Mountain Wheels: Mazda’s CX-30 gets a new turbo engine option, but check your pump

Mazda’s small-but-capable CX-30 crossover offers an enjoyable, car-like but fully capable driving experience with two engine choices.
Courtesy picture

I remain confused, but in a good way, about a week I just spent in the small but impressive Mazda CX-30 crossover, a precursor to the CX-50 that I hope to drive in the coming months.

Let’s start from scratch and say that the CX-30 is indeed like the Mazda3 sedan (or new sexier sedan) only in terms of similar size. Beyond that, it’s sturdy, impressively versatile, and variable in power – an attribute I better explain first.

New for 2022 models is the option of an upgraded 2.5-litre turbo engine with two distinct power ratings, depending on how much money you want to spend on 2022’s most valuable product, the essence. The top-of-the-line AWD Premium Plus turbo model I drove was $34,400, plus some extra paint and advanced road safety options.



So I went into the style of a blind taste test and assumed that the listed 227 horsepower (and a healthy 310 pound-feet of torque) was the standard output of the CX-30. But it actually turns out that super premium 93 octane gas, which is hard to find in Colorado, will push those numbers to 250 hp and 320 lb-ft.

I think this may have helped explain some of the variable performance I got. There were times, especially on a South Park route, where I really wanted some extra horsepower, and also felt a bit gurgling in power as I headed down the tunnel from the east side. But there were also times when I looked down and realized the CX-30 was approaching 90 mph, so I can’t say it’s exactly starved of power. At those speeds and efforts, I got 20 mpg; it’s not that difficult to get the 30 mpg figure on the highway with more traditional commuting.



Alternatively, you can also get a naturally aspirated four-cylinder with 186 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, regardless of fuel.

For 2022, and depending on its crossover features, the CX-30 also comes equipped with the latest version of Mazda’s i-Activ AWD system, which incorporates advanced torque vectoring and even off-road traction assist, if you want to hit the ground with the auto.

As far as day-to-day experiences go, if you’re looking for the tallest beltline this side of a Lotus Evora, the CX-30’s short but chunky stature offers doors that are very, very tall, so tall you can’t not actually bend your left elbow without doing it at an odd right angle.

These lower window frames at cheek level have the potential to block your immediate side-to-side views of, for example, crocodiles, shopping carts or curbs, so mirror positioning and a healthy dose pre-pandemic shoulder checks are essential.

I thought I might have lowered the seats too much, but the CX-30 doesn’t have the headroom of larger crossovers and full SUVs, so the window profile is definitely one of its standard attributes.

Overall, the CX-30 offers a more car-like experience than many of these larger vehicles – perhaps the CX-50 will be right in the middle – with a comfortable, sporty and grippy ride in all seasons. It held very stable, even in 50mph gusts of wind on Loveland Pass, and offered turns that suggested a center of gravity as low as those gates are high.

The storage and access aspect of the CX-30 was pretty good too, with a power tailgate and a low load level, plus enough room for a ski bag, provided you ditch the leather seats. of the second row (which required moving the first row seats forward). The second-row seats are tall, and the large trio of second-row head restraints, combined with a flat roof profile, mean somewhat limited rear visibility.

The design very clearly mimics the CX-90, with an absolutely 45-degree angled hood/grille configuration, oversized wheel arch flares and a thick layer of front bumper road-proof trim. all along the body line – adding to the solid look of the CX-30.

Inside the cabin, you’ll also appreciate Mazda’s super understated designer look, with brown leather dash tops, door inserts and center console sides as the car’s only non-black feature. Chrome highlights, door handles, steering wheel and a nice horizontal bar of passenger side vents are all nice details. The updated 3D mapping also showed shimmering sunlight over Lake Dillon and detailed images of the Broncos stadium, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Andy Stonehouse

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