You really need to think of the Mazda CX-30 as an upsized Mazda3 hatchback, picture an upscale subcompact crossover. Both vehicles are built on the same platform, have common design elements inside and out, and share their polished road manners.
Like the Mazda3 Turbo, CX-5, and Mazda6, the Mazda CX-30 Turbo’s big addition is a force-inducted 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and standard all-wheel drive. This equates to 250 hp and 320 lb-ft using 93 octane and 227 hp and 310 lb-ft on regular. This does mark a huge and noticeable improvement over the base engine, which offers an adequate 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. The new engine and its associated hardware add less than 100 pounds to the curb weight and contribute to a mere 1-mpg drop in its EPA combined fuel economy, 25 mpg versus 26 for a comparable model with the 2.5.
The extra power is great when your foot is to the floor, but in regular driving the extra hp doesn’t necessarily make its presence known. Off the line there’s an extra degree of initial motivation and in city driving it’s easy to forget that the turbo is there at all. It is mostly noticed as you merge onto the highway and it is appreciated, passing, too, is much easier.
Sharp steering is a Mazda hallmark that the CX-30 Turbo maintains. Changes to the suspension account for the turbocharged 2.5-liter’s added weight, which results in stiffer springs and dampers. A reinforced rear differential handles the increased torque, while small tweaks to the Sport mode increase the power of the G-Vector Control Plus system, giving the CX-30 a tighter response on turn-in. On the transmission front, a six-speed automatic remains, although with ever so slightly shorter gearing. Although Sport mode does make the CX-30 Turbo feel quicker, it highlights how the car isn’t actually all that sporty.
On the outside you can spot the CX-30 Turbo model by its black wheels and exterior mirrors, larger tailpipes, brushed-aluminum roof rails, and the discreet Turbo badge on its liftgate. Exterior styling remains one of the CX-30’s best attributes, more elegant and mature than most other subcompact crossovers.
That continues inside, hard plastics are tactfully hidden while plush surfaces and substantial-feeling switchgear fall readily to hand. It features a driver-focused control arrangement, a heated steering wheel and front seats, and Mazda’s latest 8.8-inch infotainment system with a control knob on the center console. Although the CX-30’s rear-seat passengers benefit from a touch more headroom than they would in the Mazda3 hatchback, space in back is still tight for adults and the 20 cubic feet of cargo space is the same as a Mazda3 hatch. Compare that with Mazda‘s own CX-5 and you’ll find 50 percent more cargo space and an extra 2.5 inches of legroom. Still, the overall appearance supports its premium ambitions.
Our loaner vehicle was fully loaded this included features such as rear parking sensors, a higher-resolution 360-degree camera system, automatic reverse emergency braking with rear cross-traffic alert, and low-speed steering assistance for the adaptive cruise control. Along with a few accessory extras, the as-tested price came to $35,625. The CX-30 has entered an incredibly competitive part of the market, the Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring, a loaded-up Hyundai Santa Fe SEL, a Jeep Cherokee Limited, a Ford Edge SEL, an Audi Q3 40 Premium Plus, and a bare-bones Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 are all available within $1,000 to $2,000 of our $35,720 as-tested price.
The 2021 Mazda CX-30 Turbo is by no means a bad car. The CX-30 looks great, handles nicely, and presents an upscale interior. No, it’s not quick, but a big increase in engine output isn’t what it needs most. On the merits of just being a subcompact crossover, this is an attractive option that features a gorgeous cabin, an impressive roster of safety equipment, and the kind of performance that makes everyday driving a breeze; it just falls in a very competitive marketplace where other options might catch your eye.
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