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Mazda CX-30 2023 review: G20E Evolve

The Mazda CX-30 is one of seven SUVs available in the Mazda range, so what makes it stand out?

The Mazda CX-30 is one of seven SUVs available in the Mazda range and at first glance, they all look like Mazda has either cropped or stretched a few but essentially ‘copied and pasted.'

The CX-30 is based on the Mazda3 and slides into place between that and the CX-5 in terms of size. All the SUVs sport the pronounced nose, sharp detailing in the grille and wide rears, so what makes the G20E Evolve stand apart?

Well, firstly, it’s a hybrid and secondly, the interior is rather nice for the price tag. But is that enough to make it attractive for those looking for a bit of extra space but who don’t want to leave their hatchback days behind them? Because this is essentially a plumped and fluffed version of the Mazda3. 

I’ve been driving this for a week with my family of three to see if there’s more to this little car than just the attractive price tag.

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What does it look like?

At first glance, it looks like a jacked version of the Mazda 3 but the rear is a lot larger making it feel wider and taller from the rear wheels to the boot.

The Evolve still has the classic Mazda sharp nose and black grille, which makes it look more aggressive than it is. However, it also sports black plastics on the panelling that look a little heavy-handed, especially where the doors meet as there are wide gaps between the panels. It makes them look like they haven’t been finished as nicely as they could have been, which is at odds with the sleek interior.

The Evolve still has the classic Mazda sharp nose and black grille. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Evolve still has the classic Mazda sharp nose and black grille. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The interior is the drawcard for looks. The Evolve sports contrasting blue leather accents and while not my favourite colour, it certainly makes the interior pop. The driver gets all of the attention, though, with most of the detailing happening with the lovely shaped instrument panel that feels intuitive to use and is great to look at.

The steering wheel is a particular highlight and feels superb under the hands. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The steering wheel is a particular highlight and feels superb under the hands. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The steering wheel is a particular highlight and feels superb under the hands. But it’s a shame the drivers aesthetic hasn’t been carried across to the passenger’s side, where you’re left with a rather bare looking dash and severe rectangular air-vents. Which, curiously, are positioned rather low and aim at your waist.

Overall, the CX-30 doesn’t break Mazda’s SUV mould too much and with such similar cousins, it would have been nice to see more differences.

How does it drive?

I often forgot this was a hybrid. It doesn’t sound like one or drive like the hybrids I’ve sampled. The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine lets you know that it doesn’t love being put under pressure but will perform when it needs to.

Fact is, it's a 'mild hybrid' using a small electric motor powered by a 24-volt battery pack, focused mainly on boosting low-speed response and helping efficiency. It's not really in the same league as full hybrids with bigger batteries and motors.

  • The CX-30 is a 'mild hybrid' using a small electric motor powered by a 24-volt battery pack. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The CX-30 is a 'mild hybrid' using a small electric motor powered by a 24-volt battery pack. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • 2023 Mazda CX-30 I G20E Evolve I Driving 2023 Mazda CX-30 I G20E Evolve I Driving
  • 2023 Mazda CX-30 I G20E Evolve I Driving 2023 Mazda CX-30 I G20E Evolve I Driving

It’s not super quick off the mark but there is enough power to overtake when you need it to and cruising on the open road seems to be its sweet spot.

The cabin is quiet, which was nice but the hard manual flops around a lot in the glove box during stop/start traffic. So much so, that I tossed it underneath my handbag. The side mirrors feel too high in my drivers position and I felt like I was looking around them a lot this week but the head-up display has been a good feature. Especially since it can be customised and pulls through the traffic sign recognition, which is always handy in variable speed zones through the city.

How spacious is it?

Front passengers will enjoy the most space because it’s a bit snug in the back seat. There is an okay amount of headroom but nearly no legroom behind my driver’s position and I’m 168cm (5’6’’).

Front passengers will enjoy the most space. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Front passengers will enjoy the most space. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

There is the standard drink bottle holder in each door plus two cupholders in each row. The outboard seats are the most comfortable but an adult could handle the middle seat in a pinch.

The window ledges in each row are quite high, so despite the higher ride position it can feel a little boxed-in for passengers and my five-year old didn’t like that he couldn’t see much out of the window.

The higher ride position it can feel a little boxed-in for passengers and my five-year old didn’t like that he couldn’t see much out of the window. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The higher ride position it can feel a little boxed-in for passengers and my five-year old didn’t like that he couldn’t see much out of the window. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The glove box and storage bins in doors are average for a car of this size but the middle console is a good space to use. The USB-A ports are housed there, with a shelf for your phone, so there’s no trailing cable in the cabin (a pet peeve of mine).

  • Boot capacity is 317L (VDA). (Image: Glen Sullivan) Boot capacity is 317L (VDA). (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • 2023 Mazda CX-30 I G20E Evolve I Boot 2023 Mazda CX-30 I G20E Evolve I Boot

The boot is rather small, even for a compact SUV. It claims only 317L (VDA) when all seats are in use and I believe it. It has a narrow aperture which widens towards the rear and it feels a little like a hatchback in that regard. The floor is shallow but that does mean it’s easy to slide in bulkier items like a pram. You just won’t fit much else in.

There is the standard drink bottle holder in each door plus two cupholders in each row. (Image: Glen Sullivan) There is the standard drink bottle holder in each door plus two cupholders in each row. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

How easy is it to use every day?

The Evolve is a simple car to use and not much thought goes into operating it – which is good. Some manufacturers make the user experience far too complicated but ease of use is something the Evolve does well. Anyone can jump in and go.

The 8.8-inch multimedia system isn’t laggy and the graphics are clear but the rotary wheel can be a little annoying to use. It’s also nestled rather deeply in the dash and from my position the bottom of the screen is cut off. That might just be my experience, though.

The 8.8-inch multimedia system isn’t laggy and the graphics are clear. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The 8.8-inch multimedia system isn’t laggy and the graphics are clear. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The car sits at a good height and you slide into your seat without trouble. My five-year old was able to get in and out easily, too. The cloth seats are comfortable and the electric adjustments (including lumbar support) for the driver is a nice touch. I would have liked hard kick plates for little feet because I can see the cloth getting dirty but my son might be more boisterous than others!

The CX-30 is very easy to park. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The CX-30 is very easy to park. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The CX-30 is very easy to park and its an operation made simple by the 360-degree view, reversing camera plus the front and rear parking sensors. I haven’t found a car park that’s trumped me yet! This is definitely the sort of car that excels in tight spaces, so city dwellers will benefit.

How safe is it?

The CX-30 has a lot of the important safety and tech features that I would want to see, including adaptive cruise control, driver attention alert, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning plus front and rear cross-traffic alerts which are great in a car park or busy school zone. It also has autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection which is operational between 10-80km/h.

The CX-30 doesn’t break any new ground with its seven airbags but it does have a driver’s knee airbag and curtain airbags covering the second row. This has a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating from testing conducted in 2019, so it’s still relatively fresh.

There are two ISOFIX mounts plus three top tether child seat mounts. (Image: Glen Sullivan) There are two ISOFIX mounts plus three top tether child seat mounts. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

There are two ISOFIX mounts plus three top tether child seat mounts but I’d be surprised if you could get three child seats side by side.

It wasn’t too much trouble fitting my harnessed booster with the fiddliest part being fitting my top tether to the rear. Unfortunately, front passenger space is limited when a 0-4 rearward facing child seat is installed. I couldn’t have it behind my driver’s position, so this does limit on flexibility for parents with infants.

What’s the tech like?

The tech is pretty good for a model that isn’t top-spec, and should satisfy most. The 8.8-inch multimedia system is easy to use and has built-in sat nav. The wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is simple to connect to and the eight-speaker sound system is crisp.

The head-up display is great and my eyes were more on the road than the instrument panel. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The head-up display is great and my eyes were more on the road than the instrument panel. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The head-up display is great and my eyes were more on the road than the instrument panel, which is how I like it. This model enjoys keyless entry and push-button start plus paddle gear shifters on the steering wheel.

The driver's seat can be electrically adjusted 10 ways and also has a two-position memory function, so you can make sure your comfortable every time you get in, no matter who drives it before you.

This model makes do with halogen daytime running lights but does have LED headlights. (Image: Glen Sullivan) This model makes do with halogen daytime running lights but does have LED headlights. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Surprisingly, this model makes do with halogen daytime running lights but does have LED headlights. The air conditioning is efficient and the front has dual climate control. The highlight is the camera system, as this model has a 360-degree view, reversing camera, plus front and rear parking sensors, making it easy to park. 

How much does it cost to own?

The G20E Evolve is $35,840, before on-road costs, and is competitively priced for the market with contenders like the Kia Niro and Ford Escape.

The CX-30 comes with Mazda’s five-year/unlimited km warranty, which is standard for the class but it also comes with a great five-year roadside assistance service.

There is five years capped priced servicing and it averages $347 per service, which is good for the class. However, servicing intervals are a little painful at 10,000km or every 12 months, whichever comes first.

The CX-30 comes with Mazda’s five-year/unlimited km warranty, which is standard for the class but it also comes with a great five-year roadside assistance service. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The CX-30 comes with Mazda’s five-year/unlimited km warranty, which is standard for the class but it also comes with a great five-year roadside assistance service. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The official combined fuel cycle is 6.3L/100km, which is high compared to the competition (the Ford Escape plug-in hybrid claims only 1.5L/100km!).

On mostly longer open road driving and some town trips, I managed to achieve 7.5L/100km. So, despite being a hybrid, the fuel economy wasn’t as great as I was expecting. That's the mild hybrid factor.


The Wrap

The CX-30 has been easy to cruise around in and while it doesn’t have the space I’d want if this was going to be the sole family car, it might be perfect for a small family living in the city. If I was going to dip my toe into hybrid waters, this wouldn’t be top of my list but it looks nice and performs when you need it to. It gets a 7.0/10. My son wasn’t a massive fan of this one citing his lack of view and the tight back seat as the biggest issues. He gave it a 6.0/10. 

Likes

Good safety & tech features
Easy to park
Drivers interior is nicely detailed

Dislikes

High fuel econ for a hybrid
Not quick off the mark
Small boot space

Scores

Emily:

3.5

The Kids:

3

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