Mazda is known as one of those car manufacturers that like to do things a bit differently. From their use of rotary engines for their flagship sports cars and emphasis on perfect weight distribution to their elegant, quirky design, and refusal to give in to the downsizing trend. The CX-30 is one of the latest entries in Mazda’s lineup. It is a sub-compact crossover which places it in the same niche as the CX-3. Wouldn’t two offerings of the same segment create an internal competition? Not exactly. Thehe CX-3 is aimed at the entry-level sub-compact crossover segment, where it would go up against the likes of Chevrolet Trax, Ford EcoSport, and Nissan Kicks. At the same time, the CX-30’s goal is to steal clients from the likes of Honda HR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Subaru Crosstrek – models that represent the higher echelon of the sub-compact crossover segment. So, does it have what it takes?

Exterior

2021 Mazda CX-30 Exterior
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The Kodo design continues to evolve as model-years progress.

The new generation of Mazda vehicles are even sleeker and more aggressive-looking than their predecessors. The headlights are narrower, and the grill’s chrome outline carries on through the entire lower section of the elegant LED headlights. The plastic covers on the side are black instead of body-colored and suggest some off-road capabilities, even though all-wheel-drive is optional. The “less is more” design philosophy is even more emphasized, giving the entire Mazda lineup clean, elegant, and fluid lines.

2021 Mazda CX-30 Exterior
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The same energy transitions to the rear of the car, where the inward-tapering rear cabin section, together with an almost “fastback”-styled swooping roofline, further emphasize the sexy rear fenders of the CX-30. At the same time, you will be happy to know that this aesthetic feat does not come at the cost of headroom. The 6.9 inches (175 mm) of road clearance also means you can confidently go on a light off-road adventure, especially with the all-wheel-drive system.

2021 Mazda CX-30 exterior dimensions
WheelBase (inches) 104.4
Length w/License Plate Holder (inches) 173.0
Width w/ wheel arch molding (inches) 70.7
Height (inches) 61.7

Interior

2021 Mazda CX-30 Interior
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The CX-30 is very intelligent and makes the best use of the interior space. Despite being only 173 inches (4.395 mm) in length and 70.7 inches (1,795 mm) in width, room is more than adequate. Soft touch materials of similarly high quality dominate the interior. The car feels well-built, and all the instruments are driver-centric.

The front seats are well-padded and provide decent bolstering as far as normal commuting goes. However, they are a bit shallow, so thigh support might leave something to be desired if you are over 6 feet tall.
2021 Mazda CX-30 Interior
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As for the back row, the Mazda CX-30 provides a cozy experience. Legroom is good and headroom will not be a problem even if you are 6 foot 2 inches tall. The central instrument cluster is easy to read, and the middle section can be customized to your preference. As far as trunk space goes, minimum cargo capacity is 15.2 cubic feet (430 liters). Fold the rear seats down and you get 49.7 cubic feet (1,406 liters). Last but not least, a 12-speaker Bose audio system ensures you get some of the best sound quality in the automotive business.

2021 Mazda CX-30 interior dimensions
Headroom, front/rear w/o Moonroof (inches) 38.1 / 38.3
Headroom, front/ rear Moonroof (inches) 37.8 / 38.3
Leg Room, rear (inches) 36.3
Shoulder Room, front/rear (inches) 55.6 / 53.6
Hip Room, front/rear (inches) 54.6 / 53.2

Drivetrain & Performance

2021 Mazda CX-30 Drivetrain
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The CX-30 comes with a choice of two normally-aspirated, four-cylinder engines – a 2.0 and a 2.5-liter. The latter offers 186 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 186 pound feet (252 Nm) at 4,000 rpm. You can choose between a manual and an automatic, both 6-speed. If you get the bigger engine, you can only have the automatic. The 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) sprint is achieved in about 7.8. Average fuel consumption is rated at 36.8 mpg (6.4 l / 100 km) with 150.2 g / km CO2 emissions.

2021 Mazda CX-30 specifications
Engine SKYACTIV-G 2.5L DOHC(CDA on Premium Pkg)
Horsepower 186 @ 6000 rpm
Torque 186 @ 4000 rpm
Displacement (cubic inches/cc) 151.8 / 2488
Bore x Stroke (inches/mm) 3.5 x 3.94 / 89.0 x 100.0
Compression Ratio 13.0 : 1
Transmission SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speedelectronically-controlled Sport AT
City/ Highway/ Combined 25/33/28 FWD (24/31/26 AWD)
0 to 62 mph 7.8 seconds

Price

2021 Mazda CX-30 Exterior
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The starting price for the CX-30 is $22,900. Mazda has made sure the new sub-compact crossover stays affordable and even a fully-loaded one does not exceed the $30,000 mark. This puts it in the sweet spot, slightly above the Honda HR-V with a starting price of $20,920 and the Nissan Rogue, which starts at $23,430 and can easily get up to $30,000.

Competition

Honda HR-V

2016 - 2017 Honda HR-V Exterior
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The HR-V could very well be the CX-30’s toughest opponent. Despite its looks, it actually offers slightly more cargo capacity – 15.8 cubic-feet (448 liters) vs 15.2 cubic-feet (430 liters). That said, folding the rear seats in the Honda only gives you 36.3 cubic-feet (1,043 liters). Interior space in the HR-V is also quite limited compared to the CX-30. In addition, the 1.5-liter Turbo V-Tec produces 182 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 162.3 pound feet (220 Nm) at 1,500 to 5,500 rpm. The CVT gearbox robs the HR-V of some performance, resulting in an 8.6-second sprint to 62 mph, despite having a slight weight advantage – 3,148 pounds (1,428 kg) vs 3,223 pounds (1,464 kg). Choosing the 6-speed manual will cut the 0 to 62 mph time by 0.8 seconds. That said, the Honda is slightly more economical, with 38.6 mpg (6.1 l / 100 km) combined. With 122 g/km it’s also a bit more eco-friendly.

Read our full review on the Honda HR-V

Nissan Rogue Sport

The 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport Is Semi-Autonomous But Still Only With An N/A Engine
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With 19.2 cubic-feet (564 liters), the Rogue has a distinctive advantage when it comes to cargo capacity. Fold down the rear seats and it becomes 69.1 cubic-feet (1,730 liters). However, it severely lacks in dynamic characteristics. You can get a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine only on the full-size Rogue. The Sport has to make do with a 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder, making 142 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 147 pound feet (199 Nm) at 4,400 rpm. Performance is further hindered by the Jatco CVT. Average fuel consumption is 27 mpg (8.7 liters) with 202 g/km CO2.

Read our full review on the Nissan Rogue Sport

Conclusion

2021 Mazda CX-30 Exterior
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Mazda has established a tradition of providing us with stylish, dependable cars that punch over their weight. The Mazda CX-30 is not just another quirky niche vehicle but also one of the most intelligent compact crossovers to come out in recent times. Often we see a classic case of function over form or vise-versa. We’ve witnessed aesthetic atrocities committed in the name of practicality or beautiful exterior lines at the cost of interior space. The Mazda CX-30 pulls off a rare feat by combining function and form. In addition, it offers the best performance in the segment combined with great usability in almost all conditions.

Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read More
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