Mazda raised a few eyebrows when it launched the very handsome 3 hatchback, complete with a very small boot and a very big over-the-shoulder blind-spot.
It subsequently lowered those eyebrows with the CX-30, a more practical take on the new Mazda 3 shape designed to cash in on the SUV craze.
The 2021 Mazda CX-30 G20 Touring on test here keeps the theme rolling by offering a smattering of high-end features at a price well south of $40,000.
Is it the sweet spot in the CX-30 range?
There’s no shortage of choice in the CX-30 range, with nine variants split across three engines and two transmissions.
Our G20 Touring is priced at $35,190 before on-road costs, and has a 2.0-litre engine with front-wheel drive and an automatic transmission.
You can have the Touring with a more powerful ‘G25’ 2.5-litre engine and all-wheel drive, but it’ll cost you an extra $3800.
The mid-$30,000 mark is chock full of excellent competitors for the CX-30.
There are two Nissan Qashqai models flanking the CX-30, in the form of the ST-L and Midnight Edition ($34,600 and $36,200 before on-roads respectively).
A full CX-30 price list is below:
- 2021 Mazda CX-30 G20 Pure Manual: $28,990
- 2021 Mazda CX-30 G20 Pure Automatic: $29,990
- 2021 Mazda CX-30 G20 Evolve: $31,590
- 2021 Mazda CX-30 G20 Touring: $35,190
- 2021 Mazda CX-30 G25 Touring AWD: $38,690
- 2021 Mazda CX-30 G20 Astina: $39,190
- 2021 Mazda CX-30 G25 Astina: $41,690
- 2021 Mazda CX-30 G25 Astina AWD: $43,690
- 2021 Mazda CX-30 X20 Astina: $46,690
All prices exclude on-road costs.
Equipment gained by opting for the Mazda CX-30 Touring includes:
- Front parking sensors
- Auto-dimming mirrors
- Leather seat trim (black)
- Electric driver’s seat with memory
- Illuminated vanity mirrors
That’s atop the following features standard on lower models:
- 7.0-inch multi-information display
- Electric mirrors with auto folding
- Rain-sensing wipers
- 8.8-inch widescreen infotainment screen
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wired)
- Satellite navigation
- Eight-speaker sound system
- DAB+ digital radio
- Keyless entry and start
- Automatic headlights with auto high-beam
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Rear parking sensors
- Traffic sign recognition
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Dual-zone climate control
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter
- Paddle shifters
- Rear centre armrest
The CX-30 range (bar Astina models) is also available with a Vision Package ($1300 on the Touring) that adds:
- Surround-view camera
- Driver attention monitoring
- Front cross-traffic alert
- Front parking sensors (Pure, Evolve)
The Mazda CX-30 scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating when tested in 2019.
It scored 99 per cent for adult occupant protection, 88 per cent for child occupant protection, 80 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 76 per cent for safety assist.
All Mazda CX-30 models are fitted with:
- Autonomous emergency braking
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Lane-keep assist
- Traffic sign recognition
- Rear parking sensors
- Dusk-sensing LED headlights with auto high-beam
Opting for the Vision Technology package ($1300 on Touring) adds to that mix a surround-view camera, driver attention monitoring, front cross-traffic alert.
Mazda has a formula that works for its latest interiors, which major on high-quality buttons and luxurious-feeling surfaces.
The CX-30 doesn’t deviate from that formula. Not only is the design attractive, there’s very little learning curve associated with getting the most out of it.
Want to change the temperature? There are dials for that, no silly touch controls. The gear selector is a conventional PRND slider, the 7.0-inch digital centre dial doesn’t overwhelm you with information, and the infotainment system can be controlled using a set of shortcut buttons surrounding the rotary controller on the transmission tunnel.
The driver and passenger sit in leather-trimmed pews with plenty of support for long drives, and a broad range of adjustment for odd-shaped bodies. The slim-rimmed, classically-styled steering wheel telescopes out to meet the driver, and the places designed to house an elbow are pleasingly soft.
No doubt, the front of the CX-30 is a very good place to spend time.
There’s no shortage of storage around, from the door bins to the transmission tunnel with its cupholders and phone/wallet-sized space beneath the dash, but the strange sliding/folding console bin cover is too clever by half.
Mazda’s latest infotainment system (called Mazda Connect) is a big step forward from the old MZD Connect setup, with quick responses and handsome graphics on its widescreen 8.8-inch display.
It’s easy to use on the move, but it’s not a touchscreen, which means it’s not the most intuitive system on which to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Most brands with dials to control their entertainment systems now have a touchscreen as well, because it works better when you’re using CarPlay with its big, colourful icons.
Things in the rear are decent given the size of the CX-30, although it’s not a standout back there. Headroom is generous enough for average-sized adults or taller teens, and normal-sized people will be able to sit behind normal-sized drivers.
The taller glasshouse on the CX-30 compared to its more style-oriented 3 sibling makes it an airier place to sit, and there are air vents to keep kids cool in summer.
ISOFIX points are fitted to the outboard seats, and there are three top-tether points for child seats. There’s a fold-down central armrest, and the backrests fold flat to free up more boot space.
The Mazda CX-30’s boot has a capacity of 317L with the rear seats in place, or 430L with underfloor storage accounted for. It’s a small space compared to what’s on offer in rivals such as the Seltos, and there’s a pronounced loading lip.
A space-saver spare sits beneath the boot floor.
Power in the Mazda CX-30 G20 comes from a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine with 114kW and 200Nm.
It’s sent to the front wheels through a six-speed torque converter automatic.
A more powerful 2.5-litre four-cylinder is available on the CX-30 Touring with all-wheel drive, while the range-topping CX-30 Astina is offered with the ‘Skyactiv-X’ 2.0-litre compression-ignition petrol packing mild-hybrid backing and a clever combustion system capable of acting like a petrol or a diesel engine.
Claimed fuel economy in the CX-30 G20 is 6.5L/100km, we saw mid-sevens with a mix of city and highway driving.
If you’ve driven a modern Mazda, you’ve a pretty good idea what the CX-30 is like from behind the wheel. Again, that’s a good thing.
There’s a grown-up feeling to the CX-30, like the edges have been smoothed over… for the most part.
The ride is excellent for starters, despite being a relatively small car riding on relatively big wheels. It doesn’t crash and bash over potholes or expansion joints, and floats along serenely on the highway.
It’s also impressively hushed. There was a time when Mazda really struggled to keep its cars quiet, but the CX-30 is like a private jet at speed, with very little road or wind noise sneaking in.
The steering is typical Mazda, which is to say it’s slightly heavier than you get in some rivals, with an oily smooth feeling off centre. It’s easy to park in the city, but it also makes for a car that feels planted on the open road.
Relative to its rivals it’s also happy to be thrown around. It feels balanced on its feet in a way few compact crossovers do when you’re in a hurry.
The weak link is the engine. It’s adequate, but never anything more than that.
It makes a bit of a racket when you turn it on, and its outputs are well down on what the turbocharged engines offered in the Kia Seltos and Hyundai Kona pack.
There’s enough get-up-and-go for driving around the city, but anything more than cruising requires a determined right foot. Flatten the accelerator and the six-speed automatic kicks down a gear, the revs soar, and you get more noise… but not all that much of a shove in the back.
We aren’t necessarily criticising the CX-30 for not being fast, because it’s not meant to be a rocket, but it doesn’t have the same effortless low-down shove you get from modern turbocharged engines.
You need to work harder to get going quickly, which undermines its luxurious feel. The 2.5-litre engine goes some way to solving that, but it’s more expensive.
Where the engine and transmission in the CX-30 makes up ground is in how normal it feels.
With an old-fashioned torque converter there’s no low-speed jerkiness when you move off, which will make people trading in their old car feel at home straight away.
Mazda’s lane-keep assist system doesn’t try to wrestle the wheel from your hands if you drift slightly towards the white lines, intervening smoothly when you really need it, and its adaptive cruise control does a good job maintaining a gap to the car in front.
There’s very little in the way of a learning curve.
The Mazda CX-30 is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with five years of roadside assistance.
Maintenance is required every 12 months or 10,000 kilometres, whichever comes first.
The first five services cost $316, $361, $316, $361, and $316 respectively. Combined, that adds up to $1670.
On paper, the CX-30 risks being swallowed up by not only its rivals, but the CX-3 and CX-5 flanking it in the Mazda range.
In reality it carves a pretty compelling niche, especially in Touring guise.
It offers a compelling blend of form and function, backing its good looks with a practical (and luxurious) interior, and a decent drive – albeit one slightly let down by the middling engine.
The Touring has everything you really need in an upmarket crossover, at a more reasonable price than the Astina.
Is it worth spending the extra on the G25 with its more powerful engine? You can get away the G20 if most of your driving is in the city, but buyers who spend their lives on the open road would be well-served checking out the punchier model.
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MORE: Everything Mazda CX-30