For anyone who thought Mazda’s CX-5 was as small as SUV’s needed to be, there is a surprise in the CX-3. Small crossovers, such as the Buick Encore, prove there is room to go smaller in the segment. The CX-3 draws on styling cues first presented by the fresh Mazda3 and Mazda6. SKYACTIVE-G is Mazda marketing lingo attached to the brand’s 2.0-liter gasoline engine that will be mated to a standard 6-speed automatic transmission. All wheel drive is optional and features a front wheel slip warning system that detects slippage of the front wheels and redirects the car to the intended direction based on initial driver input. Sounds to us like Mazda is spending a lot of investment in technology to make an all wheel drive car handle like it is rear wheel drive. It all sounds promising, but Americans will have to wait until fall to try the system out for themselves.
Audi is a brand long associated with all wheel drive, wagons, and hatchbacks. The refreshed-for-2016 Q3, then is a natural fit into the brand’s portfolio. The most noticeable update is to the grille, which Audi executives refer to as a ‘three-dimensional Singleframe grille.’ Whatever you call it, this apparently the new look for Audi’s signature oversized grille opening. Audi would like to draw your attention to the unseen in the form of a 17% reduction of CO2 emissions. We’re sure enthusiasts will be more interested to know that the Q3 offers powertrain ranging in horsepower from 120 to 220 in most markets. The top engine will be Audi’s 2.0L TFSI. Not a lot of power, we admit, but as the smallest of Audi’s crossover offerings there are plenty of more powerful (and larger) offerings. Expect to see the Q3 this fall in the US.
Volkswagen seems determined to convince America that the brand can provide precision German engineering while appeasing America’s desire for larger, more powerful vehicles. The Cross Coupe GTE concept is VW’s interpretation of just such a combination. Intended to preview the brand’s upcoming 7-seat crossover the Cross Coupe differs from that production model by hacking down the wagon portion of the green-house into something far less practical. To our eyes it still doesn’t look like a coupe but it seems that our friends in Wolfsburg are eager to associate themselves with such spectacularly low volume hardware as the Acura ZDX and BMW X6. Even if buyer’s aren’t willing to give the abbreviated crossover bodystyle another chance, we can expect the full-fledged 7-passenger version to wear the same square jawed face of the GTE concept. Production for the 7-seater begins in Chattanooga, TN by the end of 2016. The GTE is powered by a plug-in hybrid drivetrain which produces 276 horsepower by means of a 3.6L VR6 and two electric motors (54 and 114 hp). It is capable of traveling 20 miles on electrified propulsion alone and is estimated to achieve a fuel economy rating of 70 MPGe. While it remains to be seen whether the production 7-passenger crossover will employ the GTE concept’s powertrain we can expect that Volkwagen will finally have a legitimate 3-row crossover to offer stateside coming late 2016.
Mercedes isn’t content to let one automaker suck up all the consumers clamoring for a crossover utility that thinks it’s a four-door coupe (we’re looking at you BMW X6 ). So today they took the wraps off a new addition to their rapidly expanding lineup of utilities with the GLE Coupe. Available in regular GLE 450 guise with a twin-turbo 3-liter V6 at its heart or 577-hp extra speedy GLE 63 AMG strength, the new high-style crossover will get down the highway just fine. Both models utilize standard 4Matic all-wheel drive and 7-speed automatic. We didn’t think there was much of a market for crossovers with limited people and cargo hauling abilities (RIP Acura ZDX) but Mercedes has produced a solid looker with massive 22″ wheels pushed out to all four corners and a full range of interior luxuries to help convince people to part with their money.