Mazda launched a winter test driving event at their test course in Hokkaido. Aside from that, Mazda also permitted test driving in public highways outside of the test course.
I chose the CX-3. It certainly has a 4WD driving system. The CX-3 is the only one in the lineup that has a diesel engine. And I really thought that the cross-country-type 4WD and diesel combination is perfect for driving in winter. This test driving event was sponsored by Mazda, so the cars were all in standard form. However, they were equipped with Bridgestone Blizzak VRX studless tires.
Furthermore, the test course was almost cleared of snow. And the road was in dry condition, thanks to the fine weather. Well then, can I say my impression about driving in winter in this condition? I was a bit worried as I drove the CX-3 to the north. However, that worry immediately disappeared. When I drove through the right corner, a part of its road condition was clearly different. Yes, one part of its road was in a frozen state. I had a theory that by all rights, the speed would drop down and I’d have to choose a lane where I could avoid such road conditions, but instead, I purposefully drove through that frozen road.
When you drive on a frozen road with poor tires and inferior 4WD handling, its front tires would suddenly take you out of the lane so it’d make you anxious. However, as for the CX-3, when I thought that it would slide out of the lane in one moment, its front tires immediately took hold of its grip and I was able to control its steering wheel as it was; therefore, I could go back to my target line. The speed of this control takes the small torque to the differential gear and remains in that condition, just like when torque is immediately transmitted to its rear tires. I also experienced driving on split roads, which have the tendency to make half of the left and right tires frozen, but after all, its stability did not cause any damage
I wanted to take photos on the snowy floor area as I came from a long way to Hokkaido, so we arranged the cars ahead of a dead end road. I was also driving through areas that still had snow, and it let me excellently handle its grip even in soft snowy areas. It has a minimum ground clearance of 160mm, but it can also pave the way full of snow even at that range.
(Translated by Claire Marie Sausora)