Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

Mazda CX-30 2021 review: G25 Astina long-term


Daily driver score

4/5

Urban score

4/5

On paper, the Mazda CX-30 should be the perfect SUV for city life. Larger than the bite-sized CX-3, yet not so hulking as the CX-5, and a stylish and svelte looking vehicle to boot. But paper often lives a long way from reality, so our resident urbanite Chesto is putting the CX-30 to the long-term test to see how it really stacks up. 

Report 1 - September 2020

I'm just going to put this out there - I'm not a massive fan of the Mazda CX-3. It looks nice, sure, with its stylish exterior design and cute-as-a-button cabin. But it's truly as practical as a perforated umbrella, with a tight backseat and small boot that pretty much rules it out as a vehicle for a growing family, or even as vehicle to take longer road trips in.

That SUV is too small, then. 

The CX-5? Now that I do like. But it's really too big to suit my needs, what with our family consisting of my wife and I, plus our tiny corgi, and while we take a lot of cross-state road-trips, we're not circling the country, so the harder to park/navigate through city streets versus all that extra space equation just doesn't work out for us.

That SUV is too big, then. 

The CX-30, though? It's not too big, and not too small. In fact, it could be just right for what we need.  And yes, I appreciate I'm sounding a little Goldilocks here. But that's entirely the point of the CX-30, isn't it? A car that neatly fills the gap between the CX-3 and CX-5, which also just happens to be the life-stage my wife and I are currently occupying.

The CX-30 sits in-between the CX-3 and CX-5 in Mazda's SUV lineup. The CX-30 sits in-between the CX-3 and CX-5 in Mazda's SUV lineup.

But size is only part of the SUV story, of course. And so the question now is can the CX-30 deliver in the other important areas? We'll be answering that and more in the coming reports.

But first, what are you looking at here? We've got the fanciest of the CX-30s, the G25 Astina, which will set you back a not-to-be-sneezed-at $41,490 for the FWD we have, or $43,490 for the AWD version. It sits near the tippy-top of the CX-30 family, above the G20 Pure, Evolve, Touring and Astina, and then G25 Touring, too, but will soon be pipped by the X20 Astina, which is fitted with Mazda's clever compression-ignition SkyActiv-X engine, and which is yours for $46,490.

The G25 bit, by the way, refers to the engine. While the G20 cars get a 2.0-litre engine good for 114kW and 200Nm, the G25 cars - including ours - get a bigger 2.5-litre petrol unit delivering a hefty 139kW and 252Nm, partnered with a six-speed automatic transmission, which in our car drives the front tyres. It will sip a claimed 6.6L/100km on the combined cycle

So what do you get for that investment. Leather seats arrive as standard - and ours are trimmed in a fancy "Pure White" - as well as chrome exhaust exits, a rear spoiler, a powered sunroof, an automatic tailgate, adaptive LED headlamps and LED DRLs, keyless entry and push-button start

The G25 Astina scores adaptive LED headlamps and LED DRLs. The G25 Astina scores adaptive LED headlamps and LED DRLs.

Inside, you gets that plush while trim, of course, but you'll also find dual-zone climate control with rear vents, heated front seats and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, and cup holders and bottle storage everywhere. 

On the tech front, you'll find a 8.8-inch colour central screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which pairs with a very good Bose 12-speaker stereo, and gets DAB+ and sat nav was standard, too. There's two USB inputs, and a second 7.0-inch screen in the driver's binnacle.

Inside is an 8.8-inch colour central screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Inside is an 8.8-inch colour central screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Finally, lets's talk safety - because this top-shelf Astina gets a lot. Deep breath now: you get seven airbags, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, a 360-degree parking camera, adaptive cruise, a driver attention alert system, Forward Obstruction Warning, Front and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist System and two ISOFIX and three top-tether points.

Now, let's go to practicality for a moment. The CX-30 is an SUV in the loosest sense of the term, looking and behaving more like a hatch than a traditional 4WD. The boot space is listed at 317 litres VDA - which isn't massive - and while the backseat is plenty plush, it's not massively practical, so full-size adults back there for longer distances might be a stretch.

The backseat is plush, but not massively practical. The backseat is plush, but not massively practical.

Now it's usually at this point that I'd tell you what the CX-30 is like to actually drive, but that's going to a be a two-parter this time around, I'm afraid. Because what I like about the drive experience is grand, but what I don't like about it? Well, there's a real chance that's about to be fixed. 

See, as an everyday driver this Astina largely excels. There's connectedness between car and driver that's refreshing in this class, with the steering a little more meaty than some other competitors, while remaining direct and confidence inspiring. 

The ride, too, is a tick in my book, with the CX-30 feeling in touch with the road surface below, but without feeling jarring or uncomfortable. But all of these we will come back to in the next dispatch. And by then, our major gripe with the CX-30 might well be fixed, too.

The front-wheel drive G25 Astina is priced at $41,490 (before on-road costs). The front-wheel drive G25 Astina is priced at $41,490 (before on-road costs).

See, we collected the vehicle with around 10,000kms on it, meaning it's well and truly run in, and shortly afterwards the "service soon" light flashed up on then dashboard. It's appearance was like a Christmas present, because it's not often we are able to put the dealership experience to the test - something we'll be reporting back on shortly. 

I have also noticed, though, a kind of confusion in the way the gearbox operates, like it's never entirely certain on when and where to shift, which can result in jerky, unexpected changes. Not all the time, mind, but often enough to be annoying.

Having never spend time in a CX-30 before, it's hard to know whether this is a driving quirk and owner has to get used to, or a minor niggle that will be hunted down and repaired when it's being serviced. Either way, I'll be reporting it to the dealership technicians, and then reporting the outcome back to you, dear reader. 

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that, for a detailed impression of how the CX-30 drives, you'll need to wait. But not too long, I promise.

Acquired: September 2020

Distance travelled this month: 367km

Odometer: 11,853km

Average fuel consumption for September: 10.4L/100 (measured at the pump)

Report 2 - October 2020

For most people - most normal people, at least - a warning light popping up on the dashboard is a cause of concern, not of celebration.

But for me, watching the little spanner symbol that means its time for a service illuminate on the dash of the Mazda CX-30 was a cause for celebration.

See, we spend a lot of time in cars. And I mean, a lot. But by the nature of what we do, those cars tend to be brand new, and are - more often than not - handed back to the manufacturer well before their first annual service is due. 

It was time to take our Mazda CX-30 to the doctor. It was time to take our Mazda CX-30 to the doctor.

As a result, the way each manufacturer handles the servicing experience for its customers can be a little mysterious, and often something only experienced by the car's owners. By which point, you've already bought it, and so it's far too late for us to warn you off it if said experience turns out to be as enjoyable as stubbing your toe on a frosty winter's morning.

But not this time. The little light on the dash of my CX-30 G25 Astina told me it was time to visit the dealership, so I promptly booked into AMR Mazda in Sydney's Stanmore to get it looked at. 

And it wasn't just for its regular maintenance. If you read my last dispatch, you'll remember that I had complained about a certain clunkiness to the way the automatic gearbox operates.

It wasn't awful - more that it was occasionally struck by a certain uncertainness about when and how to shift, resulting in jerky gear changes at times. 

The little light on the dash of the CX-30 meant it was time to visit the dealership. The little light on the dash of the CX-30 meant it was time to visit the dealership.

So, the service team would need to look at that, as well as perform the regular duties required. And that, I thought, would take ages.

Not so much. In fact, AMR told me over the phone that they'd launched an express service offering, with the bold promise that - should I be willing to turn up around 7am - that I'd be done in time to drive to the office.  

Sure enough, I arrived at the dealership - along with plenty of others - to be greeted by a team of air-traffic controllers directing us into particular areas. You’re then handed a voucher for a coffee and something light to eat, and sent out and up the road to chill out at a cafe. 

No sooner had I sat down than my phone beeped with a video sent by the dealership, of a technician wandering around my CX-30, showing me the brake pad wear, the tyre tread, a closer look at the suspension, and a ton of other stuff, too. 

AMR have launched an express service offering. AMR have launched an express service offering.

I’d also reported some clunkiness in the gear shifts, and so a test drive was performed and the gearbox software recalibrated. Two outstanding recall actions - one of which involved the passenger airbag, and so was quite important - were performed, too. And I was in the car and on the road close enough to an hour later. Impressive stuff. 

For the record, Mazda recommends servicing every 10,000kms, and for that first service, the cost is around $320. You're then staring down the barrel of $366, $320, $366 and $320. 

Those prices include most of the maintenance stuff, but Mazda says you'll have to dig deeper in your pocket for things like the cabin air filter ($100), brake fluid ($71), the engine air filter ($84), the spark plug ($314), the engine fuel filter ($455) and the engine coolant ($244) when those things fall due. 

Mazda recommends servicing every 10,000kms. Mazda recommends servicing every 10,000kms.

So did it fix my gearbox complaint? Kind of. The issue has certainly eased, which leads me to believe its operating as it now should be, and it's still not the smoothest gearbox I've lived with. Around 90 per cent of the time its near perfect, but there are still some stiff shifts, especially when its still warming up. 

Acquired: September 2020

Distance travelled this month: 162km

Odometer: 12,015km

Average fuel consumption for October: 10.4L/100 (measured at the pump)

Report 3 - November 2020

I still defy anyone to look upon this Mazda CX-30 and be anything but impressed by its appearance. Yes, there are bigger - and boxier - SUVs in this segment that can carry more stuff, and deliver more space for passengers. But do any of them look quite this good?

No. They. Don’t.

Is the CX-30 a true Goldilocks SUV? Is the CX-30 a true Goldilocks SUV?

It’s like the CX-30 has perfected the Mazda3 formula, with the latter looking a little too smooth and flash for my tastes. It’s proven a little controversial, that car, with the CarsGuide office still split between those who love the new look, and those who don’t.

This one, though? There are none of those arguments. With its black-clad wheel arches, swept-back roofline and sharpened nose, it looks bloody fantastic.

It’s a similar story inside, too. Yes, this G25 Astina is among the most expensive ways to climb into a CX-30, but that really only impacts the materials - the white leather seats, the soft-touch materials etc - but the basic design of the cabin, with its long, unbroken lines and simple understated elegance, features right across the range.

This G25 Astina is among the most expensive ways to climb into a CX-30. This G25 Astina is among the most expensive ways to climb into a CX-30.

But there is a caveat you need to be aware of, and that is that there’s a penalty to pay for all that style. And it’s one that might even land the CX-30 on the no-go list if yours is a bigger family with lots of stuff

I’ve been lucky enough to spend quite a lot of time in some really well-packaged small SUVs - most recently the Kia Seltos - and, well, this isn’t really one of them. 

The CX-30 measures 4395mm in length, 1795mm in width and 1540mm in height, and it rides on a 2655mm wheelbase. And space up front is absolutely fine, not a problem at all, but it’s rear passenger room and luggage space that can act as a bit of a downer here.

Rear passenger room and luggage space can act as a bit of a downer. Rear passenger room and luggage space can act as a bit of a downer.

The boot, for example, is serves up 317 litres of VDA space. Compare that with the Seltos, which served up to 433 litres of VDA space, and you get an idea of the style for space compromises that have been made here.

The backseat space is a littler tighter, too. Don’t get me wrong, I could fit my 175cm frame behind my own driving position with a little knee room and head room left over, but it just feels tighter and more enclosed than some of its rivals, and it’s a little harder to bend into to fit things like child seats, too.

With black-clad wheel arches, swept-back roofline and sharpened nose, it looks bloody fantastic. With black-clad wheel arches, swept-back roofline and sharpened nose, it looks bloody fantastic.

But not all families are the same, of course, and my little urban brood (my wife, myself and my little corgi Poppy) really didn’t need or want any more room over our months with the car, and would really have no need to shop for anything bigger. Your family, however, might be different. 

For me, though, the space sacrifices are made up for by its look, but also by the way it feels on the road. I’m still not in love with the gearbox, which remains clunky at times, but its general driveability is on point.

The steering doesn’t give that distant sensation some SUVs do. The steering doesn’t give that distant sensation some SUVs do.

It feels dynamically sorted. I like the ride, I like the steering and I like the way you feel connected to the car. It doesn’t give that distant sensation some SUVs do - it’s firmer than that - but even after several months behind the wheel the ride is yet to grate on me at all. In fact, I prefer it, as you can actually feel what’s happening beneath the tyres. 

The engine is a peach, too. Clearly tuned for effortless momentum over sportiness, the 139kW and 252Nm on offer from the 2.5-litre petrol is plenty to shift the CX-30 around. 

The CX-30 was pretty enjoyable. The CX-30 was pretty enjoyable.

But I have discovered some quirks that you’ll only really discover after some time behind the wheel. For one, the air-conditioning is rubbish on a hot day. Really, surprisingly so. It just doesn’t get anywhere cool enough to survive a Sydney summer, let alone one in Perth or Darwin. Perhaps it’s a quirk of our car, though, and not something that impacts the entire fleet.

The vision isn’t always great, either. What with the swooping body lines and the way the A pillars manage to get right in your line of sight when pulling out into an intersection.

These are quibbles, not dealbreakers, though. And overall, my time with the CX-30 was pretty enjoyable. Style and substance then, even if space is sometimes lacking.

Acquired: September 2020

Distance travelled this month: 428km

Odometer: 12,443km

Average fuel consumption for November: 10.0L/100 (measured at the pump)

It's hard to not like the CX-30, with Mazda's stylish small SUV ticking plenty of boxes for its looks, the way that it drives, and - in this Astina trim level - its plethora of posh equipment.

But you need to be realistic, too. If you need more space, either now or in the not-too-distant future, a CX-5 might be more your bag. But if yours is a smaller, urban family, then there are few more stylish vehicles in this segment.

$41,490

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4/5

Urban score

4/5