2020 Mazda CX-30 review

The stylish Mazda CX-30 is based on the Mazda 3 hatchback and bridges the size gap between the size-gap between the CX-3 crossover and CX-5 medium SUV

Mazda CX-30
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Styling, standard features, safety tech, steering
Not so much
  •   Interior space, boot capacity

What stands out?

The stylish Mazda CX-30 bridges the size-gap between the CX-3 crossover and CX-5 medium SUV. Based on the Mazda 3 it shares much of the hatchback’s features and technology and ticks the boxes for dynamics, ride comfort, cabin quality and style.

What might bug me?

How being one of the first to buy an all-new Mazda CX-30 meant missing out on the option to get the revolutionary new, highly efficient SkyActiv X petrol engine. This was meant to be available in Australia by the end of 2019 but has been delayed until about October 2020.

Spending more on an Evolve, Touring or Astina version only to experience a harder ride than you’d get in the cheaper G20 Pure. The other three have bigger 18-inch wheels with lower-profile tyres that don’t absorb bumps as well.

Complaints from the rear seats about the lack of legroom. Despite being bigger than the CX-3, the CX-30’s rear-seat space is just as tight.

What body styles are there?

Five-door wagon only.

The CX-30 IS available with front- or all-wheel drive and is classed as a small SUV, lower priced.

What features do all CX-30 versions have?

A multimedia system built around an 8.8-inch colour screen and controlled by a dial on the centre console. The screen displays images from a reversing camera, satellite navigation, as well as settings for AM/FM/Digital radio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.

AUX, USB inputs and Bluetooth connectivity for mobile devices, and sound system.

Autonomous emergency braking (Mazda calls it Smart City Brake Support) which uses a camera-based system that can detect an impending collision with a car, pedestrian or cyclist ahead and apply the brakes automatically, perhaps avoiding a crash. It also works in reverse, which helps prevent parking accidents. (For more on Mazda CX-3 safety systems, please open the Safety section below.)

Head-up display, and traffic sign recognition.

Auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

Adaptive cruise control with stop and go, speed limiter, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and lane-keeping assist.

LED headlights with auto on-off, and auto high-beam control.

Keyless entry, and push-button start.

Rear parking sensors, and electric folding mirrors.

Height and reach adjustment for the steering wheel, and buttons on the wheel for operating the cruise control, audio system and your phone. Height adjustment for both front seats.

Hill-launch assist, which controls the brakes automatically to help you start from rest on an uphill slope.

Air-conditioning, electric parking brake, and rain-sensing windscreen wipers.

Wheels made from aluminium alloy (which are lighter and nicer looking than steel wheels with plastic covers). A space-saver spare wheel, with a recommended maximum speed of 80km/h.

G-Vectoring Control, a Mazda technology that makes the car respond more consistently to the steering wheel.

Electronic stability control, which helps the driver recover from skids. (All new cars must have this feature.)

Six airbags.

The Mazda CX-30 is covered by a five-year warranty, with no limit on kilometres driven.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

The G20 and G25 prefix with each CX-30 version denotes their engine size. The G20 refers to the 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol (G stands for gasoline) engine, which is the more fuel-efficient of the two, consuming as little as 6.5 litres/100km in the official test (city and country combined).

This is the only engine choice for the Pure and Evolve specs, and one of two engine options available in the more expensive Touring and Astina versions. This engine is the same one that is under the bonnet of the current and previous-model Mazda 3 and is an excellent unit.

The sportier  G25 Touring, G25 Astina models are available only with a bigger and more powerful 2.5-litre petrol that also carries over from the third-generation Mazda 3. It brings you about 25 per cent more thrust in most driving conditions, which is not necessary but brings swifter overtaking and, for some drivers, more fun, with only a slight increase in fuel consumption.

The G25 versions are available with front- or all-wheel-drive, with the latter adding about $2000 to the price.

Both engines have a stop-start system that cuts fuel use in city driving. It shuts down the engine whenever you stop, and starts it automatically when you take your foot off the brake pedal to drive away (or in manuals, depress the clutch pedal).

There is no manual gearbox option with a Mazda CX-30, with all versions equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Later this year, Mazda will introduce the new SkyActiv X engine that will provide superior power and torque without additional fuel consumption. This is expected to be an extra cost option for the more powerful G25 variants.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

Step past the least costly model, the G20 Pure, and spend more for the G20 Evolve and you get a more welcoming feel in the cabin, with the steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake lever trimmed in leather, 16-inch alloy wheels and paddle shifters for manually controlling the automatic gearbox.

The G20 Evolve also adds dual-zone climate control that lets the driver and front passenger set their own temperature and fan settings. It also gains a centre fold-down armrest on the back seat, rear air-vents, and bigger and sportier 18-inch alloy wheels with wider tyres that have shallower sidewalls (giving you more grip and sharper steering response).

Spend more again for a G20 Touring and the cloth seat trim of the less costly versions are replaced with a mix of real and fake leather in black. The driver’s seat has 10-way power adjustment and two-position memory setting for the rear-view mirrors. You also get advanced keyless entry, auto-dimming driver’s side mirror, front parking sensors, illuminated vanity mirrors in the sun visors, and an overhead sunglass storage box.

Spending around $2000 on the G25 Touring brings the same features but the more powerful 2.5-litre engine with front-wheel-drive. All-wheel-drive adds another $2000 to the price.

The G20 and G25 Astina gain a sunroof, 12-speaker Bose audio system, adaptive LED headlights, and rear- and front-cross traffic alert. You can also specify your Astina with Pure White leather upholstery instead of the standard black leather trim for no extra cost.

Each Astina version also gains a Vision Technology package that adds a 360-degree parking monitor, driver distraction/fatigue monitoring, and front-cross traffic alert, and more advanced adaptive cruise control technology which works more smoothly in slower traffic.

The Vision Technology package is $1500 option for all other CX-30 versions. Adding it to the Pure and Evolve versions also brings front parking sensors.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

The 2.5-litre petrol engine uses about 5 per cent more fuel than the 2.0-litre petrol.

The lower profile, wider tyres on all but the G20 Pure decrease ride comfort, because there is less air between the wheel and the road. These tyres may also cost more to replace.

Of the eight available paint finishes, five come at no extra cost. The other three, Soul Crystal Red, Machine Grey Metallic and Polymetal Grey Metalic cost about $500 more.

How comfortable is the CX-30?

Mazda’s decision to give its cars a more upmarket feel has meant having to pay a bit more, but you do get your money’s worth with a luxurious and pleasing driving experience.

The cabin is testament to excellent ergonomic design starting with the superb multi-function steering and comfortable seats with a low-slung driving position.

Road noise and vibration levels are well suppressed, with only the occasional disturbance from the suspension over significant potholes. Still, drive the CX-30 as sedately as most owners will and it’s a very competent package.

The uncluttered interior design that’s very similar to the Mazda 3 is another highlight. User-friendliness is evident in things like the easy-reach dual cup holders forward of the shifter, and the intuitive placement of buttons.

The 8.8-inch multimedia screen is positioned far enough from the driver to reduce the eye-focussing time from the road ahead to the display, while the elegant rotary controller makes it easier to control functions with minimal distraction.

The head-up display is one of the clearest in the business and provides eyes-ahead clarity for navigation and speed-sign recognition is excellent.

What about safety in a CX-30?

Six airbags, stability control, seatbelt reminders on all seats, and rear parking sensors, contribute to a well-rounded safety package on all Mazda CX-30s.

In addition, every CX-30 comes with Smart City Brake Support Forward – a significantly enhanced version of the autonomous emergency braking system that also recognises pedestrians and cyclists.

The addition of a radar sensor to the auto-braking system extends its operating range to 160km/h. And Lane Keep Assist acts to guide the car back into its lane if you have begun to drift distractedly across the roadway.

All CX-30s have a reversing camera and rear parking sensors to help you check back there yourself. The Touring and Astina versions have front parking sensors.

The Astina also benefits from a 360-degree camera display to help you see obstacles around the vehicle, front-cross traffic alert, driver fatigue alert and more advanced active cruise control that works better at lower speeds. All these features are available with the other CX-30 versions in an extra-cost Vision Technology pack that also brings front-parking sensors to the Pure and Evolve versions.

All CX-30s have a blind-spot monitor that alerts you, when you indicate to change lanes, if it detects another car near your rear corner but out of view of your mirrors. And a rear cross-traffic alert helps you avoid trouble when reversing out of parking spaces or driveways, warning you if it detects a vehicle approaching from either side. Front-cross traffic alert does the same when forwarding.

Another handy standard feature is Traffic Sign Recognition, which helps you keep track of speed limits. It reads roadside signs and shows the most recently detected limit on your head-up display.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Mazda CX-30 five stars, the highest rating, in February 2020. It scored high across each category including 99 percent for adult occupant protection.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

Yes. The CX-30 shares the Mazda 3 hatchback’s brilliantly responsive steering set-up that manages to balance slow speed manoeuvring with high-speed handling without the need for different steering modes.

But it's still a high-riding SUV and while it handles better than most of its rivals, the ride feels a little fussy with suspension is prone to jarring when encountering potholes. This is less pronounced in the cheapest CX-30, the G20 Pure who’s smaller, chubby-tyred 16-inch alloys absorb to a good job of absorbing road imperfections.

The Skyactiv-G 2.0-litre engine in the G20 versions copes admirably with city life and has enough power for easy highway touring. It revs freely and mates well with the six-speed automatic gearbox.

While this engine does not thrust as hard when you first press the accelerator as the turbo engines in some small-SUV alternatives, it is keen from there and it even sounds a bit rorty.

The bigger, 2.5-litre petrol engine in the GP25s is also a good fit for the CX-30 and offers about 25 per cent more go than the 2.0-litre. With the added grunt the car feels deliciously responsive, and its driveability is abetted the automatic transmission's immaculate gear changes.

The Mazda CX-30 also benefits from Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control, whose operating principle is simpler than the name might suggest. It adjusts the engine when you turn the steering wheel, decelerating slightly so as to transfer load to the front tyres and help them bite (and reversing the process as you return to centre). You don’t notice it working but the car feels more planted while changing direction more fluidly.

How is life in the rear seats?

Despite its bigger frame, the CX-30 has about the same interior space as the smaller CX-30, meaning rear-seat knee and toe room is tighter than expected, while headroom can be described as adequate rather than abundant.

If you’re sitting behind a taller driver it’s likely your knees will be touching the front seats. The good news is the seatbacks seem designed with this in mind and are quite soft so you’re not uncomfortable. As in all small SUVs, three full-sized adults across the rear is a squeeze.

All CX-30s except for the G20 Pure have rear air vents and a centre armrest with cup holders, but none come with rear USB outlets which are becoming increasingly common in the back of rival models.

Like the CX-3, the CX-30 has a high window line which limits side vision for children.

How is it for carrying stuff?

Opening the tailgate reveals a 317-litre boot space that’s a little tight for a small SUV, however extra storage under the boot floor extends capacity to 430 litres. The rear seats can split 60:40 to help you carry bigger stuff.

All CX-30s have a handy 1200kg/600kg braked/unbraked towing capacity, which allows them to tow small trailers.

Where is the Mazda CX-30 made?

All Mazda CX-30 versions are made in Japan.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

Until the new Skyactiv-X engine appears later in 2020, a punchier turbocharged engine as found in a host of small-SUV rivals including Toyota C-HR, Kia Seltos, Citroen C3 Aircross, Hyundai Kona, Renault Kadjar, Skoda Karoq, and Volkswagen Tiguan.

If you face a lot of city commuting, possibly a fuel-saving petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain as available in the Toyota C-HR hybrid.

Other stylish small-SUV alternatives the CX-30’s smaller stablemate the CX-3, Subaru XV, Honda HR-V, and the Lexus UX whose starting price is about the same as the G25 Astina.

And, if you really enjoy driving, it could be worth checking out the Mazda 3 hatch or sedan that apart from the lower ride height is virtually identical to the CX-30 when it comes to features and interior layout.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

The smart money seems to be on the GP20 Astina FWD that comes fully laden with features and leather trim at a mid-spec price. If most of your driving is around town you won’t really miss the extra power of the G25 version or the all-wheel-drive traction.

If you’re on a budget the G20 Evolve looks also represents good value.

Are there plans to update this model soon?

Not really. The Mazda CX-30 arrived box fresh at the beginning of 2020. The only change on the horizon, before a slight update toward the end of 2021, is the introduction of the new, ultra-efficient, SkyActiv-X engine to the range about October 2020.
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Styling, standard features, safety tech, steering
Not so much
  •   Interior space, boot capacity


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