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Driven: 2016 Mazda CX-3

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The Mazda CX-3 almost became a candidate for our 'Let Me Ride' department, since my roommate has been testing one the past couple months, and I have to say, it's much nicer when I can squeeze a few days of alone time instead of bugging him for a few minutes of shotgun.

Right off the bat, it looks to be a smaller CX-5 but it's strikingly different than its sibling, and in the ever-growing segment of crossovers in the market, the CX-3 is a vehicle worth considering.

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Though it gives off a small vibe from the outside, inside it's plenty roomy (mainly for the front passengers), topped off with Mazda's signature features all throughout, like the large center-positioned tachometer in the gauge cluster and info display unit on the top of the dashboard that's controlled by the main knob just behind the shift lever; alternatively, you can activate these features by using the touchscreen if the knob isn't your bag.

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Powered with a 146hp 2.0L Skyactiv-G engine, the CX-3 isn't blistering fast on a highway by any stretch of the imagination, but on local streets and roads that require thoughtful steering input, it handles tightly and is pleasantly maneuverable, feeling more sportscar-like than crossover. No manual transmission model offered but it does come in either a FWD or AWD configuration, and is great on gas savings.

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Though it's not likely to see these modified, it would be cool to see a CX-3 lowered slightly with a set of springs and matched to a set of lightweight aftermarket wheels and tires. Since it could use a hand in engine performance, a drop-in filter and more free-flowing exhaust would be all that's needed to improve it just that little bit.

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The 2016 Mazda CX-3 is available at dealerships now at a starting price of $19,960 (MSRP).

(Photos: Courtesy of Mazda)

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