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Test-drive stories by NITISH S. RELE,

2015 HONDA CR-VSince its debut in 1989, more than 950,000 units of the “Best-Selling Two-Seater Sports Car” have been sold. With a total redesign for its 2016 model, we expect the Mazda Miata MX-5 to hit the 1 million mark fairly soon. Really, no tribute can be enough for the charmer. Even after 26 years (who’s counting?), top-down motoring enthusiasts have a blast going down the highway or tackling the daily driving rigors in this fine, tossable convertible.

Power is derived from a 2.0-liter DOHC inline-4 cylinder engine, which makes 155 hp (previous was 167 hp) at 6000 rpm and 148 pounds-feet of torque at 4600 rpm. The 6-speed manual delivers flawless shifts. Guiding the sprightly rear-wheel-drive car is a new double-pinion power-assist steering. The even-lighter soft top can be folded manually with little effort.

Recently, we had the opportunity to test drive this legend on the winding and hilly roads of southern California. It is more lighter (150 pounds) and fuel efficient (36/27 vs. 28/22 for AT), faster, with extra head and leg room. Starting at $24,915 (Sport), $28,600 (Club) and $30,065 (GT), the Mazda marketing folks pointed out that it is more affordable when counted for inflation. We will take their word for it.

Exterior tweaks include extensive use of the stiffer high-tensile steel, longer hood with the windshield pushed back, shorter roof, lowered nose and hood height, enhanced trapezoidal stance, tapered rear fenders and inward-pushed LED headlights that convey a piercing look. Step into the cabin and the driver now drops farther down and closer to the car center, expanded head space and a smaller steering wheel with a boost in tilt range.

The revamped MX-5 transforms into an even more exhilarating and entertaining car to drive. Open-air motoring fans will be in awe of its snappy acceleration, impressive handling and admirable fuel economy. Cheers to the world’s best-selling roadster!



Leave it to Mazda to innovate and so now we have the all-new 2016 CX-3 subcompact SUV, slightly smaller than the compact sibling CX-5. A sole 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinder engine develops 146 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 146 pounds-feet of torque @ 2800 rpm while mated to a 6-speed auto gearbox. And whether you choose the front-wheel or all-wheel drive, it is equipped with the direct-injection Skyactiv, which uses a torque boost via a high compression ratio to increase fuel economy. EPA estimates are 29/35 mpg for FWD and 27/32 for AWD.

Taller than the compact Mazda3 sedan by 18 inches, the CX-3 shows off a long hood, short overhangs, and a seven-fin wing grille extending into halogen headlights. Standard amenities in the base model include push-button start, 60/40 fold rear seat, 6-way manual adjustable driver seat, a/c, power windows and door locks, cruise control, 7-inch instrument display with command control, trip computer and a tilt/telescopic steering column.

The CX-3 is available in base Sport ($19,960), Touring ($24,990) and Grand Touring ($28,160). Indeed, this fresh offering from Mazda is priced just right for the potential buyer – young couples/singles with active lifestyles. We expect the subcompact SUV to give the competition (Honda HR-V, Nissan Juke, Jeep Renegade, are you listening?) a run for the money!


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