CX-30 a Top Subcompact SUV

CHATHAM, Mass. – This is the third consecutive year I have sampled a Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus. The week behind the wheel of the pint-size wonder reinforced my opinion this is at the top of the list of subcompact sport-utility/crossover (SUV/CUV) offered on the American market.

Priced below $40,000 (including special paint, the lone available option, and destination & handling fees), capable of bettering 30 miles per gallon on the highway, equipped with every conceivable technology, amenity and convenience feature, the CX-30 checks all the boxes, surpassing most of its segment competitors in value.

Powertrain full of zoom, zoom

Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.5 Turbo four-cylinder engine produces 250 horsepower and 320 pounds-feet of torque on premium 93-octane fuel, while on regular 87 octane fuel it produces 227 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque, the same as last year.

Mazda uses the same powerplant in larger, heavier vehicles where it shines, so its stellar performance figures in this iteration (Car and Driver found it could go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a quick 5.8 seconds!) comes as no surprise.

The remainder of the powertrain, an automatic six-speed transmission, feeds this power into the i-Active all-wheel-drive (AWD) system.

This performance does not come at the expense of fuel economy. The federal Environmental Protection Agency rates the Mazda CX-30 Turbo at 25 miles per gallon in overall driving conditions (22 urban, 30 highway); I achieved 28.3 mpg during my heavy-footed week behind the wheel.

A chassis equal to the powertrain

Returning to the Car and Driver assessment once again, the iconic automotive-enthusiast publication wrote “Its crisp steering and fluid body movements make it a pleasure to pilot on a twisty road and provide a sense of stability when cruising.” Basically, C/D, like me, thinks this vehicle is a blast to drive, regardless of roads.

The pieces Mazda uses to achieve this are MacPherson-type struts with stabilizer bar up front and a well-located torsion beam setup in the rear. Very modest stuff, but very-well engineered by Mazda’s suspension wizards to make it work.

The power-assisted anti-lock (ABS) equipped brake system features 11.6-inch vented rotors up front, 11.9 solid ones in the rear. These live within 18×7-inch alloy wheels with black inserts which are shod with 215/55R18 all-season tires.

ADAS galore

The CX-30 Turbo Premium Plus package brings with it a comprehensive roster of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). A run through the group turns up automatic high-beam control; driver-attention alert; lane departure warning system; lane-keep assist; blind-spot monitor; rear cross-traffic alert; front-and-rear-parking sensors; traffic-jam assist; Mazda radar cruise control, and rear cross-traffic braking.

Other safety features include dynamic-stability control; traction-control system; advanced dual front airbags; front and rear side curtains; knee airbags; front-side-impact airbags, and tire-pressure-monitoring system.

Not generally listed as an ADAS system, but one I believe belongs in this category is the (in Mazda speak) Active Driving Display or a heads-up display. And Mazda’s, with ADAS information like blind-spot warning, is one of the better ones on the market!

Interior more premium, luxury than subcompact

Leather seating, power-adjustment up front, heat and ventilation for them as well, heated, multi-adjustable steering wheel, are some of the first indications the Mazda CX-30 Turbo Premium Plus is more a premium, virtually luxury, subcompact SUV (despite that sub-$40,000 all-in price).

The heart of the navigation-equipped infotainment system is the 8.8-inch color display, recessed at the top of the dash (the recess making it less obtrusive, less of a design after-thought than many of its competitors) is not a touch screen, but one controlled by either voice command, steering-wheel controls, or a console-mounted command rotary control surrounded by supplemental buttons.

It can be daunting at first, but once mastered, it works flawlessly and intuitively (and is shared across the company’s car and SUV models, thus once in the Mazda family, all is familiar).

Speaking of shared amongst the brand’s vehicles, the automatic climate-control switchgear is arranged in a simple-to-use piano-keyboard row to the left of the vents. Again, easy to learn and reach without taking your eyes off the road (thus making it a plus in terms of driving safety).

A solid choice in the subcompact SUV market

Mazda’s CX-30 Turbo Premium Plus allows anyone in the market for a subcompact SUV to choose a solid, fun-to-drive, efficient vehicle with features, amenities, driving systems to rival those offered in premium and luxury versions at far higher prices.

This is one vehicle I can recommend highly if the size works for you and if there is a Mazda dealer within reasonable distance.

Next week TBR Drives the Ford Maverick Tremor small pickup with off-road chops

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.