Mazda CX-30: A cannibal that waits to pounce?

Riley Riley


What is it?

I struggle with the raison d’etre for this car.

Why do we need a model that sits between the small CX-3 and medium-sized CX-5?

Is there room for all three or will the arrival of the CX-30 cannibalise sales of one or both?

CX-3 is 4275mm long, CX-30 is 4395mm, and CX-5 is 4545mm long.

Cx-3 shares a platform with the Mazda2, with a wheelbase of 2570mm, CX-30 shares a platform with Mazda3, with a wheelbase of 2655mm, and Cx-5 shares a platform with Mazda6, with a wheelbase of 2700mm.

Rear legroom in CX-3 is 888mm, CX-30 921mm, and CX-5 1007mm.

Them’s the figures. In reality CX-3 is tiny, rear legroom in CX-30 is disappointing and CX-5 has plenty of room all round.

Mazda says CX-30 provides roominess and space without compromising on styling or the manoeuvrability needed for city living.

It’s invested plenty of ergonomic research to deliver what it describes as a “human-centric” cabin design, with premium materials and advanced technology adding to its comfort and safety package.

Yeah, but what’s it really like?


What’s it cost?

CX-30 is offered in four grades — Pure, Evolve, Touring and Astina — with 13 combinations to choose from.

Prices start from $29,990 for the front-wheel, drive 2.0-litre G20 Pure. Top of the range all-wheel drive, 2.5-litre G25 Astina commands $43,490.

Our test vehicle, the value packed Touring model, is priced from $34,990 with the 2.0-litre engine, or $36,490 with the larger, more powerful 2.5-litre unit.

All-wheel drive adds $3500 to the price, while the Vision pack lifts the figure a further $1300, taking the final number to $39,790 — all figures before on road costs.

Standard kit includes aircon, cloth trim, 16-inch alloys, push-button start, electric parking brake with auto hold, auto LED head and tail lights, auto high beam, auto wipers, rear park sensors, and auto up/down for all windows.

The 8.8-inch Mazda Connect infotainment system integrates satellite navigation as standard, plus digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with 8-speaker audio (but it’s not a touchscreen).

Standard safety systems include seven airbags including a driver’s knee bag, rear view camera, Active Driving Display (headup) Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Land Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Departure Assist (LDA), Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Smart Brake Support (SBS), Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR) and Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) with Stop & Go.

Not too shabby for the entry level model?

G25 Touring comes with larger 18-inch wheels, two zone climate, and overhead sunglasses storage, together with black leather trim, auto dimming exterior mirrors, exterior mirror with reverse tilt, exterior mirrors with position memory,  front park sensors, power adjust driver’s seat with 2-position memory and vanity mirrors with illumination.

Astina gets the Vision Technology pack as standard, which includes  a 360 degree camera, Cruising & Traffic Support (CTS), Front Cross Traffic Alert (FCTA) and Driver Monitoring.


What’s it go like?

The 2.0-litre engine produces 114kW of power and 200Nm at 4000 rpm (0-100km/h 10.2 sconds).

The 2.5-litre engine in our tester delivers 139kW and 252Nm at 4000 rpm (0-100km/h 8.7 for front-wheel drive or 9.1 seconds with all-wheel drive).

Both are naturally aspirated and both mated to a 6-speed auto, with steering wheel-mounted gear shift paddles and all-wheel drive if you want it?

Getting in and out of the car is a snack thanks to the raised ride height and wide opening doors.

But getting into the back is more difficult, thanks to a sloping rear roofline and elevated rear seat.

And, once you’re in, it’s a little too snug for our liking — our knees were touching the scooped out back of the front seat.

The front is a roomier and more pleasant place to be, with a dash and switch gear that are lift from Mazda3, including a configurable instrument panel.

Put your foot on the brake, push the start button and your away (unless of course you forget to release the handbrake which happens often).

It’s not as quick off the mark as we anticipated, nor for that matter was the 2.5-litre Mazda3 — and this one weighs more.

Mazda says it invested a lot of time on the ergonomic design of the cabin.

That may be, but sitting in the driver’s seat and looking at the controls — it feels plush but just like any other car otherwise.

In fact, the seat cushioning is quite firm and and you may find yourself flexing your bum to get some relief.

The cabin is however very quiet and the ride is excellent on smooth bitumen.

On less refined roads out of town it develops a repetitive jitter that becomes irritating.

Although acceleration isn’t sparkling, throttle response is actually quite strong in the mid-range where the car spends most of its time.

Sport mode adds an edge, but you need to flick the transmission over to manual mode and start using the paddles to really get going.

At a certain speed our test vehicle spent a lot of time chopping and changing between third and fourth gear, with some jerkiness as a result — call it hunting if you like.

The steering is accurate and responsive, the brakes are excellent and it sits remarkably flat in corners for an SUV when pushed hard, with G-vectoring to help  maintain mid-corner control.

With a 51-litre tank, CX-30 takes standard 91 unleaded, with cylinder deactivation and auto engine stop-start to help save fuel.

The 2.0-litre model is good for 6.5L/100km, while the front-drive 2.5 returns 6.6L/100km and the 2.5 all-wheel drive, 6.8.

Our test vehicle the front-wheel drive G25 Touring was showing 7.6L/100km after more than 560km of mixed driving.


What we like?

  • Stylish
  • Love the red paint
  • Quiet inside the cabin
  • Biggish boot
  • Rear air vents
  • Handles well for an SUV
  • Standard satnav
  • Head up display reasonably visible with polarised sunglasses


What we don’t like?

  • Lacks character
  • Lacks motivation
  • Limited rear legroom
  • No speed camera warnings
  • Electric hand brake is a pain
  • Space saver spare
  • Small hard to see steering wheel controls
  • Expected better fuel consumption


The bottom line?

I don’t dislike the CX-30, but then again I don’t find anything particularly attractive about this car.

Then again, I wasn’t too fussed about the Mazda3 on which it is based either, despite the number of awards it has received.

I would have expected more rear legroom, which is sorely lacking in the CX-3 — but full-size adults will still find this one a little cosy.


CHECKOUT: Mazda3: Numbers not so good

CHECKOUT:Mazda MX-5: The spin wins a grin


Mazda CX-30 G25 Touring, priced from $36,490
  • Looks - 7.5/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 7.5/10
  • Practicality - 7.5/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 8/10