Choice can be overwhelming, and Mazda offers plenty of it in the CX-30 range.
There are 14 individual models offered, split across four engines, five trim levels, and a choice of front- and all-wheel drive. Prices range from below $30,000 (similar territory to the smaller CX-3) to just shy of $50,000 before on-roads (in line with high-end versions of the larger CX-5).
The car on test here sits smack bang in the middle of the line-up. It features an entry-level 2.0-litre engine, combined with an automatic transmission and a decent serving of luxuries, all at a price well below $40,000 before on-roads.
Does it represent the sweet spot in the range?
The Mazda CX-30 G20 Touring on test here sits in the middle of the range, with a sticker price of $36,290 before on-roads.
It’s $1400 less expensive than the more powerful G25 Touring, and $3900 more expensive than the G20 Evolve automatic sitting below it in the range.
The CX-30 competes in one of the most crowded corners of the SUV world, so there’s no shortage of rivals around that price.
It lines up with a Toyota Corolla Cross GXL petrol ($36,750), a Kia Seltos Sport+ 2.0 FWD ($35,800), and the Nissan Qashqai ST+ ($37,890). The new Subaru Crosstrek AWD 2.0R will set you back $38,490, and the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross LS is priced at $35,990.
All prices exclude on-road costs.
Mazda CX-30 pricing:
- Mazda CX-30 G20 Pure Manual: $29,590
- Mazda CX-30 G20 Pure Automatic: $30,590
- Mazda CX-30 G20 Evolve: $32,390
- Mazda CX-30 G20e Evolve M Hybrid: $36,040
- Mazda CX-30 G20 Touring: $36,290
- Mazda CX-30 G25 Touring: $37,690
- Mazda CX-30 G20 Touring SP: $37,990
- Mazda CX-30 G25 Touring SP: $39,490
- Mazda CX-30 G25 Touring AWD: $39,690
- Mazda CX-30 G20 Astina: $41,190
- Mazda CX-30 G25 Touring SP AWD: $41,490
- Mazda CX-30 G25 Astina: $42,690
- Mazda CX-30 G25 Astina AWD: $44,690
- Mazda CX-30 X20 Astina M Hybrid AWD: $47,690
Prices exclude on-road costs
Mazda hasn’t been sucked into the latest industry trend for bigger screens and fewer buttons.
Even newer cars like the CX-60 and CX-90 have touchscreens that are integrated into their dashboards rather than dominating them, and the CX-30 is even more classical. The black and brown combination is an acquired taste, but the rest of the cabin looks lovely given this is a mid-range model.
Want to change the temperature or fan speed? You get knurled-effect dials that make a satisfying, Audi-ish click when you turn them, and buttons that don’t involve any diving through touchscreens or menus.
It’s refreshing, as is the BMW iDrive-style rotary dial on the transmission tunnel.
The old-fashioned way giveth, but it also taketh away. The screen in the CX-30 is mounted a long way from the driver, and looks small after spending time in the new Kia Seltos. It’s not a touchscreen on the move, which is annoying when you’re using Apple CarPlay, although the graphics and animations are all slick.
There’s no wireless phone charger, and the two USB ports hidden beneath the sliding and tilting central armrest are USB-A units rather than more modern USB-C.
There’s no shortage of storage spaces, from the door bins to the transmission tunnel with its cupholders and phone/wallet-sized space beneath the dash, but the armrest/storage cover is too clever by half.
Both driver and passenger sit in leather-trimmed seats 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.
Space in the rear of the CX-30 is decent, but not class-leading. Headroom is generous enough for normal-sized adults or tall teenagers, and will feel spacious if you’ve been squeezed into the back of the more style-oriented 3 hatchback.
There are air vents to keep the kids cool in summer, along with ISOFIX points on the outboard rear seats and a trio of top-tether points. The central armrest folds down, and the backrest split-folds 60/40.
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 CX-30 G20 comes from a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine, making 114kW of power and 200Nm of torque.
It’s sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The base Pure offers a manual transmission as standard, but the auto is the standard shifter on every other variant.
The G20 uses a claimed 6.5 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, and drinks 91 RON regular unleaded. Front-wheel drive models like our tester have a 51L fuel tank.
Maybe we’ve been spoiled by a steady diet of turbocharged engines, but the G20 engine that opens the CX-30 range feels undercooked.
It’s a shame, because the rest of the driving experience is nicely polished.
The 2.0-litre engine has just enough punch to feel capable in traffic, but anything more than sedate progress requires a heavy right foot. Flatten the accelerator and the automatic kicks down, the revs rise, and you get more noise but not all that much of a shove in the back.
The CX-30 isn’t meant to be a sports car, but it lacks the effortless low-down shove you get from the turbocharged engines becoming more common in rivals. It also feels weedy alongside the more expensive 2.5-litre engine sitting above it in the range, which itself isn’t all that powerful.
It does feel reassuringly simple to drive, though. There’s no low-speed jerkiness from the torque converter, and the naturally-aspirated engine delivers its (limited) performance in a linear way that’ll make anyone stepping up from an older Mazda 3 or CX-3 feel right at home.
Mazda’s lane-keep assist system doesn’t try to wrestle the wheel from your hands if you drift towards the white lines, intervening smoothly when you need it, and the adaptive cruise does a good job maintaining a gap to the car in front. The learning curve here is much flatter than in some rivals.
It’s clear some real effort has been poured into polishing how the CX-30 drives. The ride is excellent; it keeps the worst potholes and pimply roads out, and is impressively settled on the highway, despite this being a small-ish car riding on big wheels.
Road and wind noise are impressively suppressed at 100km/h, which is indicative of how much Mazda has improved. Older examples of the 3 and 6 in particular were among the noisiest cars in their class on average Australian highways.
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.
CX-30 Pure highlights:
- 8.8-inch infotainment screen
- Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- 8-speaker sound system
- DAB+ digital radio
- Satellite navigation
- 16-inch alloy wheels
- 7.0-inch multi-information display
- Power-folding exterior mirrors
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter
- Keyless start
- Automatic headlights
- Automatic high-beam
CX-30 Evolve gains:
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Dual-zone climate control with rear air vents
- Paddle shifters
- Rear centre armrest
- Overhead sunglass holder
CX-30 G20e Evolve M Hybrid adds:
- Keyless entry
- Driver’s side auto-dimming mirror incl. tilt function, memory
- 10-way power driver’s seat with memory
CX-30 Touring adds:
- Front parking sensors
- Leather seat upholstery (black)
- Illuminated vanity mirrors
- Front parking sensors
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 models are fitted with:
- 7 airbags
- AEB in forward, reverse
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Lane-keep assist
- Traffic sign recognition
- Rear parking sensors
- Reversing camera
Optionally available on most models – though standard on the G20e Evolve M Hybrid, Touring SP, and Astina models – is the Vision Technology package that adds:
- Surround-view cameras
- Cruising and traffic support (traffic jam assist)
- Driver monitoring
- Front cross-traffic alert
- Front parking sensors
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. You can view Mazda’s service pricing guide here.
The CX-30 is still a handsome, well-equipped part of the immensely competitive small SUV crowd.
There’s something to be said for the simple, almost old-fashioned approach Mazda has taken behind the wheel, and the ride and handling balance is excellent.
Our Touring tester has close to everything you need in a luxurious little crossover, without the steep price tag of the Astina.
The weak link is the G20 2.0-litre engine, which is adequate for drivers who rarely leave the confines of the city but otherwise falls short.
We’d be stumping for the more powerful G25, which rounds out the CX-30 package with just enough extra punch.
Click the images for the full gallery
MORE: Everything Mazda CX-30