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Of all the Japanese car companies I have dealt with, no other brand has given me as much extensive access to their inner workings as Mazda. I’ve had a lot of track-time with prototypes of their upcoming models over the last few years, visited their factories in Kulim, Malaysia and in Hiroshima, Japan and even got a deeper appreciation of the Mazda Spirit, thanks to visits to the Mazda Museum and attending the 30th Anniversary Roadster Meet last year. I’ve also built lasting relationships with many executives from both their regional and head office. Mazda has successfully kept the small, accessible organization feel playing with the big boys. 

It was no surprise then that when my wife decided to upgrade toa bigger car, we naturally looked at Mazdas, particularly a base-model CX-3 2.0 SkyActiv G FWD. The size was good, fits in our tiny garage and offered more space than her previous subcompact. We chose the entry-level variant because of budget, reflecting many typical car-buyer’s constraints. 

Our CX-3 came with fabric seats, manual A/C, 16-inch wheelsand halogen headlamps. But most importantly for my wife, it came with a reverse camera, ABS-EBD brakes and multiple airbags for safety. It also comes as standard with an amazing gem of an engine: the SkyActiv G 2.0 gasoline engine delivering148hp and 195 Newton-Meters of torque driving the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine is punchy, responsive and gutsy. In the city, fuel consumption varied from 6.7 kilometers to 8.9 kilometers per liter. Considering my wife stays well within Metro Manila 99% of the time, I’d say fuel consumption was actually very good. Of the few times we’d take it to Tagaytay, we’d get a low of 14.6km/liter to as high as 17km/liter depending on the time of day / night and traffic conditions. Suffice to say, the CX-3 is the most fuel-efficient vehicle we have ever owned, right-sized for our needs. The Jinba Ittai ethos is very real in the CX-3: you feel wired into it. It’s perfect for a fast drive and can tackleswitchbacks and winding roads with gusto. Steering is perfectly weighted and the CX-3 feels light, lithe and agile overall. It was perfectly comfortable in traffic too. Many of the so-called sports sedans costing many times more should take the cue from Mazda’s playbook. 

The ANC Group-owned Mazda Pasig released our unit and handled our YOJIN3 PMS and we knew we made a right choice: big bosses Anthony Cheng and Dr. Mike Tan, two of the majority partners of ANC Group were even on hand to turn-over our Mazda CX-3 to us two days after Valentine’s of 2018, making the CX-3 the sweetest and most memorable gift my wife has ever gotten. We’ve been very pleased with their after-salessince then, getting reminded a few days before our PMS window and working with us to accommodate and finish servicingquickly. We’ve never had any warranty-related concerns too, a testament to Mazda’s vastly improved reliability and durability. 

Being the tuning addict that I am, the CX-3 wouldn’t remain stock. Starting with the window tint, V-Kool’s well-priced OEM series provided medium shade to the front windows to match the rear privacy glass with a clear tint up front to reduce glare and UV light. For lighting, I’m a huge PIAA fan so I was glad when they presented a bolt-in HID upgrade that was better than the halogen lights. I also installed PIAA Superior Bass Horn because the OEM horns sounded weak and wimpy. The rear lower bumper reflectors were replaced with LED lamps which had a turn-signal / hazard function that increased visibility the CX-3’s visibility to others at night. Another concern was that despite the CX-3 being an SUV, it was quite low, the long nose sometimes scraping on steep ramps. The solution? I found and ordered Tanabe’s UP210 lift springs on the popular Japanese online auction site Rinkya which gave the CX-3 the much-needed lift me and my wife were looking for, raising the CX-3 by over an inch and giving just the right amount of ground clearance. I also ordered Swage Line stainless steel brake lines to give the CX-3 better braking feel, filled up with Motul DOT4 brake fluid. With the CX-3 lifted, the 16’ wheels looked lonely in the wheel wells. Thankfully, ROTA Wheels had recentlyreleased their latest flow-formed wheels, in a massive 19-inch diameter finished in satin black. Shod with Westlake 255/40R19 tires, the CX-3 suddenly looked and felt very premium, adding a degree of sophistication to our base model CX-3. Our last bit of cosmetic upgrade was 5-inch carbon-fiber exhaust tips from Speed for Sale I ordered from KD Co, another online parts shop.An AEM cold-air intake was installed to improve power, torque and response a bit too. Husky Liners’ 4-piece all-weather mats from Auto Options were also put in to help keep the interior clean. I also ordered some CX-3 door sill scuff plates, CF trim and hood struts as the OEM steel hood was very heavy, so opening and closing the hood became far easier. Mikstore on Facebook supplied these last items. When Mazda Philippines offered the Apple CarPlay to be retrofitted into all previous compatible Mazdas, CX-3 also got it, proving to be an important driving aid. 

Our CX-3 has dispelled three major misconceptions that hounded the brand for years: that Mazdas are very thirsty on fuel, had poor after-sales and was very unreliable. It was the most driver-centric cross-over we’ve ever owned.  

Sadly, we’re letting the CX-3 go soon. My sister’s Mazda 3 hadpiled on considerable mileage and our family businesses requireus to travel constantly and regularly out of town carrying cargo and people. A regular sedan had no more place in our family garage. So my dad decided to sell the Mazda 3, and took us on our offer to let go of the CX-3 because of its excellent condition. I’m glad it will still be in our family garage and I will still get to see and maybe use it once in a while if the new owner allows me.

CX-3 had become an indispensable tool for me and my wife with so many adventures and misadventures with it. It was hard letting go.