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Recently Driven

2020 Mazda CX-30

By: Ron Corbett, APA Staff Writer      


The CX-30 is yet another elegant vehicle from Mazda 

Bigger than the CX-3 and smaller than the CX-5, Mazda’s newest crossover would have logically been named CX-4 instead of CX-30. However, Mazda introduced a non-related CX-4 in the Chinese market for the 2017 and didn’t want to cause the confusion of having two different cars using the same name.

Model mix
The CX-30 is offered with two normally-aspirated engines, a 2L with 155 horsepower in the GX and a 186 horsepower 2.5L that is standard on the GS and GT trims. Power reaches the front or all four wheels, via a six-speed automatic transmission. Mazda has announced a turbocharged model for the 2021 model year. 

Vehicle Tested 2020 Mazda CX-30 GT
Body style Four-door crossover
Engine 2.5L-4 (186 horsepower)
Transmission Six-speed automatic
Base MSRP  $33,850
Price as tested  $34,300 (includes $450 Soul Red Mica paint)
NRCan combined fuel economy  8.3L/100 km
Observed fuel economy  9.2L/100 km

Like other recent Mazda's, the exterior design is very clean but also manages to incorporate a high degree of surface tension into its minimalist flanks. Styling details like the lighting and bright trim border on the inspired.

The cabin incorporates many of the same pieces as the 3, and like its passenger car sibling, radiates a Zen-like elegance rendered from attractive materials that are plush enough as to make some luxury carmakers blush with embarrassment. The simple, traditional looking gauges (the speedo is actually transistor film technology) and simple, logical controls, are very chic. Some steering wheel-mounted controls, with pale orange markings on faux alloy backgrounds, look great but are too faint to be of much use. The climate controls could also be better marked but their operation becomes straightforward once you know where they are. Mazda’s rotary-dial infotainment controller can lead to the driver being lost among the menus, but once accustomed to it, it is easier to manipulate while driving than the touch screens used by other carmakers.

The greater cabin height of the CX-30 compared to the 3, delivers increased spaciousness front and rear. If front occupants show some consideration for those in the rear, four adults can be carried reasonably comfortably in the CX-30. Cargo space will prove sufficient for most users but is no better than it would be in a compact hatchback. The seats are comfortable, front and rear, and our GT tester, with a black, white and dark brown colour scheme, was very stylish. Attractive faux alloy accents brightened the interior. The CX-30 has a more elegant cabin than luxury-branded vehicles like the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and even the new Audi Q3.

Though it looks like the analogue gauges that flank it, the speedometre is a transister film technology display

The climate system is compact and easily manipulated once you find the fan speed and air distrubution buttons 


 Large format infotainment screen has crisp graphics

The wheel and four surrounding buttons that control the infotainment functions. The system is easier to use while driving than a touch screen 

 Faux alloy buttons with faint orange markings don't make for legibility  


Everything you need with no extraneous decoration. Chic three-tone cabin is rendered from attractive components


The regularly-shaped cago area is deep below the window line and luxuriously finished 

The 2.5L normally-aspirated four in our GT tester was a delight. It spins happily, delivers a pleasing soundtrack, and is more than powerful enough for the car.

The conventional, hydraulic, six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, downshifts on command and is geared to deliver good acceleration as well as relaxed cruising.

The CX-30’s steering is direct, perfectly weighted and even telegraphs some road surface information back to the driver.

Braking is strong, with a nice, firm pedal, and no lost motion.

Despite its large 18 inch wheels, the CX-3O rides with a firm compliance that never transmits road shock to the cabin.

Handling allies well with crisp turn-in and lean-free cornering.

On the road, the CX-30 feels like a very expensive car.

The small side windows don’t really impede visibility when driving but are a problem for drive-thru habitués who will struggle to get a larger than medium coffee through the driver’s window.

Air-conditioning keeps occupants cool even during sweltering weather.

The name-brand audio system in our GT testers delivers pleasing sounds that can be widely tailored to individual tastes.  

Mazda's normally-aspirated 2.5L four is smooth, flexible and delivers good performance 

The $23,950 front-wheel drive CX-30 GX is the least-expensive CX-30. All-wheel drive, standard on the GT, is a $2000 option on the GX and GS trims. Even the base GX features blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors, L.E.D. headlamps, an eight-speaker audio system and a cargo blind. The GS adds a forward collision warning, including for pedestrians, active cruise control with stop and go, lane keep assist and a heated steering wheel at a bargain price. The GS Luxury package, with a power driver’s seat, sunroof, a memory seat as well as a few other minor items, is priced to reflect the value of the additional equipment. Compared with an all-wheel drive GS with the Luxury group, the GT trim, which includes leather upholstery, navigation, a branded audio system, Keyless entry and Go, and a wealth of comfort and convenience items, is a terrific value. The CX-30 GT may not have as much rear seat legroom or cargo space as a CX-5 GT, but it is a newer vehicle, is even nicer to drive and is nearly $4000 cheaper that its larger showroom mate.

The normally-aspirated engines and conventional six-speed automatic transmission employed in the CX-30 are nothing fancy, but have proven reliable in other Mazdas and deliver equal or better performance to the more complex powertrain choices made by other carmakers. The rest of the CX-30, assembled from a basket of components that have been reliable in other Mazdas and should be reliable here as well. Mazda’s warranty, three years with unlimited mileage on the basic car, and five years with unlimited mileage on the powertrain, is either a bold statement from Mazda that their cars will be reliable, or something that will come back to bite them if it all goes pear-shaped.

Knowing when to "lift the pen" has become a Mazda hallmark and has led to a series of very stylish vehicles. This view highlights the small side windows that can make going to a drive-thru a bit of a struggle   

Like with other recent Mazdas, the exterior of the CX-30 displays a seldom-rivalled, clean elegance. With a pared-back, Zen-like luxury, the cabin of the CX-30 echoes the spare design ethos clearly evident on the outside.

Given that, in global terms, Mazda is a small company with limited resources, it is amazing that over the last few years they have released a series of elegant , refined, fun-to-drive vehicles that punch well above their weight in their respective categories. That the cars also seem to be reliable is just icing on the cake.