Within Mazda’s line of crossovers, this new CX-30 slots between their CX-3 and larger CX-5 crossovers. Choosing between the three can be a tough decision. But the CX-30 is all encompassing as it’s a cross between a pure driver’s car and a top-notch AWD utility with miserly mileage numbers.
CX-3’s exterior styling is very satisfying with smooth, curvy lines that taper to the rear to give it a coupe-like look. Its shark eyes headlights and taillights are all LED powered. CX-30’s design is one that doesn’t go out of style and certainly much prettier to look at compared to, for example, an all electric Tesla whose front end resembles a catfish.
CX-3 is offered FWD and AWD and in Select, Preferred and Premium trim models, the latter of which was tested.
Upon a mere 17-inch step-in into the cockpit, you’ll find a premium interior with soft touch features, perforated leather and heated front seat inserts, an 8.8-inch display and a pleasantly arranged control deck wherein display inputs are accomplished by a rotary dial.
The display serves an infotainment system, rearview camera, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, XM radio with Travel Link that provides traffic information, navigation, weather forecasts and radar, sports scores and area fuel prices.
All HVAC controls are sensibly placed and simple to use and below them is a small storage bin could have better served as a wireless phone charger pad.
CX-3’s standard 6-speed automatic transmission and its console mounted shifter (with paddle shifters), is flanked by a Sport mode switch that holds gears in longer for better performance, an Auto Hold switch for when the car is on a hill, plus a Parking brake switch. The latter is annoying in that it automatically sets the brake when the transmission is placed in Park. But must be manually released when selecting Drive. It’s doubtful many drivers frequently use their parking brake other than when parked on a hill. So this feature takes some getting used to.
CX-30’s gauge cluster uses a large, centered digital gauge for the speedometer and driver information display, while the tachometer and fuel/temperature gauges are analog. A Heads-Up Display on the windshield shows speed and other information while eliminating the need to take the eyes off the road to check the speedometer.
Rear seat ingress/egress is on the tight side, but could improve if the doors opened a bit wider. The taut seats can accommodate two adults or three youngsters with marginal leg room, and that’s provided the fronts aren’t racked well rearward. Headroom is ample.
Back in the cargo area and with the rear seatbacks upright, it measures 31.5 inches deep, 40 wide and 29 high. Flip them and cargo depth increases to 60 inches. A low 29-inch liftover makes loading bulky or heavy items considerably easier.
Beneath the cargo floor is a space saver spare tire with no extra space around it to stow small items out of sight. We commend Mazda for providing a real tire instead of a tire inflator kit as far too many carmakers are including in their new models, obviously as a cost saving.
CX-30 has but one engine choice. A 2.5-liter, inline 4-cylinder that puts out 186-hp and a matching 186 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of an impressive 25 city, 32-highway mpg, which is helped along with start/stop engine technology. Coupled to the 6-speed auto transmission, acceleration is spirited as is passing power, especially when in Sport mode. With a window down, the engine is a tad noisy under hard acceleration, but disappears at highway speeds. There’s certainly no want for power but it would be interesting to see if a turbo were added. Could turn the CX-30 into a rocket.
Mazda includes its G-Vectoring Control that adds direct yaw moment control via the brakes. This enhances stability during sharp turns as it supplies light brake force to the outer wheels to restore the vehicle to straight-line running. It results in better emergency handling including lane changes at high speed and when driving on slippery, snow-covered roads.
Overall, CX-30 rides comfortably and smoothly on Bridgestone 18-inch tires. It parks easily with its electric power assisted steering and it’s really fun and a hoot to drive.
With a base price of $29,600, an extremely long list of features and safety items such as blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, radar cruise control, smart brake support, anti-theft immobilizer, dynamic stability control, lane departure warning/lane keep assist, tire pressure monitoring, rain sensing wipers, sunroof and considerably more are all standard.
Actually, the only extra cost options were for a navigation SD card ($275), floor mats ($450) and delivery ($1,045), that took the bottom line to a reasonable $31,370.
As a 2020 World Car of the Year finalist, CX-30 is certainly one of the most compelling and handsome AWD crossovers on the market.