Mazda’s CX-30 Turbo crossover doesn’t seem as small as a subcompact and is more premium in its interior presence than some in this segment

The front side view of the CX-30 Turbo

There is sophisticated simplicity to the Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo. (Mazda)

BY MARK MAYNARD

Horsepower isn’t everything at Mazda, but it makes a defining statement in the 2021 CX-30 Turbo subcompact crossover. This very likeable SUV crossover debuted just a year ago as callout to the brand’s drive toward premium — premium vehicles and premium dealership experiences.

The campaign focused on the refined touch points of vehicle interiors and fine-edge engineering under the skin. With, of course, the Mazda-infused love of driving.

For 2021, the 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder builds on the standard 186-hp, 2.5-liter non-turbo engine. Mazda says the turbo engine has a peak 250-horsepower when feeding the engine premium fuel or 227-hp with 87-octane junk food. Peak torque comes on strong with 320 foot-pounds at 2,500 rpm with premium fuel or 310 lb.-ft. torque at 2,000 rpm on 87 octane.

Industry sources say to expect a CX-30 midcycle freshening in 2023.

Interior of the Mazda CX-30

Inside, the CX-30 environment is lean, dark and determined. (Mazda)

Sizewise, the CX-30 slots between the subcompact CX-3 — which goes away after this year — and the compact CX-5. The CX-30 is marketed toward young drivers and couples starting a family. But its quiet and smartly designed interior will appeal to all ages.

Competitors include the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Venue, Jeep Compass, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and Nissan Rogue Sport.

CX-30 pricing

Sold in four trim levels for the standard 2.5-liter model and three choices for the 2.5 Turbo, all with a six-speed automatic transmission. The non-turbo models are front- or optional all-wheel drive. The Turbo models include AWD.

Starting prices for non-turbo models range from $23,335 to $29,875, including the $1,175 freight charge from Salamanca, Mexico. Add $1,400 for AWD.

For those who enjoy the zoom of driving a Mazda, the move up to the Turbo from a 2.5 Premium is just $1,350. The 2.5T has starting prices of $31,225, $33,625 and $35,225 for base, Premium and Premium Plus, today’s tester.

With four options, the top-line CX-30 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus AWD tester was $36,220, which seemed fully priced for a subcompact vehicle. But it is a showcase of advanced technologies in a crossover that doesn’t seem as small as a subcompact and is more premium in its interior presence than some in this segment.

Options on the tester included Soul Red crystal metallic paint, $595; all-weather floor mats, $125; cargo cover $150; and stainless-steel rear bumper guard. But I would have happily added another $295 for wireless phone charging. For any new vehicle costing more than $35K that simple electronic aid should be included in the standard equipment.

The Premium Plus elements include content of the Premium model, such as the heads-up windshield driving display, adaptive (turning) headlights, 12-speaker Bose audio, LED headlights and taillights, heated steering wheel, leather-trimmed upholstery, Mazda Navigation (with 3-year Traffic and Travel Link Trial), paddle shifters, a power liftgate and satellite radio.

Premium Plus adds an auto-dimming driver’s side mirror, Traffic Jam Assist, parking sensors front and rear, 360-deree view monitor, Smart City Brake Support-Reverse and rear cross-traffic braking.

Find special pricing offers here.

 

Interior detail in the door panel of the Mazda CX-30

The interior has layers of depth in the details with subtle use of brushed chrome and soft-touch materials. (Mazda)

CX-30 Turbo fuel economy

I’d opt for the thoroughbred (premium) fuel, even though fuel economy isn’t what you might expect of a subcompact SUV, though the turbo CX-30 has standard all-wheel drive. The official ratings are 22 mpg city, 30 highway and 25 mpg combined. In a week’s test, my driving brought an average of 19 to 22 mpg around town and up to 34.6 mpg for highway driving, which might have risen a bit higher on a longer commute.

Commuters could expect nearly 400 miles of driving range from the 12-gallon fuel tank.

Gearshift console in the CX-30

The six-speed automatic is an ideal match for quick shifts and keeping the engine in is power band. (Mazda)

CX-30 Turbo performance

With a curb weight of 3,505 pounds, the CX-30 Turbo has good power to weight. And it brings the eagerness expected of a turbocharged Mazda. Sport mode fills the acceleration gap between fuel economy and fun.

True to Mazda’s philosophy, the CX-30’s keen drivability shows the harmony of the hardware. With a well-engineered steel-spring suspension, the CX-30 has an appetite for apex cornering, despite a torsion-beam rear axle. A torsion beam axle is often used in small utes because it is flat and doesn’t cut into cargo space. But in nearly all other applications the torsion-beam setup feels unforgiving and clunky. Mazda engineering vaporized such concerns and the result is a sport sedan in little-ute pajamas.

Dive into a corner and there is no upsetting heave-ho as the suspension transitions the weight. The first time you experience this unexpected performance, you’ll want to do it again. The organically smooth electric steering and reassuring grip of four-wheel-disc braking have luxury-class refinement not expected of a mainstream subcompact.

Driver-assist technologies

Mazda’s i-Activsense safety package almost allows Level 2 semi-autonomous driving. The grouping of technologies includes radar cruise control with stop and go function (0 to 90 mph), lane departure warning with lane-keep assist and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

The calibrations of lane-keeping assist will not prevent the car from crossing the highways lines or Botts dots. But it does alert the driver and will guide the car back into the lane when needed. Just don’t drive without hands on the wheel.

CX-30 safety features

The stars shine brightly for the CX-30 in NHTSA’s crash-test ratings: It earned the government agency’s highest five-star overall rating for driver and front passenger; five stars in the side crash test for front and rear seats; and four stars for low rollover risk. Learn more at SaferCar.gov.

Standard safety features include eight air bags, electronic brake-force distribution with brake-assist, driver attention alert and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

Handcrafted finesse

There is nothing disruptive in the exterior styling, which is pleasing and balanced, though the body looks large for its wheels. The separator is inside and how Mazda expanded roominess to almost compact-class accommodations.

There is handcrafted appeal in the Premium models. The leather-trimmed upholstery is tender to the touch and beautifully stitched for a patina that will age handsomely.

CX-30 interior

Inside, the environment is lean, dark and determined with slender finesse. There is subtle use of brushed chrome, soft-touch manmade materials and gloss-black or carbon trim elements. Even the plastics appear to be of the same caliber throughout — without a ragged edge.

There is an openness to the front-seat area. There are 37.8 inches of headroom, with the sunroof, but it might not be suited to all members of the big and tall club. Sightlines are good at the side mirrors. They stand on their own and aren’t attached at base of the windshield pillars, which often creates a long blockage. But the smallish back glass and wrap of the pillar are limiting to rear-corner views.

Driver controls are refreshingly simple. The slim shelf of controls for heat-AC-fan works well for aim-and-touch adjustments while keeping eyes on the road. The 8.8-inch-wide top screen gives a broad view for navigation and vehicle info. But the rearview camera image uses a smaller portion of the screen when wider would be better. And even a front view would be helpful, or at least parking alerts, to avoid poking the shark nose into whatever is ahead.

The glove-soft leather of the three-spoke steering wheel made me want to keep both hands on the wheel, which is heated in the Premium Plus.

Back seat and cargo area

The subcompactness of the CX-30  is felt in the back seat, but the doors open wide to aid access or to reach a child seat. The raised bench is comfortable — for smaller adults — with lots of footroom. There is a respectable 36.3 inches of max legroom, but the tall exhaust-transmission tunnel limits three-across comfort. There are no charging ports, though a cable stretched from the USB in the front armrest box could suffice.

There’s a usable square of cargo space, 20.2 cubic feet, but fold the 60/40 seats for about 5.3 feet of length.

CX-30 cargo area

There is a functional cargo space of 20.2 cubic feet. Fold the 60/40 seats for about 5.3 feet of length. (Mazda)

Why buy the Mazda CX-30 Turbo?

There is a sophisticated simplicity to the CX-30 2.5 Turbo. It is a discriminating entry that demonstrates the Mazda mantra of “why, how and what a vehicle should be.” For drivers who enjoy driving, there are intangible rewards to ownership.

A rear view of the Mazda CX-30

The Soul Red Premium Plus AWD tester was $36,220. (Mazda)

SPECIFICATIONS

2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus AWD

Body style: subcompact, 5-seat, 5-door SUV crossover

Engine: Skyactiv-G direct-injected and turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder

Power: 250-hp using premium fuel or 227-hp with 87 octane); 320 lb.-ft. torque at 2,500 rpm on premium fuel or 310 lb.-ft. torque at 2,000 rpm with 87 octane

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Fuel economy: 22/30/25 mpg city/hwy/combined; premium recommended

FEATURES

Standard equipment includes: smart-key locking with push-button ignition, power sliding-glass moonroof, rearview camera, radar cruise control with stop and go, 8-way power driver seat with power lumbar  and memory presets, heated front seats, electric parking brake,  60/40 split fold-down back seat, rear privacy glass, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob

Safety features include: 8 air bags, electronic brake-force distribution and brake-assist, driver attention alert and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert

PRICING

Base CX-30 Turbo price: $35,225, including $1,175 freight charge. Price as tested $36,220

Options on test vehicle: cargo cover $150; all-weather floor mats $125; Soul Red metallic paint $595; and stainless-steel rear bumper cover $150

Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper with roadside assistance and 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain

Mark Maynard

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