Mazda’s pint-sized 2016 CX-3 looks to stand out from the compact crossover crowd

Small crossovers are becoming a big deal for carmakers. The success of models like the Buick Encore and Nissan Juke has led to a slew of competitors, including the upcoming Chevrolet Trax, Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V, and Jeep Renegade.

The segment’s getting awfully crowded awfully fast, but Mazda believes its 2016 CX-3 will still stand out. Unveiled at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, it puts the best of Mazda’s recent models in a tidier package.

The exterior features the same “Kodo” design theme seen on all of those recent Mazdas, with the same grille, headlights, and swooping lines that make the Mazda6, Mazda3, and CX-5 some of the best-looking vehicles in their respective segments.

The execution isn’t quite as elegant on the pint-sized CX-3, but it’s still pleasing to the eye.

2016 Mazda CX-3

Underneath the familial sheet metal is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine from Mazda’s efficiency-focused Skyactiv. Mazda isn’t disclosing performance figures yet, but this engine produces 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque in other models.

In the CX-3, it’s coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission, with front-wheel drive standard and all-wheel drive optional.

As with nearly everything else on the CX-3, interior design elements and tech carry over from its bigger siblings.

That includes a gauge cluster with a single dial flanked by two screens like you get on a Ferrari 458 Italia (and also a Ford Edge), an available head-up display, and a rotary control knob for the optional Mazda Connect infotainment system.

The 7.0-inch display screen for that system is tacked onto the dashboard, which is a bit unfortunate, but features include Bluetooth with hands-free texting and Aha app integration.

The 2016 Mazda CX-3 goes on sale in Japan in spring 2015, with U.S. sales to follow. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.

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