Thursday, January 26, 2023
Reviews 2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo Review: The Freedom Afforded By The Absence...

2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo Review: The Freedom Afforded By The Absence Of Legacy

The Mazda CX-30 Turbo is a unique uber-premium performance small SUV

  • The 2021 Mazda CX-30 Turbo is priced from $36,250 in Canada, $30,195 in the US.

  • The CX-30 Turbo is premium power and performance.

  • The compact CX-30 is at its best with the 2.5-litre turbo.

I’ll be entirely honest as I was in my Mazda3 Sport GT Turbo review: The car did not deliver the fizzes I was secretly hoping it would. My deep-set expectations were not met but this set me up perfectly for the 2021 CX-30 Turbo. I knew it was going to be quick and premium but I did plan on being so easily seduced by this small SUV.

2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The new 2021 Mazda CX-30 is a surprising SUV. With its limitations being its size, and nothing else, consumers have quickly understood that this compact utility vehicle not only delivers styling but an incredible and unpredictable level of refinement. What’s more, its pricing structure poses no obstacle to buyers looking for technology to go along with design, both inside and out.

Already popular, the Mazda CX-30 has managed to conquer many entry-level SUV buyers and in little time hoisted itself among the three best-selling nameplate for the brand. Most car companies would stop here and move on to the next vehicle but Mazda wanted to fully exploit this SUVs upscale potential.


So why would Mazda go and drop the turbocharged 2.5-litre engine into the CX-30? Because it delivers more power than needed, or what is acceleration margin. In other words, the extra power is always at your beck and call without needing massive engine revs or numerous downshifts. You see, speed and going fast are but two aspects as to why but not the reason.

2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The 2.5T and its 227 horsepower (250 with premium) and 310 lb.-ft. (320 on premium) of torque provides more in-gear performance and power as a form of luxury. The idea is that, as power is confidence-building and that the CX-30 Turbo’s 310 lb.-ft. of torque are fully on tap as of 2,000 rpm, the driver need only apply gentle pressure on the throttle to pass. In fact, unless the desire is to literally punch it, engine revs will rarely shoot past 4,000 rpm. And this means that the cabin will always be serenely quiet.

Subtle, refined, and loaded

And as we know, serenity is always welcomed. The cabin is a triumph in simple design, uncomplicated craftsmanship, and beauty. Identical to the non-turbo CX-30, the dashboard features everything the front passengers needs and nothing they don’t. The HVAC controls are delicately arranged and take as little space as required. The standard 8.8-inch display can only be worked via the HMI commander switch which becomes second-nature after a little while.

While the ergonomics are all but entirely faultless, the fit and finish are flawless. The GT includes leather everywhere incorporating brown accents on the doors, dash, and centre console.

2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The 2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo is just as subtle and haut-de-gamme on the outside. Like the Mazda3 Turbo, the CX-30 is devoid of massive wheels, a giant rear spoiler, and various other aerodynamic bits. The only visual enhancements are larger tailpipes, a few black accents, and the “Turbo” badge on the hatch. This is a low-key premium at its best.

A real driving experience for the more mature among us

Like the Mazda3 Turbo, the CX-30 Turbo is not aimed at enthusiasts, it’s for more mature buyers that still seek power and a great driving experience. But the power does not come as a compromise. Mazda’s revised the rear differential mounts and retuned the suspension to make the Turbo handle the same as non-turbo. The snail on the Turbo’s exhaust side and a number of other components have increased the CX-30’s weight by about 120lbs. But to drive them back-to-back, there is no noticeable difference.

About the “missing” 0-60mph metrics for both the 3 and CX-30 Turbo, Mazda says that the numbers are not meaningful and effectively say nothing about how the vehicle drives. And although I agree if I keep in mind what Mazda’s intent for this vehicle, it feels faster than the Mazda3 GT Turbo (which weighs about 135lbs less).

2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Although this CX-30 Turbo is for the more mature among us, it is possible to have plenty of fun with it. The CX-30 features a off-road traction assist drive mode. When activated, it locks up the centre coupling for maximum take-off grip. Once underway, the system decouples slightly and then adjusts as need based on needs. This little button makes the best use of the already highly-competent 7th generation i-Activ AWD system which I would confidently pit against any other mainstream setup.

A Jack of all trades

On the road, the 2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo builds serious momentum with added ease and civility than any of its small competitors. What’s more, it ridicules the likes of the Audi Q3, BMW X2, and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Factor in its impressive list of features and price point and the only question that remains is figuring out how you feel about spending $36,250 to get lots more luxury and power than the others.

Finally, unlike the Mazda3 turbo, this boosted Mazda is exactly right. The CX-30’s lack of legacy gives it the freedom it deserves to shine.

2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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