2021 Mazda CX-30 Performance

9.0
Mazda CX-30 Performance Rating
82
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Mazda CX-30 Performance

In the past, the Mazda CX-30 has struggled to keep up with some of the competition. This is because it has been restricted to the use of a plain old four-cylinder engine with only 186 hp and 186 lb-ft. Paired with either FWD or AWD, this is only enough to get the subcompact from 0-60 mph in around eight seconds, according to independent test drive reports. This acceleration is on par with similarly powered rivals, like the Ford EcoSport, but falls far short of what turbo-powered competitors are reporting. Top speed maxes out at around 126 mph.

The new 2.5 Turbo model uses a turbocharged four-pot with up to 250 hp and 320 lb-ft, and although Mazda doesn't quote 0-60 times for the CX-30, independent tests place the car at 6.2 seconds. This is slightly quicker than the turbocharged Hyundai Kona, which takes 6.6 seconds, but the upcoming Kona N should upstage the Mazda CX-30's performance. The new power plant is available with AWD only, but it gets the same six-speed automatic transmission as the standard engine. While the auto hasn't disappointed us in the past, it can't match the refinement and responsiveness found in some competitors.

2021 Mazda CX-30 Front Angle View CarBuzz
2021 Mazda CX-30 Wheel CarBuzz
2021 Mazda CX-30 Engine Bay CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

The base engine under the hood of the Mazda CX-30 remains the same 2.5-liter four-pot that debuted last year. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, it develops 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque for the front wheels as standard. Every trim level can upgrade to the all-wheel drivetrain for $1,400. Overall, the powertrain is still capable, with smooth power delivery, but it will feel quite bland if you take the brand-new 2.5 Turbo for a test drive first.

The new top-tier Turbo receives a 2.5L turbocharged four-pot, which finally gives the Mazda CX-30 the kind of horsepower that its rivals taunted it with last year. When burning regular gasoline, it develops 227 hp and 310 lb-ft, but this is boosted to 250 hp and 320 lb-ft if you don't mind paying for premium. The same six-speed automatic transmission does duty in this Mazda CX-30 configuration, but AWD is the only option. Whatever complaints buyers might have had about the Mazda's sluggish performance will quickly be silenced the moment you feel the engine hum to life and surge the subcompact past slower cars on the highway. With 310 lb-ft of torque on tap, this engine loves to deliver twist at low rpms, but can run out of steam at the top of the rev range. Think of it more like a diesel or a luxury powertrain than a hot hatch engine, and the turbo mill doesn't disappoint.

Mazda CX-30 Performance Specs:

Mazda CX-30 TrimsBaseSelectPreferredPremiumTurboTurbo PremiumTurbo Premium Plus
Mazda CX-30 Engines2.5L Inline-4 Gas2.5L Inline-4 Gas2.5L Inline-4 Gas2.5L Inline-4 Gas2.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas2.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas2.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Mazda CX-30 Horsepower186 hp @ 6000 rpm186 hp @ 6000 rpm186 hp @ 6000 rpm186 hp @ 6000 rpm227 hp @ 5000 rpm227 hp @ 5000 rpm227 hp @ 5000 rpm
Mazda CX-30 Transmissions6-Speed Automatic6-Speed Automatic6-Speed Automatic6-Speed Automatic6-Speed Automatic6-Speed Automatic6-Speed Automatic
Mazda CX-30 DrivetrainsAWD
FWD
AWD
FWD
AWD
FWD
AWD
FWD
AWDAWDAWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Constructed on the frame of the sporty Mazda 3, the CX-30 handles more like a car than a burly SUV, which is not all that surprising, considering its tight subcompact dimensions. Naturally, it rides higher than a sedan or hatchback, which gives the driver better visibility and more confidence. Still, its small size and sleek design allow it to be more playful than a traditional high-rider.

Steering is tight and direct, but light enough to facilitate nimble maneuvers when you need to snag that last parking spot at the mall. Pick up some speed and it gains a little heft, though feedback remains limited. Selecting Sport mode from the drive options tightens up throttle responses to turn up the fun level of the CUV, but the steering weight remains unchanged.

Ride comfort is adequate though not luxurious, given the size of the vehicle. The rear torsion beam suspension is the lone weak point, causing the back end to go jolting into the air over large bumps and crests in the road. But wind and road noise are well managed without needing to turn the sound system up to full blast. The available all-wheel drivetrain is great for slippery road conditions, but given the limited ground clearance, unaggressive tires, and overall city-friendly design of the CX-30, it is not advised that you take it off-road, even though the i-Activ system does include off-road traction assist.

CX-30 Gas Mileage

Small SUVs boast pretty good gas mileage figures, and the CX-30 is on par with rivals in terms of economy. In its base FWD guise, it returns an EPA-estimated 25/33/28 miles per gallon across the city/highway/combined cycles. Naturally, upgrading to the optional all-wheel drivetrain sees these figures drop nominally to 24/31/26 mpg. The turbo model is only slightly less economical, rated at 22/30/25. We observed around 22.5 mpg in mostly city driving. The regular FWD models receive a 13.5-gallon fuel tank, while AWD variants get a smaller 12.7-gallon tank. This allows them to roam for 378 miles and 330 miles, respectively.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.5 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 25/33 mpg
* 2021 Mazda CX-30 Base FWD
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