2021 Mazda CX-30 Turbo First Drive Review: Mazda’s Long March Upmarket

One in all our biggest gripes about the Mazda CX-30 has been its powertrain. For a model intent on being held in consideration with luxurious automakers, the usual CX-30 feels way more Honda, Nissan, or Toyota than Acura, Infiniti, or Lexus. Now armed with a extra highly effective optionally available engine, the brand new 2021 Mazda CX-30 Turbo goals to take the tiny Japanese automaker up the ladder into the luxury subcompact SUV ring with the established gamers.

What’s New?

New final yr, not a whole lot has changed with the CX-30 aside from the added turbo engine. Slotting between the marginally smaller CX-3 and considerably greater CX-5 (to not point out alongside the Mazda 3 hatchback), the 2021 CX-30 continues to return customary with a 2.5-liter I-Four that makes 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque, routing that energy both by way of a six-speed computerized to the entrance wheels or by way of an optionally available all-wheel-drive system.

Obtainable solely with all-wheel drive and a six-speed computerized, the CX-30 Turbo is powered by a 2.5-liter turbocharged I-Four producing 250 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque on premium 93 octane gasoline, or 226 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque on common 87 octane gasoline. Though Mazda has swapped in a brand new rear differential, modified the automated’s gear ratios, and retuned the suspension to deal with the brand new turbo-four’s torque, horsepower, and additional weight (respectively), it says the adjustments have been made primarily to make sure that CX-30 Turbos didn’t drive otherwise than naturally aspirated CX-30s.

Effectivity doesn’t endure a lot with the brand new CX-30 Turbo; the EPA charges the brand new mannequin at 22/30/25 mpg metropolis/freeway/mixed, whereas the naturally aspirated CX-30 AWD achieves 24/31/26 mpg.

How Does the CX-30 Turbo Drive?

There’s no means round it—the addition of a turbocharged engine represents an enormous enchancment to the CX-30 line. One of the biggest gripes we’ve had about the CX-30 is with the standard powertrain. The bottom I-Four lacks the low-end grunt of its extra fashionable opponents, and it’s paired with a dated, slow-shifting computerized gearbox. This leads to a irritating dance between the driving force’s proper foot and the transmission because the latter hunts round for the small candy spot within the 2.5-liter engine’s powerband.

With a broad powerband, shorter transmission gearing, and most vital, peak torque availability at simply 2,000 rpm, the CX-30 Turbo is considerably higher to drive than the non-turbocharged mannequin. Due to the brand new engine, there’s a newfound life within the CX-30. Whereas it’ll by no means be mistaken for the beloved (and long-departed) MazdaSpeed 3, it feels correctly fast if you flooring it from a cease, even exhibiting some modest torque steer regardless of the Turbo mannequin’s customary all-wheel-drive system.

Pushed extra sedately, the CX-30 Turbo will get up and off the road rapidly and and not using a fuss, and as soon as it will get on top of things, it hums quietly within the background. Passing energy is far improved, too, with sufficient torque on faucet that the CX-30 can lazily speed up with out having to downshift. That’s simply as effectively; regardless of revised gear ratios, the six-speed computerized nonetheless has the gradual, slushy downshifts and early upshifts that plague naturally aspirated variations of the CX-30. It additionally has a irritating tendency to upshift early and downshift late, even when in Sport or Guide drive modes (the latter of which is rarely really guide).

Though the turbo is an enormous enchancment over the bottom naturally aspirated engine, Mazda’s choice to tune the CX-30 Turbo to in any other case drive like the usual model was a missed alternative. Regardless of the newfound energy, the CX-30 Turbo nonetheless lacks a cohesive sense of objective (is it a luxurious SUV? A sporty SUV? Or one thing else totally?), and the drive expertise suffers due to it. The Mazda’s suspension, as an illustration, reads “sport.” Like the standard CX-30, the Turbo’s suspension is stiffly sprung on most impacts and skittish over tough ones (particularly at freeway speeds), making it by no means actually really feel settled down or confidence-inspiring.



Steering, however, reads as an try at a conventional Mazda sporty really feel; the steering rack is sizzling hatch fast, mild, however finally vague-feeling if you give in and begin to push the little CX-30. Sport mode doesn’t enhance issues; it makes the steering oppressively heavy, numbing what little really feel and suggestions was arising by way of the wheel. You’d anticipate a turbocharged all-wheel-drive Mazda hatch to be enjoyable to drive up a great winding street, however the truth is, this CX-30 lacks the particular sauce that every one Mazdas used to have.

What Concerning the CX-30’s Inside?

So how’s the remainder of the CX-30 Turbo package deal stack up? Properly, it’s loads like the remainder of the CX-30 lineup. The premium-looking and -feeling cabin goes a good distance in distracting from the Mazda’s claustrophobic cabin—particularly for those who’re a passenger. The entrance passenger’s seat doesn’t increase or decrease like the driving force’s seat does, and the rear seats are tight for adults, with a slender subject of view out of the home windows, because of the sloping (although engaging) roofline. Cargo area is center of the pack amongst mainstream subcompact SUVs, with automobiles like the Kia Seltos and Subaru Crosstrek providing considerably extra quantity. Nonetheless, the CX-30 scores effectively by way of cargo area towards some luxurious subcompact SUVs just like the Lexus UX and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Even so, we want the Mazda’s rear seats have been able to folding flat.

How A lot Is the 2021 CX-30 Turbo?

Whereas some mainstream automakers provide turbocharged engine choices for a small premium (or within the case of the Seltos, totally free), the turbocharged engine is simply obtainable on upper-level CX-30s. The most affordable strategy to get a turbo is within the CX-30 2.5 Turbo trim, which stickers for $31,225. Subsequent up the ladder is the CX-30 2.5 Turbo Premium, which, for $33,625, provides an influence liftgate, leather-based seats, and a muddy-sounding 12-speaker Bose audio system, amongst different issues. The highest canine of the CX-30 lineup is the CX-30 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus, which provides options like a 360-degree digicam and site visitors jam help and stickers for $35,225.

Is the CX-30 Turbo Higher Than the usual CX-30? Sure, however…

That pricing construction places the CX-30 in an actual powerful spot. For mainstream consumers, the $30,000–$35,000 vary will possible make most suppose twice a few small subcompact crossover, and so they as an alternative could discover their means into a less expensive CX-30 competitor or a bigger compact SUV. Greatest-case state of affairs for Mazda, this leads to a CX-Three or CX-5 sale. Luxurious patrons, however, possible aren’t used to seeing Mazda as a premium model, and should flip their nostril up on the CX-30 Turbo and go for a Volvo XC40 or BMW X1 for related cash.

And finally, that represents the most important drawback for not simply the CX-30 Turbo, however the CX-30 lineup as a complete: Mazda’s glacial march upmarket from mainstream to a premium model has resulted within the CX-30 caught in no man’s land—it’s too costly, small, and compromised to compete convincingly towards the perfect mainstream subcompacts just like the Seltos or Crosstrek, whereas it lacks the cachet, pricing construction, and cohesive drive expertise of the luxurious subcompacts. Where the CX-30 Turbo ends up excelling then is against the bottom tier of each courses, which isn’t precisely a recipe for fulfillment.

No matter how the brand new CX-30 Turbo stacks up towards its luxe and mainstream rivals, there’s no denying the brand new powertrain is a major enchancment to the road—however the CX-30’s flaws are too deep to be mounted with simply the addition of a brand new engine.

2021 Mazda CX-30 Turbo
PRICE $31,225-$35,225
LAYOUT Entrance-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.5L/250-hp/310-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 6-speed auto
CURB WEIGHT 3,500 lbs (MT Est)
WHEELBASE 104.5 in
L x W x H 173.Zero x 70.7 x 61.7 in
0-60 MPH 7.7 sec (MT est)
EPA FUEL ECON 22/30/25 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 153/112 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.78 lb/mile (est)
*Horsepower figures achieved with 93 Octane gasoline; 226-hp achieved on 87 Octane gasoline.

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