Mazda’s 2016 CX-3 looks exciting, but can it stand out in a jam-packed segment?

In the ever-growing compact crossover segment, it’s tough to stand out. There’s the spunky Kia Soul, the surprisingly capable Jeep Renegade, Honda’s versatile HR-V, and tons of others fighting for their slice of the pie.

Mazda’s upcoming CX-3 is one of the newest entrants to the class, and the brand has just released a slew of new details about the sharply angled five-door.

If you were around for the car’s photographic debut last November, its ‘Kodo’ design language will come as no surprise. The CUV wears the same basic front fascia layout as the Mazda3, Mazda6, CX-5 and CX-9, and the side profile is deliberately sculpted.

The CX-3 will hold less junk in the trunk than its larger ‘CX’ stablemates, and this accentuates the crossover’s long nose. Underneath that sniffer is a 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G four-cylinder that makes 146 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. That power is channeled through a mandatory six-speed automatic, and can be distributed by either front or all-wheel drive.

While the puffed-up hatchback is a bit lacking in performance, it makes up ground on the tech front. Bluetooth connectivity, a rear-view camera, and a ‘Mazda Connect’ infotainment system with seven-inch display come standard on the entry-level Sport model, while heated seats, a powered moonroof, ‘leatherette’ upholstery, and a seven-speaker Bose stereo come with the Touring versions.

The Grand Touring edition adds even more toys, including LED headlights and foglights, 18-inch alloys, and real leather/suede upholstery. Overall, the interior design is a tad asymmetrical, but we can roll with it.

Additionally, an optional ‘GT-iActivsense’ package is available, which tacks on automatic lights, rain-sensing wipers, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control to round out a respectable offering of tech for a car at this price point.

And just how much will it cost, you ask? Mazda hasn’t released official numbers yet, but promises the CX-3 will start in the “low $20,000s” when it goes on sale this fall.

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