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First Drive - 2020 Mazda CX-30 Hits The Sweet Spot

We drive the all-new 2020 Mazda CX-30 and understand why Mazda built it.


When Mazda first revealed the all-new CX-30 (sub) compact crossover, we wondered why they did so. After all, isn't the few-year-old CX-3 that vehicle for Mazda? If you have driven a CX-3 you probably noticed a few things. First off, it is smaller than you really want inside. Second, it doesn't have the power that you really want. Five minutes behind the wheel of the all-new CX-30 explained the answer to why Mazda created this new crossover.

We liked the CX-3. We even took the CX-3 on-track to see how it handled in extreme situations. But as competitors rolled out vehicles like the excellent Kona, we knew that Mazda's CX-3 was going to have a hard time winning hearts and minds. The sales numbers also reflect that reality.

Mazda CX-30 logo

The CX-30, by contrast, seems like a winner. We didn't test the CX-30. Rather, it was made available to us by Mazda at a New England Motor Press Winter Testing event. We spent about 30 minutes with the CX-30. About double the average test drive. We came away very impressed.

Mazda CX-30 interior

Inside, the CX-30 feels big enough. It is not the same level of space you feel in a CX-5, but it could work for a family of four. That special Mazda premium vibe is on full display. Mazda is now our favorite vehicle in many ways with regard to affordable luxury. Sleek and stylish would be the words we would pick.

Related Story: All-New 2020 Mazda CX-30 Crossover- Specs and Multiple Images

The CX-30 also gets the CX-5's 2.5-liter engine. The CX-3 makes do with the Mazda 2.0-liter engine. The difference is big. You can feel it. The CX-30 feels sporty and fun and the power delivery is great through its geared automatic transmission. Would we love to see a small turbo-hybrid with a CVT? Yes, we would.

If you are shopping for a new small crossover, be sure to add the new Mazda CX-30 to your list to check out. It is on sale now and if you are a fan of Mazda, you will not be disappointed.

John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career and dedicated himself to chasing his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and connect with him at Linkedin.

Image notes: Interior image courtesy of Mazda. Other images by the author.


Digitaldoc (not verified)    February 14, 2020 - 10:14PM

I think Mazda did a good job on the CX-30, and for the money is a good value. It should prop up the sales, and make up for the miss on the Mazda 3. I still wish that we got the Skyactiv X engine, arguably one of the more interesting ICE's, but so far only available overseas.