The Mazda CX-3 is gone, but in its place, Mazda’s entry-level crossover, the CX-30 is quite an upgrade over the CX-3. The subcompact crossover segment is packed with good models to choose from, but thanks to its stylish exterior, luxurious interior and turbocharged engine, the 2022 Mazda CX-30 stands out.
The CX-30 fits just below the CX-5 in Mazda’s growing crossover lineup. The good news is that if you like the Mazda3 hatchback but want a slightly more rugged package, the CX-30 is for you. The CX-30 in many ways looks and feels like a lifted Mazda 3. It has 2.5-inches more ground clearance, and it’s 5 inches taller than the hatchback.
Just like the 3, the CX-30 exudes a more premium look and feel than its rivals. That sculpted body could easily wear a luxury badge. It would be nice if Mazda introduced a version without all the black lower trim, but that’s just a small gripe.
The CX-30 is available with a choice of two engines. The standard engine is a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder, but the more exciting option is the turbocharged 2.5-liter that really brings the CX-30 to life. The turbo generates 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque if you run it on 93 octane fuel. Those specs drop to 227 hp and 310 lb-ft. on 87 octane. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive is standard.
The naturally aspirated four-cylinder is rated at 24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined, while the turbo is rated at 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined.
The turbocharged engine is the one to choose if you want to have more fun behind the wheel than in your average small crossover. The engine gets you moving from a stop with ease and there’s plenty of midrange power on tap. We’ll say it again, there aren’t many subcompact crossovers that are this fun to drive, except the Hyundai Kona N.
The engine is great, but the six-speed automatic seems a bit outdated considering the fact that eight and nine-speed automatic transmissions are now the norm. Either way the transmission mostly does a good job of finding the right gear without too much drama.
Since the CX-30 rides a bit higher than the Mazda3, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it doesn’t hug the road just like the hatchback. But don’t fret, the CX-30 is almost just as fun to fling around a corner on a back country road. The suspension finds the perfect balance between comfort and sport, meaning that body roll is kept in check.
Once the paved road ends, the CX-30 is ready to zoom up a dirt road or climb over small obstacles. The CX-30 is definitely not a rugged crossover, but it can still hold its own if you’re doing some light off-roading.
Inside the CX-30’s interior retains Mazda’s minimalistic design approach with simple clean lines and high quality materials. Just like every other Mazda, we have an issue with the infotainment system. Sitting on top of the dashboard, there’s an 8.8-inch screen, but you have to use a rotary dial on the center console to operate it. Yup, there’s no touchscreen. It’s infuriating to use, especially when you’re trying to keep your eyes on the road. On the plus side, it does have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
On the safety front, the CX-30 comes standard with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure mitigation. The Premium Plus trim adds a 360-degree camera, traffic jam assist and rear cross-traffic braking.
Just like the Mazda 3, the CX-30’s interior is a bit snug, especially for rear seat passengers. Legroom in the back is an issue if anyone in the front seats is close to 6 feet tall. Cargo space is also not great with 20.2 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up and 45.2 cubic feet with the seats folded down. That’s less cargo space than you’ll get in the Honda HR-V or Subaru Crosstrek, but don’t forget that the CX-30 is way more fun to drive than those two rivals.
The pricing for the 2022 CX-30 starts at $23,775, while the turbocharged version starts at $31,775.
At the end of the day, the 2022 Mazda CX-30 is a stand out. It looks great, the interior feels a class above its rivals and that turbocharged engine gives you more fun than you’ll find elsewhere in this price range.
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