The Mazda CX-3 is the cutest ‘cute-ute’ — and the perfect first car

And so, how does the CX-3 drive?

And so, how does the CX-3 drive?

Matthew DeBord/BI

Believe it or not, I’ve driven the CX-3 on an actual race track. And it was tons of fun. I was using all of its 146 horsepower and carving up the corners with gusto. Was I going fast? Not really. The 0-60 time is around 8 seconds.

But I was getting close to the top speed of 120 mph.

In normal driving, the CX-3 is just terrific. I motored around the suburbs of New Jersey and made several jaunts into New York City in the week I sampled the vehicle. The bottom line is that although you aren’t going to feel like you’re in a Lexus, you are inhabiting an experience that’s about 10,000 miles above what we used to endure with inexpensive cars.

True, the CX-3 optioned as fully as our tester wasn’t cheap. But you can get the cute ute for thousands less than what we would have paid for the top trim level if we decided we didn’t want to give the car back.

Everyone wants to know what makes a good car for a first-timer. You have a college kid who needs wheels, or you’re on your own and require transportation. If you want to buy new, the CX-3 offers a great package: peppy performance, good handling, most likely adequate poor-weather performance with the AWD system (although we didn’t get to test it out in snow and muck), and plenty of technology.

Importantly, the CX-3 also has five-star frontal and side-crash ratings from NHTSA, and a four-star rollover rating. So safety is excellent, always a concern with smaller vehicles.

The CX-3 would also be a dandy city car, with its wee scale and what we expect would be a low cost of operation, coupled with Mazda reliability. It would even be a fine choice for downsizers who don’t care much about a luxury level ride, performance, or appointments.

The bottom line is an easy call: If you’re looking for a perfect first car, the CX-3 won’t disappoint you.

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