Mazda’s CX-30 Turbo –
Blower Your Expectations
The 2011 Subaru Forester, purchased as a second car when my wife and I still had a home in Fullerton, CA, has been owned and driven by our son Sean for most of the last decade. And with 110,000+ miles it is (still) doing well, requiring only those things you’d expect it to need after a decade of use. But as you get older – and your car or crossover gets older – you hope for a little more performance, a tad more refinement and – let’s admit it – a bit more comfort than a base Forester typically provides. And while Sean has both VW’s GTI and Subaru’s Outback on his radar, if he were willing to split that difference Mazda can now provide the fill-in-that-blank. It’s Mazda’s repowered Mazda CX-30, offering a semblance of GTI-type performance with some of the Outback’s versatility.
The CX-30, when introduced, slotted above the carmaker’s CX-3 and below Mazda’s CX-5. Math majors (and someone at Mazda knows math – they developed the rotary) would have suggested CX-4 as the tag, but we have a CX-30. And now that the CX-3 has been discontinued in North America, the tag debate is less relevant; they can call it what they want…and do.
The stretch given to the CX-30 offers a more practical platform for the young family, whereas the CX-3 was best suited to the young single or couple. Although the spec differences are fractional, they add up in both initial impression and granular calculations. The CX-30 grows three inches in wheelbase and almost five inches in overall length, while cargo capacity (behind the rear seat) is over two cubic feet more generous. And in terms of the walk-up or seeing both Mazda crossovers on the street, the CX-3 impresses as a great product for urban environments and on-street parking, while the CX-30 seems better geared toward the suburbs – and all the mall-hopping that implies.
Inside, you won’t be disappointed; this Mazda continues the upwardly mobile march Mazda has been on for roughly the last decade. The design is upscale, materials are first rate, and while the non-Premium CX-30 turbo is adorned with leatherette rather than leather, you’ll not be disappointed by either its look or feel. Opt for the Premium trim, however, and leather is yours.
Of course, it’s under-the-hood where the real differentiation takes place, relative to both lower-level trims and Mazda’s non-turbo powertrains. Buyers opting for the standard, normally aspirated powertrain won’t suffer, as its 186 horsepower is sufficient. But for performance appropriate to the CX-30’s design and execution, you really need the 250 horsepower (with premum fuel – 227 with regular) the turbocharged CX-30 supplies.
As we discovered with this powertrain under the hood of the Mazda3 (https://txgarage.com/2020/12/the-mazda3-awd-turbo-sedan-mazda-gives-a-hot-hatch-the-boot/), you’re not buying zoom-zoom here; instead, you’re opting for an almost sublime level of responsiveness. You won’t find your neck snapping, nor will you hear the spouse complaining. Instead, there is simply an assured, fluid rise in your speed, with none of the wheeziness that can emanate from the standard 2.5 liter, normally-aspirated mill. This is the powertrain every model in the Mazda lineup should come with, including today’s Miata.
Harnessing that power is a conventional 6-speed auto hooked to all four wheels. The end result is a mature confidence at any speed, and in most traffic situations. While we’ll inevitably rely on braking force to escape our traffic predicaments, the CX-30 Turbo supplies another alternative: simply gas it.
Relative to the GTI, the CX-30 offers more utility and refinement. When compared to Subaru’s Outback, the CX-30 is simply more like the GTI. And for those wanting Audi, BMW or Benz levels of performance and refinement, but don’t have the $45K necessary for the entry-level price points of the Germans, Mazda has the answer – and it will cost you no more than $35K. With the change you can buy yourself some 2-wheeled zoom-zoom. And invite your now-irritated spouse to stay home…