The new trend in the automotive industry – whether you like it or not – is for manufacturers to develop high riding versions of their compact car models. The newest addition to this new class of vehicles is the 2020 Mazda CX-30 (not CX-4, you can’t call it that) and it is a slightly raised Mazda 3 Hatchback. But is that a bad thing?
Engine – Just like the Mazda 3, the 2020 Mazda CX-30 is offered with 2 engines. A base 2.0L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder with 155 hp and a more powerful 2.5L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder with 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. This particular CX-30 is the top GT trim so it comes equipped with the 2.5L engine and AWD. The great thing about naturally aspirated engines is that they have a very good throttle response and this one is no different. As soon as you put your foot down, the engine reacts immediately. There’s no waiting around for a turbocharger to spool up. Having said that though, 186 hp & lb-ft of torque is not a big amount when it has to move 1,537 kg of weight. For 80… maybe 90% of drivers who commute to work, it’s an adequate amount. But now Mazda has the brilliant 2.5L turbocharged engine in the CX-5 & Mazda6 which would make for a very peppy CX-30.
Fuel economy is good but not great. This CX-30 with cylinder deactivation is rated for 9.5 L/100km (24.8 mpg) in a city and 7.4 L/100km (31.8 mpg) on a highway. Good numbers that can be achieved in the real world but I was expecting them to be a little bit better. What’s interesting though is that the 2.0L CX-30 with AWD only gets slightly better fuel economy ratings in the city and a worse rating on a highway; 9.4 L/100km (25 mpg) & 7.7 L/100km (30.5 mpg) respectively.
Transmission – Whether you opt for the 2.0L or 2.5L engine, a 6-speed automatic is the only transmission that Mazda offers with the 2020 CX-30. If it were 2015 right now, I’d say that this is a very good transmission and I’d move on. But in 2020, this 6-speed is showing its age. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, shifts are smooth and gear changes happen quickly. But most other manufacturers offer 7, 8, or even 9-speed automatics that are smoother and faster still at swapping cogs. There are rumors that Mazda is working on an 8-speed automatic but that’s for a new inline-6 engine so it’s unknown if it will find its way onto the 4-cylinder engines.
Braking – Stopping the 2020 Mazda CX-30 takes little effort as the brakes provide a lot of stopping force. There is a bit of pitch in the body when braking really hard but the crossover stays straight & true. Automatic emergency braking is not standard on the CX-30 here in Canada – you have to go up a trim level – but it is standard if you’re reading this in the United States.
Handling – The CX-30 shines when it goes around corners. Mazda vehicles are known for being the more sporty options among mainstream auto manufacturers and this new CX-30 is no different. Steering weight and feel is well balanced for everyday commuting but it also feels communicative if that commute happens to go through a twisty mountain road.
Ride Comfort – Just like the handling, the suspension of the 2020 Mazda CX-30 is well balanced to provide a smooth ride but to also provide a dynamic driving experience. Bumps don’t shake the car too much and you don’t have to play “Minesweeper” when driving over a rougher road.
The seats are supportive and have a generous amount of padding for longer journeys. The driver gets a power adjustable seat but unfortunately the passenger has to make due with a manually adjustable seat even on this top spec trim.
Interior Space – Because the CX-30 is basically a raised Mazda 3, the proportions on the inside are quite similar. Yes, the CX-30 is slightly larger but not in all areas. The Mazda CX-30 has a bit more head room and leg room in the rear seats but it has slightly less leg room in the front seats compared to the Mazda 3 Sport. It’s a similar story in the trunk. The CX-30 only gets 3 extra Liters of cargo volume at 572 L (20.2 cu-ft) compared to the Mazda 3’s 569 L (20.1 cu-ft). Fold the rear seats and the Mazda 3 hatchback has more cargo capacity at 1,334 L (47.1 cu-ft) vs 1,280 L (45.2 cu-ft) for the CX-30.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The cabin of the CX-30 is very well insulated from outside noises. Engine, wind, and tire noises are very well subdued whether you’re in city traffic or on a highway at 100 km/h. The isolated feeling that the CX-30 gives you makes the crossover feel like the premium product that Mazda is aiming for.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The Mazda CX-30 receives the same convenience and safety features that are found in the latest generation of the Mazda 3. The CX-30 has Mazda’s new infotainment system which is much faster and prettier to look at. The 8.8-inch wide screen is not a touchscreen and has to be controlled via the rotary knob on the center console. For the most part, it’s quite intuitive to use however there are one or two instances that are not so intuitive, for example changing the radio station. You’d think it’s just a turn of the large knob but what that actually does is scroll through your favourites menu. The other issue with not having a touchscreen is that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were designed to work better with a touchscreen. Other than those two little niggles, the new Mazda infotainment is a big improvement over the last.
Other features that can be found in the Mazda CX-30 include heated seats, power liftgate, adaptive cruise control, a heads-up display, and a full suite of advanced safety features. But as mentioned earlier, in Canada the advanced safety features are only available on the GS and GT trims apart from blind spot sensors which are standard across all trims.
Interior Design – The interior is pretty much the same in design as the Mazda 3. The wide screen at the top of the dashboard is the predominant feature with very simple to use climate controls below it. The center console is home to the infotainment controls along with a couple of cup holders and a sliding armrest. All of the controls are easy to understand as to what they do and they have a very satisfying/premium feeling “click” to them when you use them. The rest of the interior has soft leather almost everywhere you lay your hands on. There is, what appears to be, black piano looking plastics on the center console surrounding the gear selector but it’s not quite black piano. When sunlight hits it, a pattern starts to show and this particular press vehicle didn’t have any signs of the traditional scratches that most vehicles with black piano plastics get after only a few thousand km.
Exterior Design – The overall shape of the 2020 Mazda CX-30 is similar to that of the Mazda 3. It has a similar grille, headlights, taillights, and egg-like hatch shape. But to make it look more like a crossover, Mazda decided to put a lot of plastic cladding along the lower parts of the CX-30. This plastic cladding just looks cheap and doesn’t give the CX-30 that premium look that Mazda is going for with their vehicles. The ride height is fine because it makes getting in and out a bit easier than the Mazda 3 but they should have just left it at that without all the plastics.
Mazda also tried to address the poor blind zone visibility of the Mazda 3 hatchback by incorporating a small window in the C-pillar of the CX-30. I can tell you that this little window does nothing for side blind zone visibility. Thankfully blind spot sensors are a standard feature on all Mazda CX-30s.
Overall the 2020 Mazda CX-30 is a good small crossover SUV. It has a more upscale and premium feel than other mainstream vehicles but with a price ranging from $23,950 CAD to $33,850 CAD ($21,900 USD – $28,200 USD), it doesn’t cost as much as luxury crossovers like the Lexus UX. Despite the little annoyances that I have with the CX-30 (the exterior plastic cladding, no touchscreen for infotainment, higher than expected fuel economy), the CX-30 is an excellent compact crossover SUV. If it’s a little bit too far on the sporty side, take a look at the Hyundai Kona as it is a bit more “traditional” than the CX-30. But overall the Mazda CX-30 needs to be near the top of your list if you’re considering this type of vehicle.
Thank you to Mazda Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Mazda.ca