If you’re wondering where in Mazda’s range the new CX-30 fits, think of it as a CX-4. But don’t…

Luxurious interior; dynamic handling; spec

Pricing too close to CX-5; firm ride

Twenty-year-old me dreamt of driving fast cars in dangerous places … living like there was no tomorrow. Then my 30s hit. In a flash, everything changed. From catapulting into parallel parking spots with my mom’s 1999 cosmic green Jetta, with the handbrake pretty much burning out for that five seconds of fame to impress my mates with my mad skills, to suddenly choosing a car in my 30s based on whether it has a reverse camera and park assist. Sigh. I thought those were the days; little did I know, the best was yet to come.

Mazda, one of the wild-child manufacturers back then, had me cheering them on in the streets of Paarl while the Honda Boys and the Mazda Drift Kings were burning rubber and breaking the rules. There were no curfews (sorry, uncle Cyril), so from sunset to sunrise, we lived our best lives a quarter-mile at a time. Fast-forward to 2021, life is substantially different and has slowed down quite a bit. It’s all about comfort with a shot of entertainment. Something like the new CX-30, perhaps?

Mazda CX-30

The newest Mazda crossover slots in between the CX-3 and the CX-5. You might wonder why Mazda didn’t opt for the CX-4 name for this hot new crossover but it already gifted the name to another product that is sold exclusively in China. Mazda had to come up with a catchy yet relevant name that wouldn’t confuse the market too much within the CX range. Hence the birth of the CX-30. Now that we’re all caught up, lets dive into the latest model from Hiroshima, Japan.

As elsewhere in this issue, we have to again highlight how quickly the market for compact crossovers has grown. What are they, though? Well, they’re higher-riding models based on more modest hatchback underpinnings, and the CX-30 is no different; it’s basically a Mazda3 in hiking boots. Like that vehicle, the CX-30 is a sleek, sophisticated device thanks to Mazda’s vaunted Kodo design language.

Mazda CX-30

There are three derivatives in the range: Active, Dynamic and Individual (which is the one we’re testing here). All come with front-wheel drive, a torque-converter automatic transmission and, somewhat controversially in 2021, a naturally aspirated engine, in this case Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.0-litre unit. It delivers 121 kW at 6 000 r/min plus 213 Nm of torque at 4 000 r/min.

Standard specification is generous, even on the base Active, and all models sport LED headlamps, six airbags, headup display and Mazda’s MZD infotainment system with an 8.8-inch screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We’ll dive into the Individual’s stellar spec in a bit.

Mazda CX-30

Going back to the exterior, there are nine colour options. The two base models, Active and Dynamic, have 16-inch grey metallic alloy wheels and the range-topping Individual packs 18-inch silver metallic alloys.

As impressive as the CX-30 looks in the parking lot, it gets better on the move. Pulling off from the starting blocks sees the CX-30 take off with vigour. Certainly, it lacks some overtaking punch at higher revs but the 2.0-litre engine is surprisingly strong, though vocal (curiously, Mazda SA doesn’t quote performance figures), and responds to throttle inputs with alacrity.

The ride might take a bit more getting used to. Mazdas generally drive really well but, in the CX-30, that’s coupled with firm damping that might come as a shock to some expecting a cushy experience. It does, however, even out with a bit more pace under the wheels.

Still, that means composed handling on the open road and it’s a real joy piloting the CX-30. It’s frugal, too, delivering 7.0 L/100 km during our week together, which is very close to Mazda’s claim.

Now, for the CX-30’s major triumph. Plush is the word of the day when we take the party inside. With di­fferent, modern-looking and -feeling materials used on the dash, the doors and other surfaces, the CX-30 feels contemporary and expensive without resorting to too much brightwork.

Mazda CX-30

Navigating your way around the infotainment system is pretty straightforward thanks to a convenient scroller wheel. Once you connect your Android or Apple device, it gets even easier to use. The cabin is refined, too, and most of the time the only loud noise you’ll hear is the sound escaping the Bose 12-speaker surround-sound system. It’s but one of many luxury-car toys on the Individual, which also chucks in dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, parking sensors plus a reverse camera, electrically adjustable driver’s seat and leather trim.

If there’s one criticism, it’s that the CX-30 feels a tad tight in the back, exacerbated by a high scuttle, compact side and rear windows, and dark glazing. The boot, too, isn’t the biggest.

Deep Data

Mazda CX-30 2.0 Individual AT

Price: R540 000
Engine: 2.0-litre, 4-cyl, petrol
Transmission: 6-spd AT
Driven wheels: F
Power: 121 kW @ 6 000 r/min
Torque: 213 Nm @ 4 000 r/min 0-100 km/h: n/a
Top speed: n/a
Fuel consumption: 6.6 L/100 km
CO2 : 160 g/km
Length: 4 395 mm
Height: 1 540 mm
Width: 1 795 mm
Wheelbase: 2 655 mm
Weight: 1 340 kg
Luggage capacity: 295 L
Fuel tank: 51 L
Warranty: 3 years/ unlimited km
Service plan: 3 years/ unlimited km


Rating: 4/5

The CX-30 is an interesting new addition to the Mazda range. Based on the excellent Mazda3 but with its own unique style, it should do very well indeed, despite the price overlapping the bigger CX-5’s (see Which CX?)…

Which CX?

Mazda’s potentially created a headache for itself with the positioning of the CX-30. Priced from R469 000 for the 2.0 Active AT to R540 000 for this flagship Individual, the newcomer straddles the segments occupied by the CX-3 and CX-5. The flagship CX-3 – the 2.0 Hikari – offers the same engine/ transmission combo as the CX-30 but in a smaller body. The Hikari is better equipped than the CX-30 Active, but even smaller inside and doesn’t feel as upmarket.

The bigger conundrum is posed by the CX-5. You can get either a 2.0 Active AT or a 2.0 Dynamic AT for quite a lot less than our CX-30 Individual AT. Which one would we choose? Well, more than likely the more refined, comfortable and spacious CX-5 in Active guise…