2021 Mazda CX-30 GT AWD – Calm Thrills

2021 Mazda CX-30 GT AWD

2021 Mazda CX-30 GT AWD is the latest addition to Mazda’s crossover lineup. As of 2021, 4 out of 7 models are technically SUVs/Crossovers and it shows how important the Crossover lineup is for Mazda. In fact, it is not only crucial for Mazda, but almost all manufacturers changed their total lineup and they offer multiple types of SUVs for different types of needs and families.

CX-30 is designed more towards smaller families, as this is the second smallest SUV in their model lineup. Though their SUV naming may be a little bit confusing, they somehow decided to choose the CX-30 name instead of CX-4, as that name is used for another Mazda SUV for the Chinese market. Unlike the smaller sibling, the CX-3, it uses the Mazda 3 platform but with more ground clearance and a more rugged look.

Exterior and Interior

CX-30 looks like a combination of Mazda 3 and CX-5 from the front

Like many other Mazdas, CX-30 is one of the best-looking entries in this segment. It comes with a huge traditional Mazda front grille with chrome lines and Mazda headlights that look very similar to the other models. From the front, it has a very similar look to the Mazda 3, but it sits higher and it has unpainted plastic parts on the front bumper to make it look more “off-road” ready.

Compared to Mazda 3, CX-30 has significantly more ride height

From the side, it has huge plastic covers for a more SUV look, and for sure it offers more protection against small scratches. GT trim also comes with blacked-out 18″ wheels that make the car look more sporty, and it is a great match with unpainted surfaces. Overall, I really like the Mazda red, though it is considered a “boring” SUV, it can still turn the heads especially when the car is clean.

The rear design is very attractive with round-shaped brake lights and dual exhaust

The rear design of the 2021 Mazda CX-30 GT AWD is uniquely Mazda but still looks different than other Mazda SUV models. The red colour makes the taillight design hide a little bit, so any other colour would show the taillight design a bit better. Like the rest of the vehicle, the rear bumper has a huge plastic part at the bottom and the trunk has relatively high loading surface. It comes with 100% real dual exhaust tips and we really appreciate the fact that Mazda never uses fake exhaust tips, even in their SUVs.

CX-30 comes with three colour combination interior and top-notch materials

The Interior of the CX-30 is pretty much the same as Mazda 3, and it looks very elegant. GT trim comes in 3 tone (black, brown and white seats) and I love how it looks. White seats may get dirty easier in the long term. Of course, you have a significantly higher seating position, probably why you would buy it compared to a regular Mazda 3. Traditionally it comes with top-notch interior quality with soft-touch materials and lots of leather all around the cabin.

CX-30 has the latest infotainment system that has a great screen resolution

If you are coming from older Mazdas, this would feel right at home. Everything is where it should be. All critical features have physical buttons, and it comes with Mazda’s traditional button layout. The stereo buttons are placed in the center console, AC buttons are in the middle of the dashboard. Like the Mazda 3, the screen is placed far from the driver, and the resolution is great. It is unfortunate that there is no touch screen option and you rely on an infotainment rotary knob and it can sometimes be a pain especially if you use navigation.

Rear seats are very comfortable, though not the class-leading in terms of overall legroom

Rear seats are as comfortable as the front seats, and you get more amount of rear legroom compared to CX-3 that we recently reviewed. It is still not class-leading in terms of overall rear legroom, but definitely good enough for small families. Compared to Mazda 3, the CX-30 is definitely less claustrophobic as side windows are taller and as a result, it has much better visibility.

CX-30 comes with 20.2 cubic feet (572 L) of cargo space

2021 Mazda CX-30 comes with a decent amount of cargo space. It has 20.2 (572 L) cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. If you fold down the rear seats, it goes up to 45.2 (1279 L) cubic feet of total cargo space, which is pretty generous for a subcompact SUV. The cargo floor is placed low and GT trim comes with a power liftgate, which is not even an option with the CX-3 and Mazda 3.

Drivetrain & Driving Impressions

2021 Mazda CX-30 GT AWD comes with a 2.5L turbocharged engine that produces 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque

Like the latest Mazda models, CX-30 gets the most advanced 4 cylinder engine in Mazda’s engine lineup. It’s a 2.5L turbocharged engine that produces 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque with premium gas. If you put regular gas, the electronic control unit reduces power to 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. It adjusts the fuel and ignition timing based on octane and fuel quality. Unlike some brands, it does not force you to buy premium, you only get slightly less power.


The skyActiv-G engine is one of the most reliable direct-injection engines on the market

Skyactiv-G turbocharged engine is a great option for daily driving, as it offers tons of torque almost from idle all the way up to 5000 RPM. After 5000 RPM the torque curve goes down quite a lot, but you don’t really need higher RPMs for daily driving. The engine feels very smooth and there is a little bit of turbo lag, but once the turbo spools it becomes a raised hot-hatch. Our fuel economy test results were acceptable for a 250 hp turbo engine, which was around 11 L / 100 km. There is only one transmission option, which is a 6-speed torque converted automatic.

Like many other Mazda models, it comes with 6-speed torque converted automatic transmission

Of course, everything about the driving experience is calm, even though it is much faster than other entries. Aside from engine characteristics, 6 gear automatic transmission is one of the reasons why it prioritizes smoothness over sportiness. Mazda has been using this transmission for a long time, fine-tuned it and it is extremely smooth for a torque converted automatically. Although upshifts and downshifts are relatively fast, tall gear ratios make it feel it is tuned for driving comfort even in Sport mode. Of course, I appreciate the fact that Mazda does not use CVT like most entries.

i-Activ AWD system is an on-demand all-wheel drive system that sends power according to driving conditions

2021 Mazda CX-30 comes with an optional i-Activ All-Wheel Drive system that sends power to all wheels depending on the situation. It sends most of the power to the front, as it has a horizontally placed engine, but it sends power to the rear at lower speeds, turns, and depending on driving circumstances it can send more power to the rear wheels.

2021 Mazda CX-30 has MacPherson front struts and rear torsion beam suspension setup

Suspension tuning is well balanced, but compared to Mazda 3 Hatchback, it is significantly softer. You immediately feel that it has more suspension travel and as a result, it offers smoother ride over road imperfections. That also means, you are less connected to the road and you feel less if you drive it fast, but this suspension setup is a great match for subcompact SUVs and their potential users. CX-30 has MacPherson front struts and rear torsion beam suspension setup that is expected for this price range, and you would not feel that it is a torsion beam as Mazda refined it pretty well.

Pricing and the Verdict

2021 Mazda CX-30 is the modern-day “hot-hatch” that combines performance and practicality together

Many people see subcompact SUVs as a boring, budget-raised hatchback, but the 2021 Mazda CX-30 GT AWD is much more than that. It’s a great balance of a compact design, interior quality, practicality and good driving dynamics. Compared to other entries, Mazda CX-30 shines in terms of powertrain choices, as it offers the most powerful engine with an automatic transmission that comes with actual gears. As a result, you have to pay the premium to have the extra power but well worth investment if you are an enthusiast.

Of course, there is room for improvement in few areas. First of all, Mazda needs to reconsider its infotainment implementation. There is no problem in terms of quality, but without a touchscreen, the usability part will never be as convenient. Second, they need to make the turbo engine available in the mid-trim (GS), so you don’t have to choose the top trim just to have additional power and torque. Making the turbocharger engine mainstream and more price competitive would destroy the competition as all other entries are significantly slower.

CX-30 is our favourite subcompact SUV as it is the only driver-focused entry with no compromises

At the end of the day, CX-30 is my favourite subcompact SUV and it offers a nice sweet spot in between the tiny CX-3 and CX-5. Price-wise, it’s also located in the middle, 2021 Mazda CX-30 is priced at $24,700 with the base trim that has a 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G engine. Mid trim starts at around $31,000 that comes with 2.5L Skyactiv-G naturally aspirated engine and if you want AWD it’s $1500 extra. Our tester, the 2.5 Turbo GT trim is priced at $38,400 and AWD is standard, but turbocharged 2.5L engine is a $2400 option that is a must for enthusiasts.

For more details – please visit www.mazda.ca