Making driving fun – the 2021 Mazda CX-30
The Mazda3, whether it be the hatchback or sedan, has been a fan favorite for years. Fun, fast and practical, it checks all the right boxes for those who want something a little more exciting than your typical runabout. But these days, to the masses, it has to be an SUV or crossover for most buyers to take notice. So last year, Mazda responded by essentially taking a Mazda3 hatchback, raising its height, and calling it the Mazda CX-30.
Mazda slots the CX-30 between the CX-3 subcompact and the CX-5 compact SUV. Looking a lot like the smaller CX-3, the CX-30 is fitted with a little more black-plastic body cladding to make its statement. Underneath its sheetmetal, it is essential a Mazda3. As far as the name goes, I think calling it the CX-4 would have been more appropriate, but apparently Mazda had other things in mind.
In its debut year last year, every CX-30 was fitted with Mazda’s 2.5 liter Skyactive four-cylinder rated at 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, front wheel drive was standard while all-wheel drive was an available option.
For 2021, the 2.5 continues in the CX-30, but a turbocharged version has been added to the lineup. Making 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque or better yet, fill it up with 93-octane gas and those numbers go up to 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque, the turbo engine also includes all-wheel drive as a standard feature.
Other changes for 2021 include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto offered as standard equipment on all CX-30s.
Enter the CX-30 and brace yourself for a surprisingly simple yet upscale cabin. No cheap plastics can be found, just lots of soft leather with some chrome accents. Protruding from the leather dash is an 8.8 inch screen that is standard on all models. It’s not a touch screen, instead you use a dial on the center console to control it, just like in other vehicles from Mazda. To the right of the dial is the volume knob, to the left the electronic parking brake.
Interior space of the CX-30 is what you would expect in a vehicle of this size. The front seats are comfortable and should be no issue on long road trips. The belt line is a little high, making you look as if you are lower than you actually are. Rear seating offers more legroom than a CX-3, but don’t go thinking it’s a limo back there. In fact, there is seating for three in the rear, but I sure wouldn’t want to be that third rear passenger.
Just like in other Mazda’s the real joy of the CX-30 happens when you’re behind the wheel. Much like the Mazda3 hatchback, the CX-30 is nimble, athletic, and fun to drive. Its steering is crisp and its moves with such fluid and grace, making it a pleasure to pilot on a twisty roads. When simply cruising, it provides an excellent sense of stability.
The availability of the new turbo engine really adds a new performance dimension to the CX-30. Compared to the base engine that feels a little weak at low rpm, the Turbo’s solid low-end torque makes the CX-30 more exciting to drive. In fact, the CX-30 with the turbo is the quickest vehicle in its class – outrunning the likes of the Hyundai Kona, Kia Soul, and Subaru Crosstrek
Pricing for the CX-30 starts right at $23,425 for the base model, with the top-of-the-line Turbo Premium Plus carries a price tag of $35,640.
With the CX-30 Mazda continues to show that they have the recipe for a vehicle that provides utility, practicality and can still be fun to drive – all at an attractive price point.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2021 Mazda CX-30 Premium AWD
Base Price: $33,900.00
Price as Tested: $35,400.00
Layout: front-engine / all-wheel drive
Engine: 2.5 liter Skyactiv Turbocharged inline 4-cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Horsepower: 227 hp
Torque: 310 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 22 city / 30 highway mpg
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