2021 Mazda CX-30 review

The CX-30 remains one of the more well-resolved offerings in the small SUV class, blending style, premium appointments and a refined drive.

Comments
James Wong
James Wong
Production Editor
PROS
  • Lovely cabin
  • Strong standard equipment list
  • Comfortable, refined drive
CONS
  • 2.0L petrol finds its limits out of town
  • Tight back seat and small boot compared to rivals
  • Blue interior accents won't be to all tastes

The Mazda CX-30 continues to grow in popularity in Australia, to the point where it occasionally outsells its Mazda 3 sibling in monthly tallies.

It’s no secret why, given the CX-30 is something of a Goldilocks in the Mazda line-up, bridging the gap between the ever-popular CX-3 city SUV and CX-5 mid-sizer.

Even a couple years on from its initial launch, the little Mazda crossover remains one of the most luxurious mainstream compact SUVs in Australia, and is as competitive as ever as rivals battle supply shortages and prices rise across the industry.

How does the CX-30 fare in 2021? Let’s find out.

How much does the Mazda CX-30 G20 Evolve cost?

On test we have the one-up from base – the 2021 Mazda CX-30 G20 Evolve – which is priced from $31,590 before on-road costs. According to Mazda’s website, this specification comes to $36,488 drive-away using a Melbourne postcode.

What you see is what you get for the money too, with the lovely Deep Crystal Blue on our tester a no-cost option. Mazda charges $495 for premium Soul Red Crystal and Polymetal Grey finishes.

Other than that, all CX-30 models bar the flagship Astina are available with the $1500 Vision Pack which adds 360-degree cameras, a semi-autonomous Cruising and Traffic support feature, driver condition monitoring, front cross-traffic alert and front parking sensors (Pure, Evolve). Astina versions get these standard.

See the full 2021 Mazda CX-30 price list 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 AWD: $46,690

All prices exclude on-road costs

Classified as an ‘Small SUV’ by VFACTS, the CX-30 competes with a range of competitors in the Light and Small SUV segments, at least on price.

Key rivals for the Mazda CX-30 include:

  • Ford Focus Active: $30,990
  • GWM Haval Jolion Ultra: $30,990 D/A
  • Honda HR-V VTi-S: $31,200
  • Kia Seltos Sport+ FWD: $35,290 D/A
  • Mazda CX-3 sTouring FWD: $31,090
  • MG ZST Essence: $32,990 D/A
  • Mitsubishi ASX Exceed: $33,490
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross LS 2WD: $32,590
  • Nissan Qashqai ST+: $32,590
  • Skoda Kamiq 110TSI Monte Carlo: $36,990 D/A
  • Subrau XV 2.0i-L: $31,990
  • Volkswagen T-Roc 110TSI Style: $33,990

All prices exclude on-road costs unless specified (D/A)

What do you get?

The Evolve trim level picks up the following equipment over the base Pure:

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter
  • Paddle shifters
  • Rear centre arm rest
  • Overhead sunglass box

Carryover specification from the Pure includes:

  • 7.0-inch multi-information display
  • Electric mirrors with auto folding
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Air conditioning
  • 8.8-inch Mazda Connect infotainment screen
  • Satellite navigation
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • Bluetooth
  • Eight-speaker audio system
  • Push-button start
  • Automatic LED headlights
  • AEB (front and rear) with pedestrian/cyclist detection
  • Auto high-beam
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic assist
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Traffic sign recognition

For the segment, the CX-30 is pretty well equipped and prioritises assistance and tech inclusions which definitely appeals to the savvy younger buying demographic.

Is the Mazda CX-30 G20 Evolve safe?

The CX-30 wears a 2019-stamped five-star ANCAP safety rating, based on tests conducted by Euro NCAP.

Mazda’s small SUV was one of the best-performing vehicles of 2019, posting scores of 99 per cent for adult occupant protection, 88 per cent for child occupants, 80 per cent for vulnerable road users, and 76 per cent for safety assist.

Dual frontal, side chest, side curtain and driver knee airbags are standard on all models, as are autonomous emergency braking (City, Interurban and Vulnerable Road User), lane-keeping assist with lane departure warning, and an advanced speed assistance system.

The CX-30 also has AEB in reverse as part of the rear cross-traffic assist system, as well as a reversing camera, blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control (with stop/go on Astina models as standard).

What is the Mazda CX-30 G20 Evolve like on the inside?

The CX-30’s cabin remains one of the best in the business if material tactility and perceived quality are a priority.

Compared to the more utilitarian interiors of rivals like the Kia Seltos and Volkswagen T-Roc, the Mazda offers a high ratio of padded touch points and soft-touch materials, which really elevate the ambience to almost luxury levels.

The CX-30’s interior is up there with the likes of Lexus – a quick glance of the Lexus UX cabin shows there’s more than a few similarities.

Up front the driver and passenger are treated to really comfortable seats with heaps of adjustment, including a base cushion angle adjustment which is quite unique at this end of the market.

Mazda raved at the CX-30 and Mazda 3 launches about how the front seats are designed to better support occupants in the lower back to increase comfort levels and reduce fatigue. My behind tends to agree.

The blue leatherette accents in Pure and Evolve grades are a bit out there and don’t match all the exterior colours on offer, but they tie in nicely with the blue paint on our tester. The pops of colour likewise add some visual excitement.

I’m also a big fan of Mazda’s 7.0-inch driver’s display which incorporates a large virtual speedometer dial. While not a full digital instrument cluster, it’s a mix of classic and contemporary that looks and feels high-end in everyday use.

Where many rivals are moving to touchscreen and capacitive-based controls, Mazda has persisted with tried and tested physical switchgear, albeit with a minimalist approach to keep the dashboard elegant and uncluttered.

The climate dials and rotary Mazda Connect controller have a nice knurled effect and make a satisfying click as they turn for added accuracy. Further, the buttons on the steering wheel and centre stack are nicely damped and clearly labelled for ease of use.

Speaking of the infotainment, the 8.8-inch Mazda Connect interface is a welcome upgrade from the older MZD Connect system still used in various Mazda models. It’s quicker, crisper and more upmarket than its predecessor, and makes a better case against rival brands.

The wired Apple CarPlay connection worked flawlessly, as did the native navigation and DAB functions. Some may lament the loss of touchscreen inputs, but the rotary controller works just fine. It has a real BMW feel to it.

Storage up front is good, with a huge bin under the front-centre armrest and decent door bins with bottle holders. There’s also a set of cupholders ahead of the shifter and a shelf for your phone.

The CX-30’s shine starts to fade a bit in the back, as second-row accommodation is merely adequate. At 6’1 it was pretty tight behind my driving position, and any of my taller colleagues would be even worse off.

Kids and smaller teenagers should be fine though, and there’s ISOFIX mounts on the outboard positions as well as top-tether points across all three rear seats.

There’s a good amount of amenities, including rear air vents (still fairly rare in the segment at this price point), a fold-down centre armrest with cupholders, and a map pocket behind the front passenger seat.

Further, there’s bottle holders in the rear doors. Unlike the Mazda 3, however, the door trims are hard up top in the rear.

While the CX-30 offers more boot capacity than both the CX-3 and Mazda 3 hatch, it’s still at the lower end of the small SUV class.

Quoting 317L in five-seat configuration, the Mazda is well behind the likes of the Kia Seltos (433L-468L), Nissan Qashqai (430L) and Skoda Kamiq (400L).

For what it is, though, the boot is nice and square, and when you fold the second row there’s an almost flat load area. A pram with shopping should fit.

Like most vehicles in the class, the Mazda CX-30 features a space-saver spare under the boot floor.

What’s under the bonnet?

CX-30 models dubbed ‘G20’ run a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels.

The base Pure offers a standard six-speed manual, with the six-speed auto a $1000 option. All other models score the auto as standard.

Outputs are rated at 114kW (6000rpm) and 200Nm (4000rpm). A 0-100 time of 10.2 seconds is quoted.

In terms of fuel use, Mazda claims a combined figure of a fairly miserly 6.5L/100km. The CX-30’s 51-litre tank runs happily on 91RON fuel, and idle stop/start technology is standard.

How does the Mazda CX-30 G20 Evolve drive?

There’s been no changes to the CX-30’s running gear since I reviewed the G20 Evolve in 2020, however I am more appreciative of the Mazda’s talents after spending more time behind the wheel.

Last year we were in between Melbourne lockdowns when I drove the 2.0-litre CX-30, meaning I wasn’t really doing peak-hour commuting to the office and instead was going on longer freeway stints visiting family and friends I hadn’t seen in a while.

My criticisms, or perhaps acknowledgement of the 2.0-litre mill’s limits remain, but having spent a week driving to and from the CarExpert Melbourne office in Southbank made me realise the G20 powertrain is more than enough for those who rarely venture into regional areas.

Outputs of 114kW and 200Nm may seem meek on paper but the CX-30’s rev-happy nature and 1360kg tare mass mean it has ample grunt to get moving at urban speeds, and the six-speed auto shifts swiftly on the go.

The buzzy character of Mazda’s petrol engines is as present as ever, and it can occasionally sound coarse on cold start or under full throttle. Be a touch gentler with it, and it has an endearing note and is reasonably refined.

Up to 80km/h the CX-30 keeps up well with traffic, though it isn’t as effortless as rivals with downsized turbo engines. Freeway speeds are doable, we’d suggest stepping up to a G25 2.5-litre model if you spend more time on the open road.

As we found in our comparison with the more athletic Ford Focus Active, the CX-30 rides in a more cushy, SUV style manner ensuring comfort across just about all road surfaces.

Even with a less sophisticated torsion beam rear axle setup, compliance is right up there with the best in class even if rebound at the rear is a little sharper than up front. It’s also beautifully insulated from road and wind noise, especially in a class where NVH usually takes a back seat.

That insulated, effortless feeling extends to the handling, too. The steering is quite light bordering on numb but the tiller is beautifully fluid and accurate, making tight city manoeuvres a breeze while ensuring a sense of stability since you don’t have to constantly correct it on the straight and narrow.

It really feels very European in the steering and on-road feel, more akin to an Audi. The CX-30 drives like a bigger car than it is – in a good way – making it a relaxing thing to drive for long periods.

Mazda’s extensive driver assistance suite is another highlight, with plenty of active safety systems keeping you safe on the road. The adaptive cruise and lane assist systems work well, though the Cruising and Traffic Assist function in the Vision Package would make it even better (essentially a semi-autonomous mode).

The blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic assist functions produce a bong that can get annoying since these systems can be quite sensitive and eager to shout at you, but given the big rear blind spot both features are welcome.

How much does the Mazda CX-30 G20 Evolve cost to run?

The 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, with the first five visits quoted at $316, $361, $316, $361 and $316 – totalling $ over the first 60 months or 50,000km.

It’s worth noting the 10,000km intervals are shorter than many rivals that allow 15,000km between trips to the dealer, but if you don’t do much other than commute to work you’ll probably be fine.

As for fuel costs, we saw in the eights and nines during our time with the vehicle, keeping in mind we had the CX-30 over the two-week Melbourne lockdown restricting later commutes to short urban trips. The CX-30 shouldn’t cost too much at the pump, happily running on 91RON and a decent 51L tank.

CarExpert’s Take on the Mazda CX-30 G20 Evolve

The Mazda CX-30 may not have changed much since launch, but the industry has.

As rivals have gotten more expensive with little development in the new COVID-normal world, the CX-30 makes a stronger case than ever with an affordable asking price, high-quality cabin and a strong list of inclusions.

It also is one of the most comfortable and refined small SUVs you can buy, period, and is relatively attractive to look at (though that’s entirely subjective).

Cons? The merely adequate practicality, halogen daytime running lights on lower models and urban-focused 2.0-litre powertrain remain drawbacks, if only small ones depending on buyer requirements.

All told, the CX-30 is hard to beat and it’s no wonder the little Mazda SUV is setting sales records recently – helped by good supply and short wait times.

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Ratings
OVERALL8.2
Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 8
Ride Comfort 8.5
Safety 9
Fit for Purpose 8
Handling Dynamics 8.5
Interior Practicality and Space 7.5
Fuel Efficiency 7.5
Value for Money 8
Performance 7.5
Technology Infotainment 9
Pricing
A$31,790 MRLP
Specs
6.5L
114kW
152g
5 ★
View full specifications