Wednesday, October 5, 2022
News 2020 Mazda CX-30 First Drive: It Does Almost Everything Right

2020 Mazda CX-30 First Drive: It Does Almost Everything Right

2020 Mazda CX-30 Pros

  • The most fun you can have in a small SUV
  • More comfortable and refined than its rivals
  • Good value, especially the GX and GS trims
  • Exclusive and stylish interior

2020 Mazda CX-30 Cons

  • Not as spacious as most of its direct competitors
  • GT trim is expensive without providing enough value

There are a few things that Mazda really gets right. Within the segments they compete in, Mazda vehicles tend to be the most fun to drive. They also tend to be among the most upscale options buyers can consider. Moreover, they provide an appealing blend of performance and fuel efficiency.

Where they have trouble keeping up with their rivals is in the space department. Regardless of whether we are talking about the Mazda3 or the Mazda CX-9, we are looking at one of the smaller models in their respective segments. The same can be said about the Mazda CX-5 and Mazda CX-3. Both are great in plenty of ways, but they can’t match their competition when it comes to versatility and interior space. Enter the 2020 Mazda CX-30.

The Mazda CX-30 isn’t meant to replace the CX-3, at least for now. Rather, it’s a bridge between the CX-3 and the CX-5 with a bit more space than the former but smaller and more affordable than the latter. The CX-3 is one of the smaller subcompact utility vehicles you can buy, and it’s had a direct impact on sales. The CX-30’s mission is to give buyers in that segment a more spacious option while staying true to Mazda’s DNA centered around vehicles that are more refined than average at their price point, and more enjoyable to drive.

2020 Mazda CX-30 First Drive
2020 Mazda CX-30 First Drive

Two Engines, Three Trims for the 2020 Mazda CX-30

Let’s get the specs out of the way. The CX-30 offers the same engines as one would find in the Mazda3 Sport hatchback starting with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder unit that delivers 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. This engine will be available in the entry-level GS trim starting at $23,950 for front-wheel drive models and $25,950 for all-wheel drive models. GS and GT models will feature a more powerful 2.5-litre four-cylinder option with 186 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque.

The Mazda CX-30 GS starts at $26,650 with front-wheel drive and $28,650 with all-wheel drive. The GT starts at $33,850 and only comes with AWD.

Expensive? Well, the CX-30 is about $4,000 less than a CX-5 with equivalent equipment, and more importantly it comes it cheaper than a Honda HR-V or Subaru Crosstrek. It’s a few thousand dollars more than a Nissan Qashqai or Hyundai Kona, however. It’s in the money, with the possible exception of the top-of-the-line GT trim that’s among the most expensive models in the segment.

2020 Mazda CX-30 First Drive
2020 Mazda CX-30 First Drive

On the other hand, there are plenty of features to justify the price. The entry-level models comes standard with keyless entry, air conditioning, heated front seats, an 8.8-inch centre touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. As far as base models go in its segment, the CX-30 isn’t lacking value. The GS model adds a heated steering wheel and a range of advanced active safety technologies such as automatic braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, driver attention alert, and radar cruise control with stop and go function. You also get dual-zone climate.

The GT trim adds leather seats, a Bose premium sound system, more safety tech, adaptive front-lighting system, 18-inch wheels, and exclusive trims, among other features. If it were me, I’d go with the GS trim with all-wheel drive. That’s where the real value is. Now the big question, how does it drive?

On The Road in the 2020 Mazda CX-30

The short answer would be like a Mazda. The Japanese automaker has a way of making its cars and SUVs fun and connected on the road like few others can. The CX-30 inspires confidence and drives just like a Mazda3 Sport. You quickly forget that you are technically in a sport utility vehicle. The only models that come close to the CX-30’s driving behavior are the Crosstrek and the Kona. The others will feel too soft and disconnected for buyers who like to drive. On the other hand, the CX-30’s comfort is impressive.

Mazda put a lot of effort into reducing harshness and making the cabin quiet, and it shows. We spent hours behind the wheel of the CX-30 going from San Diego to Palm Springs, a drive that takes you high up in the mountains and then way down in the desert on straight and winding roads. The CX-30 behaved admirably in all situations.

It was also nice to see that Mazda designed a brand-new interior for the CX-30. This isn’t a duplicate of the CX-3 or the Mazda3, it features its own design and although the dashboard may be a bit bulky for some, the overall layout is clean, refined, and functional. The infotainment system is easy to navigate, there’s plenty of storage space, and the quality of the materials is above average.

2020 Mazda CX-30 Interior

That said, I’m not sure Mazda has fixed its versatility problem. The CX-30 is still on the smaller side when it comes to rear space and cargo capacity. Mazda didn’t give us the exact cargo space numbers, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Once they come out, the CX-30 will likely rank among the least spacious options in its segment. Granted there’s more space in the Mazda than in a Kona and in the CX-3, but that’s about it. Other subcompact SUVs will provide more versatility.

Final Word

So we’re back to the initial problem that’s plagued the CX-3, the CX-5, and the CX-9. However, the CX-30 is a real improvement over the CX-3 and that may just be enough to sway buyers. Because aside from needing a bit more interior space, the 2020 Mazda CX-30 is a blast to drive, it’s fuel efficient, it’s more luxurious than its competitors, it’s comfortable, and it has the kind of equipment buyers want.

2020 Mazda CX-30 Images


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Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur was studying to be a CPA when he decided to drop everything and launch a car website in 2012. Don't ask. The journey has been an interesting one, but today he has co-founded and manages 8 websites including and as General Manager of NetMedia360. He also sits on the board of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. Send me an email


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