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Mazda CX-30 2020 review: Touring FWD

The CX-30 not only looks good, but feels great too.
EXPERT RATING
7.5
The Mazda CX-30 not only plugs a reasonable gap in Mazda's SUV range but does so with an intriguing car; it's the compact SUV that is more hatch than fake off-roader, and all the better for it.

A red-letter day is upon you, everyone. It's not every day a new SUV lands on these pages. Actually, that's a straight-out lie - a month hasn't gone by in the last three years without some new SUV being  announced. Why, mere days have passed since Geely launched another one to great acclaim in the Chinese market.

This one, though, is a little different. And it's a car that its maker has somewhat dragged its feet on, a car I know people have wbeen waiting for. At first glance, the Mazda CX-30 seems to indicate that the Japanese company have caught Audi's penchant for niche-creation, but when you realise what it is, it actually makes perfect sense.

This car plugs the genuinely substantial gap between the tiny, Mazda2-based CX-3 and the larger CX-5. Based on Mazda's rather excellent Mazda3, it brings a smaller, lower package than the CX-5, without losing too much of the utility.

Mazda CX-30 2020: G20 TOURING (FWD)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.5L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$34,990

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

Like the 3, the CX-30 isn't particularly cheap. The G20 Pure kicks off the range at under $30,000 but this G20 Touring, the third rung in the eight-step range (if you ignore Vision Package-equipped variants as distinct models, which makes the number 12) finds its way into your garage for $34,990.

This G20 Touring, the third rung in the eight-step range, is $34,990. This G20 Touring, the third rung in the eight-step range, is $34,990.

For that you get 18-inch alloys, an 8.8-inch media screen, keyless entry and start, electric driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, leather trim, eight-speaker stereo, leather steering wheel and shift, auto LED headlights, auto high beam, auto wipers, active cruise control, power windows and mirrors, reversing camera, auto LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, sat nav and a space-saver spare. The Touring also gets auto rear-vision mirror tipping to help with parking.

You get 18-inch alloys. You get 18-inch alloys.

The MZD Connect system is exactly the same across the whole range and features the new system and screen first seen in the 3. Controlled solely by the console-mounted rotary dial - old versions allowed touchscreen interaction when stationary - it looks superb in all its monochromatic glory, as well as featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It's a terrific system and not too complex or annoying to navigate.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

This is another lovely one from Mazda. Some have complained it looks too much like other Mazdas, but this is like saying there are too many beautiful Hadid sisters or handsome Hemsworths. The Kodo design language is - allegedly - a further evolution over other Mazdas, but I think it looks grand either way.

The Kodo design language is - allegedly - a further evolution over other Mazdas, but I think it looks grand either way. The Kodo design language is - allegedly - a further evolution over other Mazdas, but I think it looks grand either way.

There is a bit more 3 in it than CX-5, so it does look a bit more like a high hatchback (think Subaru XV, but not hideous), with black plastic bits to make it look rugged. The Touring looks good on the 18-inch wheels, too.

Inside is mostly 3 as well, which means a good clear dash, a cabin lacking in pointless clutter and a lot of very nice materials, textures and surfaces. And for some reason I cannot explain, a slab of chocolate brown leather smeared across the upper surface of the dash.

Full marks for trying something - I'm a broken record about dark Mazda interiors - but I am not sure about this. The Pure has blue instead, so this is less naff.

Apart from that, it's a really nice interior. If you do want something a bit lighter, you can spec white leather in the upper reaches of the range.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

A common theme with Mazdas - with the exception of the 6 and CX-9 - is that interior space tends to be toward the bottom of the scale. The boot starts at a fairly small (for the class) 317 litres. When you take into account the storage under the boot floor, the figure rises to 422 or 430 litres, depending on spec. Mazda doesn't supply a figure for seats-down, but I'd guess it's around the 1000-litre mark.

  • The boot starts at a fairly small (for the class) 317 litres. The boot starts at a fairly small (for the class) 317 litres.
  • Mazda doesn't supply a figure for seats-down, but I'd guess it's around the 1000-litre mark. Mazda doesn't supply a figure for seats-down, but I'd guess it's around the 1000-litre mark.
  • Front and rear-seat passengers each score a pair of cupholders and a bottle holder in each door, for four each. Front and rear-seat passengers each score a pair of cupholders and a bottle holder in each door, for four each.
  •  It's not really a three-across-on-holidays bench, but it will do the job for most city trips. It's not really a three-across-on-holidays bench, but it will do the job for most city trips.

Front and rear-seat passengers each score a pair of cupholders and a bottle holder in each door, for four each. The centre console bin is a small but useful space and the glove box is tiny, in the interests of offering lots of clear knee space.

Rear-seat passengers get roughly the same deal as those in the 3, with one key difference. The reasonably large transmission tunnel - whether the car is FWD like this one, or AWD - robs the middle occupant of foot space. It's not really a three-across-on-holidays bench, but it will do the job for most city trips. Head room isn't super generous, either, but I'm okay at almost 180cm.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The G20 CX-30 comes with Mazda's tried-and-true 2.0-litre SkyActiv petrol engine, delivering 114kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm at 4000rpm, which is not much more than in a CX-3, and yet it's   hauling a bit more weight. Having said that, 1360kg is neither a mere slip of a thing, nor chubby.

The G20 CX-30 comes with Mazda's tried-and-true 2.0-litre SkyActiv petrol engine. The G20 CX-30 comes with Mazda's tried-and-true 2.0-litre SkyActiv petrol engine.

The G20s are all front-wheel drive, with a six-speed automatic transmission. The 0-100km/h time is a very leisurely and noisy 10.3 seconds.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Mazda supplied an official fuel figure of 6.5L/100km. As ever, that's not quite the reality, but at 8.7L/100km for a mostly city-bound week, the real-world result wasn't bad. And when you remember the CX-30 runs on 91 RON unleaded, it won't cost a fortune.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

Standard across the range are seven airbags, including driver’s knee airbag, ABS, stability and traction controls, driver-attention detection, forward-obstruction warning, auto high beam, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, reverse cross-traffic alert, reversing camera, forward AEB, rear AEB, rear-crossing AEB, tyre-pressure monitoring and traffic-sign recognition.

Child seats are covered with either three top-tether anchors or two ISOFIX points.

The CX-30 scored five ANCAP stars in January 2020. The CX-30 scored five ANCAP stars in January 2020.

The CX-30 scored five ANCAP stars in January 2020, scoring 99 percent in adult-occupant protection.

You can add the Vision Technology Pack, which is $1300 on the Touring and gets you front cross-traffic alert, around-view cameras, driver monitoring and cruising and traffic support (basically the same as Audi's stop-and-go in traffic).

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Mazda's standard five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty applies, along with a fixed-price-servicing regime. Annoyingly, the service intervals are a stingy 12 months or 10,000km and the first five services are $327 each. If you do 15,000km per year, that means you won't quiet eke out five years from the program, and the first two years will cost you almost $1000 in servicing. And that doesn't include a few bits and pieces, like brake fluid and cabin filters.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Mazda has come a long way in a variety of areas in the last three or four years. In 2015, reviews were littered with complaints about noise from the engine and front suspension, along with various other niggles about the ride or handling. Even then, those cars were a world away from mid-2000s cars, which looked great but had cheap-feeling interiors, thirsty engines and indifferent handling.

And that's the Mazda story - constant, iterative improvement. The CX-30 might be new, but it's full of the sorts of things Mazda has learnt over the past decade.

The very clever G-Vectoring system momentarily reduces torque as you turn the wheel for a corner, shifting the weight to the front wheels and squishing the tyres into the road. It makes the front end feel like it's glued down that little bit more and there's even a bit of feel through the steering wheel. It does chatter a bit over bumps and you will get a bit of kickback over bigger ones, but it's nothing you can't handle if you're paying attention.

The 2.5-litre G25 models are hardly rocketships, but a bit more go would be welcome in the CX-30. The 2.5-litre G25 models are hardly rocketships, but a bit more go would be welcome in the CX-30.

The Touring (and Evolve) are fitted with better Dunlop tyres than the Pure's squidgy Bridgestones and provide a worthwhile boost to grip, with just a small penalty to the ride quality.

And goodness, it is a bit on the slow side. The 2.5-litre G25 models are hardly rocketships, but a bit more go would be welcome in the CX-30 (the 2.5 turbo in the CX-5 with 420Nm would be most welcome). At this level, a Kia Seltos or Hyundai Kona has both all-wheel drive and a turbo 1.6-litre engine with rather more urge.

And because it is lacking in power and torque, you do need to work the CX-30 harder, and in G20 form - like the 3 and 2.0-litre powered CX-5's - it's noisy and tiring. If you keep your ambition in check, though, it's a lovely thing to drive.

And that's the thing about ambition - sometimes someone else shows too much of it and you have to hit the brakes hard. In normal driving the soft pedal of this car isn't annoying, but when things are a bit hairy, the brake pedal feel is a little lacking. The brakes work - obviously - but a little more feel would bring a lot of confidence.

Verdict

If you're taking into account price and features, I reckon the G20 Touring is the pick of the CX-30 range. I was prepared to be very impressed with the CX-30, and I was. It looks and feels great, is well-equipped in all but the engine department (few buyers will care) and adds yet more choice to the SUV market. 

What I particularly like about it is that it's not really an SUV, but a high-riding hatchback. It's beautifully built and feels like it will last forever, which is good, because pretty cars should.

Pricing guides

$36,740
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$29,990
Highest Price
$43,490

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
G20 ASTINA (FWD) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $38,990 2020 Mazda CX-30 2020 G20 ASTINA (FWD) Pricing and Specs
G20 EVOLVE (FWD) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $31,490 2020 Mazda CX-30 2020 G20 EVOLVE (FWD) Pricing and Specs
G20 EVOLVE VISION (FWD) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $32,990 2020 Mazda CX-30 2020 G20 EVOLVE VISION (FWD) Pricing and Specs
G20 PURE (FWD) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $29,990 2020 Mazda CX-30 2020 G20 PURE (FWD) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Price and features7
Design8
Practicality7
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety9
Ownership7
Driving8
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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