New in 2020, the Mazda CX-30 slots neatly between their entry level CX-3 and the mid-size CX-5 crossover SUV. While not much larger than the CX-3 this one leans into a more premium approach in its style and feature levels.
Styling is much in keeping with Mazda’s design language called “Kodo” which we’ve seen in the past decade. It’s sharp and crisp and features a higher level of detail in its sculpture and trims than many auto manufacturers offer up.
This is evident for example in its chrome grille surround that offers up depth and shape in relation to the surrounding surfaces. On our Premium AWD tester, LED adaptive headlamps and daytime running lights along with LED taillights keep you seen and seeing well at night.
Large wheel arch trims frame out its 18-inch alloy rollers well, giving it the off-road cred a crossover needs. Interesting I find too is handsome broad shouldered way it sits in the rear three-quarter view with its taillights as a defining accent or even an attitude in its presentation.
The interior is much along the lines of the Mazda3 with its rich collection of surface design and material quality. My tester had a very unique selection of brown soft trims with white accent stitching that contrasted against ivory leather upholstery. Along with the black backgrounds its downright fashionable.
Features abound with a head-up display and the upgraded 8.8-inch wide-screen infotainment display and a banging Bose audio system. The latter very visible and crisp to look at but using it through its console only mounted controls is not my favorite. Most other automakers have much more intuitive and easy to use touchscreen systems which are far easier to live with every day.
The cabin is very comfortable to live in with seats comfortable front and rear. Cargo capacity is what you’d expect in a coupe styled SUV which means slightly less though a power lift-gate on the Premium model makes it easy to get into.
Driving the CX-30 is really what sets it apart from its competition, offering a sporty and athletic persona around town and on the open road. Power comes from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an industry first cylinder deactivation program to save fuel.
It produces 186 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque which is delivered through an oldish 6-speed automatic transmission. It works well and shifts down when you stand on it for power and best of all isn’t yet polluted with an engine auto-start-stop system. That makes it worth buying alone.
My tester featured AWD but front-wheel drive is standard. The CX-30 features also an electronic torque vectoring program that helps keep all your tires doing their job equally, though with only 186 ponies it really can’t be all that hard if we’re honest.
Handling is firm and precise as I have come to expect with Mazda. It has a spring in its step that most brands pass over to give a more compliant less jarring ride. Thus suspension tuning is on the more firm side that most but gives you the confidence to gun it at the last minute and take that left turn at the traffic signal instead of stopping.
Priced at $31,645 including destination I find it to be a good value given its long list of premium features, design panache and driving pleasure.