8.0/10Score

Score breakdown

8.0

Safety, value and features

8.0

Comfort and space

7.5

Engine and gearbox

8.5

Ride and handling

8.0

Technology

Things we like

  • Expansive standard equipment
  • Feels as planted as a good hatchback
  • Premium design

Not so much

  • Engine in need of more oomph
  • Lacks second-row and boot space
  • Old-school halogen DRLs

8.0/10Score

Score breakdown

8.0

Safety, value and features

8.0

Comfort and space

7.5

Engine and gearbox

8.5

Ride and handling

8.0

Technology

Things we like

  • Expansive standard equipment
  • Feels as planted as a good hatchback
  • Premium design

Not so much

  • Engine in need of more oomph
  • Lacks second-row and boot space
  • Old-school halogen DRLs

If you’re looking to purchase a brand-new vehicle for your newly licensed offspring, a small SUV can provide an excellent balance of safety, economy and practicality.

Is Mazda’s CX-30 worth considering for the job? To find out, we’ve put young fella Jordan Hickey in the Pure grade.


The small SUV segment is growing rapidly in Australia, and the Mazda CX-30 is one of the biggest culprits in this surge.

We’ve already tested several variants in the 2021 Wheels Car of the Year range, including the newly launched G25 Touring SP and mild-hybrid G20e Evolve, but it’s now time to evaluate the most affordable model: the 2022 Mazda CX-30 G20 Pure.

Launched in early 2020, the CX-30 – closely related to the current Mazda 3 – sits on the podium for small SUV sales, behind the cheap-as-chips MG ZS and ahead of key competitors, including the Kia Seltos, Hyundai Kona, Mitsubishi ASX and GWM Haval Jolion.

In addition, the CX-30 will face the Toyota Corolla Cross and Nissan Qashqai later this year.

The basics

Engine 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder
Power 114kW @ 6000rpm
Torque 200Nm @ 4000rpm
Claimed fuel consumption 6.1L/100km
Price $31,185 before on-road costs

Mazda’s local arm tells us the entry-level Pure variant is the third best-selling variant in the CX-30 range, behind the mid-spec G20 Evolve and G20 Touring – showcasing the value-proposition found at the bottom end of the 10-strong model line-up.

The expansive range provides an option for all, comprising the G20 Pure, G20 Evolve, G20e Evolve M-Hybrid, G20 Touring, G20 Touring SP, G25 Touring, G25 Touring SP, G20 Astina, G25 Astina and X20 Astina.

A six-speed automatic is standard for all variants except the G20 Pure, which opens with a price-leading six-speed manual gearbox.

NOTE: While the CX-30 G20 Pure was on test with Wheels Media, Mazda Australia announced a stop-sale for all 2.0-litre variants, excluding the G20 Astina, due to stock shortages. These models should become available in the coming months, with limited stock currently available at dealerships. The brand advises buyers to speak to their local dealer for the latest information.

In a unique move, Mazda allows buyers to option the Vision Technology package on the automatic (but not manual) G20 Pure and G20 Evolve, whereas it is standard on the Evolve M-Hybrid, Touring SP and Astina variants.

Opting for this pack nets a 360-degree camera system, front parking sensors, a driver monitoring camera, front-cross traffic alert and traffic jam assist. A necessary tick-box? Nope, as the standard array of active safety kit is comprehensive enough.

However, if your budget can stretch a further $1500, the higher-quality cameras and front sensors are a nice-to-have – but be prepared for the potential of an extended wait time since the option is factory-fitted.

Alright, now that’s out of the way. Let’s get back to the CX-30 G20 Pure.

Pricing and features

As tested, our automatic G20 Pure FWD example – finished in the $595-extra Red Crystal metallic – is priced from $31,685 before on-road costs or $35,895 drive-away in Victoria.

Price-wise, it squares up against the Toyota Corolla Cross GX ($33,000), the updated Kia Seltos Sport ($30,290), and Hyundai Kona Elite ($31,900). All before on-road costs. A new-gen Nissan Qashqai is also imminent.

The idea of a ‘poverty pack’ vehicle is quickly diminishing, with a strong mix of technological and safety features as standard in the CX-30, such as a head-up display to keep your eyes on the road and a 7.0-inch semi-digital instrument cluster – both are rare at this end of the small SUV market.

For model year 2022, Mazda swapped out the G20 Pure’s chintzy plastic steering wheel and gear shifter for leather-accented items, addressing our strongest gripe with the entry-level CX-30 and lifting the ambience (although industry-wide supply issues led to Mazda providing a 2021 example for this review).

Equipment highlights include 16-inch alloy wheels, manual air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, manually-adjustable seats, an electronic parking brake with handy auto-hold function and rain-sensing wipers.

Unlike the Kia and Hyundai, automatic LED headlights and taillights are standard – but this is let down by halogen daytime running lamps (DRLs), which cheapen its look.

It’s a strange design choice, as there is a white/amber LED strip on the front bumper for the side lights and indicators, with the latter having an excellent pulsating design. Mazda could easily modify this to incorporate always-on DRLs.

The high beams provide a decent range on rural roads, and the automatic high beam has been fine-tuned since the CX-30 and 3 first launched, requiring less manual intervention.

While the fitment of push-button start is excellent, it is let down by the omission of keyless entry, which is limited to the G20e Evolve and above. This means you’ll miss out on the capacitive door handle sensors and the walk-away lock feature, but this is a common issue among its entry-level rivals (many of which also retain an old-school ignition key).

On the technology front, the CX-30 sports an 8.8-inch Mazda Connect infotainment system, which lacks a touchscreen but is easy to use with a rotary controller dial.

Apart from the advantage of never having to worry about marks – until an unwitting passenger touches it – the dial works quite well with Mazda’s software. It functions okay with wired-only Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it is easy to become accustomed to smartphone mirroring with the dial, but those systems are clearly designed with touch in mind.

In saying this, scrolling down a long list of music in a playlist to find a song, for example, is more intuitive and less distracting with the rotary setup compared to touch.

While most buyers will naturally use navigation from Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the embedded system works well, with directions in the head-up display.

Mazda offers three years of complimentary map updates, but this pales in comparison to Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze, which are always up to date.

In addition, unlike Siri or Google Assistant, don’t expect to have a human-like conversation with the built-in voice control when setting your map – and scrolling from A-Z to enter a destination can be painful.

The eight-speaker audio system provides great clarity but lacks a subwoofer, which is noticeable with bassy songs. Only the flagship Astina includes a higher-quality 12-speaker Bose unit with a woofer.

Image quality from the reverse camera is average – neither crisp nor blurry – but it doesn’t fill the entire screen, which is disappointing.

The colour palette is identical across the CX-30 range, with five no-cost paint options (Snowflake White, Jet Black, Deep Crystal Blue, Platinum Quartz and Sonic Silver) and three $595-extra metallic finishes (Soul Red Crystal, Polymetal Grey and Machine Grey).

With the smaller alloys – and red paint – the excessive plastic body cladding is quite noticeable. It should be slimmer to improve the otherwise handsome styling.

Safety

A five-star ANCAP safety rating covers the Mazda CX-30 range, based on testing conducted in 2019.

Seven airbags (dual front, side, curtain, and driver’s knee) are standard.

It packs a comprehensive suite of active safety features even in base form. This includes autonomous emergency braking with vehicle, pedestrian, cyclist and reversing detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, driver attention alert and traffic sign recognition.

The lane-keep assist system works well for steering intervention, with a subtle jolt of the wheel when veering close to the edge, but it is quick to alert the driver – either visually in the head-up display or audibly too.

Meanwhile, Mazda could improve the traffic sign recognition system during roadworks and in wet weather, but it is almost perfect in normal conditions. It can work with the speed limiter (known as intelligent speed assist in Mazda parlance) but not with the adaptive cruise.

A reversing camera and rear parking sensors are standard, which can be expanded to include a better-quality 360-degree system and front sensors – plus front cross-traffic alert, traffic jam assist and a driver monitoring camera – with the $1500 Vision Technology package.

The second row includes two ISOFIX anchors, three top tether points and rear door locks.

Comfort and space

The cabin of the Mazda CX-30 remains a class leader, even at the entry level.

It’s pleasant and straightforward, with few quirks. The buttons and dials are tactile and materials in the front are soft to the touch.

One quirk is that the dashboard layout – padded in soft blue leatherette – could obscure the bottom section of the screen for shorter drivers, while the piano black surfaces in the cabin will look good for about one week before scratches emerge.

The cloth upholstery is comfortable; however, there is no driver’s seat lumbar support or height adjustment on the passenger side.

Don’t expect to find the glovebox useful with the handbook stored, while the centre console is small but deep. It offers a nifty phone holder to keep your device upright, but it seems a little flimsy if you’ve got a larger device.

All grades include two USB-A ports in the centre console, helping to keep cables out of sight, but there are no modern USB-C outlets, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, or power connections for the second row. All three features are offered in the Skoda Kamiq.

In the back, the CX-30 isn’t as roomy as some other small SUVs, with limited space for taller passengers.

Nevertheless, it’s an improvement over the Mazda3 hatch, which feels very claustrophobic in the second row. When sitting behind my driving position, head, leg and toe room were acceptable for me at 183cm tall, but it would likely become cramped on longer trips.

In base form, it also lacks rear air vents and a rear-centre armrest. Both amenities are fitted on G20 Evolve and above.

2022 Mazda CX-30 boot space

The boot has a small 317-litre capacity. This compares poorly against the Nissan Qashqai (490L), Toyota Corolla Cross (487L), Honda HR-V (437L) and Kia Seltos (433L), while even the slender Hyundai Kona has a larger 374L capacity.

It’s not all bad, though, as the CX-30 can extend up to 430 litres with underfloor storage. With the 60:40 split-fold second row down, it has a 1406-litre total capacity.

On the road

As G20 name hints, the Pure is powered by a naturally-aspirated (non-turbo) 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine.

The engine produces 114kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm at 4000rpm, with a more-powerful 138kW/252Nm 2.5-litre available on G25 grades.

It is compatible with 91RON regular unleaded petrol.

The base 2.0-litre lacks initial punch – which will assist with fuel economy in city driving – but it has a sharp throttle response with decent mid-range performance.

While it’s a sportier tone, the engine note is loud when accelerating, so more insulation would better suit the nature of the CX-30 – especially since wind and tyre noise are pleasantly hushed.

It gets even louder when switching into the Sport drive mode, which seems only to hold the gear ratios, thus requiring more acceleration.

While it doesn’t feel slow, the CX-30 would be more engaging with a lower-capacity turbocharged engine or by stepping up to the more powerful 2.5-litre mill.

The six-speed automatic is a reliable and well-tuned unit, remaining a solid choice compared to other continuously variable and dual-clutch transmissions. However, we look forward to testing Mazda’s modern eight-speed auto in the CX-60 and hope it will filter through to lower models in the coming years.

Mazda’s start/stop system works well. It stops the engine with a solid press of the brake pedal, and restarts almost instantly with little noise or vibration, unlike some other vehicles.

However, the system hardly activated during our time with the car, with a ‘low battery risk’ message at one point and Melbourne’s cold weather requiring more heating.

2022 Mazda CX-30 G20 fuel consumption

Claimed fuel consumption is listed at 6.5L/100km. This is a lower claim than the 7.1L/100km achieved during our time with the car in both urban and highway environments, which seems accurate based on our previous experience with the 2.0-litre engine.

The impression of being a jacked-up Mazda3 hatchback transcends beyond the CX-30’s design. This is no surprise as it retains the same underpinnings. Despite its heavier weight, the small SUV body hasn’t affected dynamics, with the CX-30 feeling just as planted.

Mazda’s engineers focused on retaining its sporting DNA, with a sharp turn-in and sharp, weighty steering. The agile handling is likely to plant a smile on your face; even around tighter bends, there’s minimal body roll and your progress is assisted by a torque vectoring system for enhanced stability.

It has a smooth ride, but the suspension can become fidgety at low speeds and over obstacles such as large potholes or speed bumps. While we could blame this on the torsion-beam rear suspension, the front suspension isn’t perfect either.

Ownership

As with the wider Mazda range, the CX-30 is covered by the brand’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with five years of capped-price servicing and roadside assistance.

Maintenance is required every 12 months or 10,000 kilometres, whichever occurs first. This is shorter than most of its rivals, which typically allow 15,000 kilometres between services.

For the first five services, Mazda’s capped-price program will set you back $1732 at an average of $346 per service.

2022 Mazda CX-30 G20 capped-price servicing
One year/10,000km $328
Two years/20,000km $374
Three years/30,000km $328
Four years/40,000km $374
Five years/50,000km $328

This is not as cheap as the Toyota Corolla Cross petrol ($1025) or Hyundai Kona ($1595 pre-paid), but it is less than the Kia Seltos ($1914).

VERDICT

As the most affordable option in the CX-30 line-up, the entry-level G20 Pure offers an impressive array of standard equipment and backs this up with excellent on-road dynamics for a small SUV. It’s no surprise our judges gave it the coveted COTY win in 2021.

If your budget can stretch a little more, consider the best-value model: the $1700-extra G20 Evolve, which gains 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, paddle shifters, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rear air vents and a fold-down centre armrest. Little wonder this is is the top-selling G20 variant.

It’s also worth looking at the G20e Evolve – not for its (very) mild-hybrid tech, but for keyless entry and a powered driver’s seat – or stepping up to the G25 Touring for more power, albeit at additional expense.

Or better yet, the Mazda 3 G25 Evolve SP hatch if you’re prepared to sacrifice the CX-30’s higher ride height and improved visibility. The larger CX-5 should also be shortlisted if you require more space.

The Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is also worth a look if you’re seeking a more efficient option.

2022 Mazda CX-30 G20 Pure specifications

Body 5-door, 5-seat small SUV
Drive front-wheel
Engine 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol
Transmission 6-speed torque converter automatic
Power 114kW @ 6000rpm
Torque 200Nm @ 4000rpm
Bore/Stroke 83.5 x 91.2mm
Compression ratio 13:01
0-100km/h 10.2s (claimed)
Fuel Consumption 6.5L/100km (combined); 7.1L/100km (tested)
Weight 1438kg
Power/Weight 83.8kW/t
Suspension MacPherson strut (front) / torsion beam (rear)
L/W/H 4395/1795/1540mm
Wheelbase 2655mm
Tracks 1565mm (front and rear)
Steering electrically assisted rack-and-pinion
Brakes ventilated discs (front) / solid discs (rear)
Tyres 215/65 R16
Wheels 16-inch alloy
Price (as tested) $31,185 + on-road costs

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