Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo AWD, a Sporty Crossover?
This is the second part of a multi-part series. Part 1 “Stick With Mazda or Go To Hyundai?" will get you all caught up.
Mazda entered the small crossover game in 2016 with the introduction of the CX-3. While that vehicle was well received (my local dealership had trouble keeping them on the lot), there were some of us who felt that the CX-3 was a little on the too small side, having been built on the Mazda2 platform.
Mazda apparently thought so too, releasing the CX-30 in North America in January 2020 to squeeze into the lineup between the CX-3 and the CX-5. Unlike the CX-3, the CX-30 uses the larger Mazda3 platform, keeping its dimensions pretty close to the Mazda3 Sport. That essentially makes the CX-30 more of a lifted hatchback than a crossover, and that makes for a very interesting combination.
Not to let their other vehicles have all the fun, Mazda decided to shove the 2.5L SKYACTIV-G Turbo engine into the model for 2021, and oh boy was that a fantastic decision.
"I'm not a clean enough person to have a white interior anything."
Arriving at the dealership, I was greeted with the sight of the CX-30 GT Turbo AWD waiting out front. The Polymetal Grey Metallic exterior appeared as a darker grey then the lighter bluish grey you’d see under a sunnier sky, but somehow it was still able to make grey look good.
Being the Turbo model, this one had the Black Leather interior with brown highlights, but one could opt for the Pure White Leather option at no additional cost. While I’m sure the contrast of the exterior with the Pure White Leather would look fantastic, I’m not a clean enough person to have a white interior anything. I just wish Mazda offered the stunning Garnet Red Leather interior like you can find on the Mazda3 Sport.
"Popping the transmission into manual shift mode, I pulled out onto the road to begin my test drive and was immediately doing 75 in a 50 KM/h zone."
The interior itself is upscale; feeling very premium with many soft-touch surfaces just waiting to have fingers poked into. Its the same interior as the redesigned Mazda3 as part of Mazda’s push to move upmarket into the low-end luxury vehicle segment.
The engine fired up without any fanfare or noise above what I was used to hearing out of my 2016 Mazda3 Sport, despite having 72 more horsepower and a turbo. Not unexpected though for a modern 2.5L 4-cylinder engine at idle; it just didn’t betray any hint of what was to come.
Letting the vehicle creep across the parking lot under its own power to the edge of the road, I could barely hear any noise from the engine or outside world. Popping the transmission into manual shift mode, I pulled out onto the road to begin my test drive and was immediately doing 75 in a 50 KM/h zone with a gentle roar of the engine.
Great googly-moogly! I had barely touched the gas and had only just shifted into 2nd
before I was travelling far faster than I intended too. The 310lb-ft of torque on this thing was more than capable of getting up to the proper speed limit. Figuring out how much gas to apply and when to shift was going to take some time.
I decided to wait until I was approaching the highway before pushing the little button in the center console that I’d been eyeing ever since I put the car into drive: Sport mode.
"It's not the same as taking the car on a proper winding backroad, but within the city it would do for a short test of whether or not this car would put a grin on my face."
Turning onto the on ramp, I hit that little button and the car responded quickly with a noticeable increase in forward motion. Getting up to highway speed took no time at all, and cruising along at 100 KM/h felt more like doing 70. Everything was quiet and relaxed, and very very comfortable.
Despite being a small crossover, and lifted a few inches higher than the Mazda3 Sport, I felt very little difference in driver height position than I did in my 2016. I’m not a huge fan of the “riding” above the road feeling you get in mid-size SUVs, so this was a welcome surprise that I wasn’t expecting.
After a few minutes on the highway, I exited towards a small twisty stretch of road that I travel pretty much every time I leave my house. It’s not the same as taking the car on a proper winding backroad, but within the city it would do for a short test of whether or not this car would put a grin on my face.
Hello grin, meet face. This was what I had wanted with the 2019 Mazda3 Sport, only to face bitter disappointment in the new generation. The CX-30 modestly shifted me in my seat. Not as rough as my 2016 would, but that’s too be expected with the G-Vectoring Control System. It was still enough though to give me what I was missing from the Mazda3; being connected with the road below.
"I didn't want to like this car. I wanted a good reason to either stay with my 2016, or at least stay in the small hatchback car world with the Mazda3 Sport or Hyundai Veloster N."
Almost like a cat curled up in a lap, contented, the engine gave a small throaty purr as I accelerated out of the turn. Back on the brakes and downshifting for the next turn, the car turned in beautifully with the level of responsiveness I’ve gotten used to with my 2016.
Back onto the regular city streets, I put the car back into Normal mode and cranked the audio while I enjoyed the rest of the drive back to the dealership. Pulling back into the dealership I saw my car on the lot, and honestly didn’t feel too bad thinking about maybe upgrading to something newer.
I like this car. I like this car far more than I was expecting. I like this car far more than I wanted too. In a world where more and more people are increasingly giving up the small cars and sedans for crossovers, SUVs, and pickup trucks, I didn’t want to like this car. I wanted a good reason to either stay with my 2016, or at least stay in the small hatchback car world with the Mazda3 Sport or Hyundai Veloster N. Now I’m not so sure.
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