Base price for a 2021 Mazda CX-30 is $24,550 in Canada, $21,900 in the US.
It slots itself in Mazda’s lineup above the Mazda3, and between the CX-3 and CX-5.
It is refined, handsome and a true crossover.
The desire for more SUVs is invariably pushing carmakers to become creative. Many of them are recycling what was once a “car”, which is falling out of favour, into something more upright, and occasionally with more ground clearance. The all-new Mazda CX-30 is a confusing and yet extremely straightforward small SUV as it is based entirely on the Mazda3.
The CX-30 visual enhancements over the Mazda3 Sport boil down to the raised ride height and plastic wheel flares. In fact, if you squint just a little, the small SUV’s roots are quite evident.
Now, this is not an issue per se as the CX-30 is not only extremely attractive but quite nearly unique among its segment colleagues. Think of the CX-30 as the Subaru Crosstrek in the Subaru Impreza family. The CX-30 is the crossover in Mazda’s 3 family. How this works with the CX-3in the picture, however, is a little more convoluted.
Small premium Mazda SUV
The CX-30 is as unique as the Mazda3 where these vehicles are nothing short of premium in the way they look, drive and are assembled. Mazda sees the small ute blurring the line between the small mainstream SUVs such as the Hyundai Kona and Honda HR-V and the luxury offerings such as the Lexus UX and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Like the Mazda3, this is not a side-effect of drinking the cool-aid.
With the exception of the badge and the now tremendously familiar Mazda design language, the CX-30 could be mistaken for a premium brand’s offering. The small SUV’s silhouette is not quite 4-door coupe-like but is closer to that of the donor 3 Sport than even the CX-3. From all angles, like the car, the CX-30’s lines pop and the sun’s reflection dances on all its smooth surfaces. The exaggerated wheel arches mixed with the generous wheel gap take a moment to process but soon, it all comes together admirably well.
The same applies to the cabin. The CX-30’s interior quarters which are swathed in premium materials with soft-touch surfaces everywhere. The sense of sitting in a cockpit is enhanced in the CX-30 over the Mazda3. From my typical lowest seating position, the handsome and spartan dashboard seems taller and just as enveloping as in the 3. Also like the 3, the SUV includes the standard 8.8-inch screen, which is not touch-sensitive and is controlled via the HMI Commander switch.
As for space, the CX-30 is as wide as the Mazda3 however its wheelbase is marginally shorter. Despite that, the rear bench seems more accommodating which is in large part a result of the small rear quarter window and extra headroom afforded by the slightly larger greenhouse. Trunk volume changes little compared to the Mazda3 Sport at 572 litres (20.2 cubic feet) to its 569 litres (20 cu.ft.). Front passengers are the best treated onboard with plenty of room, storage and creature comforts. In the tested GS with optional leatherette, the combination of blue and black shades is superb and absolutely premium.
Drives like a tall 3
On-road behaviour is as good as can be expected. In fact, it’s better than most if not all of its competition including everything from the Nissan Qashqai to the Audi Q3. The CX-30’s platform is perfectly suited to its job. Solid, it allows the chassis to be tuned for optimal handling without sacrificing comfort. Truly, the CX-30 is surprisingly refined and rewarding to drive. As far as steering and braking go, they are on par with the Mazda3, that is to say, well up to the task.
The base 2020 Mazda CX-30 GS, priced from $24,550, is FWD only and powered by the 155-horsepower 2.0-litre engine. In Canada, this is not the version to buy. It is well equipped however with LED lights, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, blind-spot monitoring, keyless entry and more. The GS, and GT (and all variations in the US), are powered by the 186-horsepower 2.5-litre engine which delivers more than sufficient power. FWD is standard for the GS, at $27,350, as are heated seats, heated steering wheel, 18-inch wheels and more. AWD adds $1,500, for a total of $28,850, and this is the version to get.
My GS AWD test unit also featured the optional Luxury Package with the moonroof, power driver seat, and leatherette seats. The $1,900 asking price is fair. Finally there’s a GT with AWD, leather and more for $33,850.
In conclusion, the 2020 Mazda CX-30 is, unsurprisingly, a good product, very much along the lines of other Mazda products. If I had to bring up a few negative points, the small SUV’s biggest shortcoming is again overall interior space. Fuel economy is no better than decent at about 9.5L/100km. As well, visibility, although better than what a 3 Sport delivers, is still compromised somewhat by the vehicle’s design.
Finally, Mazda’s plan to “SUV” the Mazda3 is working out in their favour. In little time, the CX-30 hoisted itself as the 3rd best overall selling model for Mazda Canada, behind the Mazda3 and CX-5. It is thus, the 2nd best-selling SUV in the line-up as well. Before long, it is expected that it will replace the Mazda3 in the #2 spot as the compact car’s sales continue to slide. This is why it exists, and where it fits.