales continue to sag. Still, when it comes to actual utility, a well done compact five-door hatchback, like a Mazda3, Ford Focus, or the new Honda Civic, beats the CX-3, and all other tiny utes, in everything except traction.

But, if you gotta hang with the crowd, then the 2016 Mazda CX-3 is one fun, city size utility, that’s rarin’ to go. 


  • Engine: 2.0 liter
  • Horsepower: 146
  • Torque: 146 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 8.6 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 16.7 seconds @ 83 mph
  • EPA: 27 mpg city/ 32 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 11.4 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 5.0 tons/yr
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 3/4 Front

2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35

Goldilocks Approved: It Does Everything Just Right

Episode 4332
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

These days, you don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money to get some real-deal AMG performance from Mercedes-Benz, as they’ve spread their high-performance love throughout their lineup. So, let’s go for some high-speed bargain hunting in the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35.

You may think of big cars and bigger horsepower when you hear AMG, but this updated 2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 4-door Coupe is certainly not a big car, yet there’s no doubt it packs a serious performance punch. The CLA is not the least expensive Mercedes you can currently buy in the U.S., but it is their lowest priced car, and it feels more right-size than small-size behind the wheel.

It’s a fun, enjoyable ride that lets you know what you’re in for right away with a nice raspy exhaust note at start up. Standard engine in the base CLA 250 is of course a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo, but it is ‘Benz’s latest with mild-hybrid assistance and a rating of 221-horsepower.

This CLA 35 is one of two AMG versions which cranks the turbo up to boost output to 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque; the CLA 45 S, goes even further with a full rebuild to crank it up to 416 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. The CLA is front-wheel-drive based but is sending power to all four wheels by the time it leaves the AMG shop with performance-tuned AMG 4MATIC.

2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Dead Front
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Grille
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 3/4 Front
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Profile
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Wheel
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Dead Rear
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 3/4 Rear
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Badge
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Badge 2
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Dead Front2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Grille2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 3/4 Front2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Profile2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Wheel2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Dead Rear2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 3/4 Rear2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Badge2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Badge 2

AMG has done serious suspension tuning as well, and the great feedback that it provides through the AMG Performance steering wheel is a big part of this car’s fun-factor. But our test car came equipped with winter tires, which did hold us back a little bit through the cones at our Mason Dixon test track. Still, it felt both agile and fun and body roll was minimal. Not until we pushed hard could we really feel the lack of dry pavement grip from those tires. On the other hand, a few days after track day, we actually did have some winter weather to drive through and then we were very appreciative of the grip those winter tires provided.

With some assistance from AMG’s sweet launch control, which not only allowed us to launch at 3500 RPM with no wheel slip at all, but made sure the turbos were feeding full power, as we felt no turbo lag whatsoever on our quick 4.5-second trip to 60. AMG’s Speedshift eight-speed DCT lived up to its name, delivering quick and hard hits throughout the 13.1-second, 104 mph quarter-mile.

It’s a fun, enjoyable ride that lets you know what you’re in for right away with a nice raspy exhaust note at start up.

When it came time to remove speed in a hurry in our panic runs from 60 mph, those winter tires again played a factor, as the brakes felt very strong and there was very little nosedive but stops took a longer than expected 125 feet.

Now this 2nd generation CLA arrived for 2020, and for ’24 gets a subtle restyling at both ends. At the front, the grille has been redesigned, AMGs getting their own unique version with big vertical slats, prominent Mercedes star and subtle AMG badge. LED headlights are new, now labeled as High-Performance headlights, joined by upgraded rear taillights and a very aggressive looking AMG diffuser with big exhaust outlets. The back-up camera is smoothly hidden in a flip-out Mercedes badge. Multiple new wheel designs are available with sizes up to 19-inches.

2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Passenger Side Front
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Dashboard
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Center Display 2
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Rear Seat
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Trunk
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Engine
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Passenger Side Front2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Dashboard2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Center Display 22024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Rear Seat2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Trunk2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Engine

Inside the CLA’s cabin, additional standard content includes a leather steering wheel and 10-inch media display. Both of which were already part of the AMG transformation, though AMG Line buyers can now add some heat elements to their sport steering wheel.

As we’ve seen with most Mercedes updates, both the virtual gauge cluster and the central touchscreen reside in a single housing mounted on top of the dash, upgraded with the latest MBUX software.

Pricing for the CLA 35 starts at $56,100, with the more powerful 45 S coming in at $66,550.

Bottom line, the folks in Stuttgart have given us a 2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 that’s clearly better without messing it up. That’s certainly good news to us, as these days we seem to be getting less and paying more for just about everything. So, while you might not think the new CLA 35 sounds like a bargain, there is no better gateway into the amazing world of AMG performance.


  • Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo
  • Horsepower: 416
  • 0-60 mph: 4.5 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 125 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 28.2 MPG (Premium)
  • Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch automatic
  • Torque: 369 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 13.1 seconds at 104 mph
  • EPA: 22 City / 29 Highway / 25 Combined