A safe bet in its category, the Mazda CX-30 remains among the most attractive cars on the market according to the team there. Car Guide. For the 2023 model year, it took third place in our ranking, behind only the Toyota Corolla Cross and Subaru Crosstrek. But what is the value in the middle of winter?
Because of time, we tested the car in the heart of the cold snap that hit Quebec. After a lot of snow, we had to face very low temperatures and very frozen roads. Difficult traffic conditions, but the best test bed to judge the capabilities of Mazda’s small SUV.
The base CX-30 starts under $30,000. At this price, the engine of choice is the naturally aspirated 2-liter 4-cylinder developing 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. For those who want to go upmarket, it is possible to choose another 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that offers more performance (186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft). Finally, the more exclusive CX-30s can be equipped with a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine that can produce up to 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft when running on premium gasoline.
All engines use a 6-speed gearbox. Abandoning front-wheel drive models, CX-30s now come with all-wheel drive as standard. In our case, we drove the top of the line model (GT turbo), which has a price tag of $41,060. To finance it over 60 months, figure $904 monthly (tax included). For a 48 month lease (20,000 km per year), you still have to spend $610 48 times.
Monthly rent or purchase payments have increased significantly in recent months, but less than other competitors. Mazda has finance and lease rates of 5.50% and 5.20% respectively. On the other hand, at the time of writing these lines, there are rates of 7.29 and 8.39% in Toyota for the Corolla Cross! A difference that is far from being ignored after several years…
Good shoes and good feet
Our test model, in addition to being well equipped, was also very well laid out. Equipped with Michelin X-Ice SNOW tires, the quality of which needs no further demonstration, our CX-30 has already started with a good ace up its sleeve. But good tires, while important for smooth winter driving, aren’t everything. The quality of the all-wheel drive also contributes to the safety of work during the winter season.
From this point of view, Mazda’s small SUV looked majestic during our test week. Despite the difficult weather conditions, the car overcame the difficulty without incident. Be it deep snow, ice or wind, nothing could shake the CX-30’s stability. We even tried to mislead it a few times by pressing the accelerator too lightly, or turning the steering wheel more aggressively, to no avail.
Our only downside to all-wheel drive is the impossibility of disabling driver assistance systems, especially traction control. In some cases, it may be necessary to cut this support, for example from a large snow bank.
As for road holding, we’re happy to find a car with a well-set suspension and whose precise steering allows the front axle to be steered properly. Not all small SUVs are fun to drive, and the Mazda CX-30 is certainly at the top of its class in that regard.
As for the engine, the 4-cylinder turbo has no problem moving such a small car. A light touch on the trigger lets you get into the fast lane without a hitch. Covers are also excellent. During our test, however, this power resulted in higher fuel consumption than advertised. While Natural Resources Canada advertises a combined average of 9.3 L/100 km, we noted 11.3 to 11.8 L/100 km depending on the outside temperature… which was very low during our test (down to -41° felt).
In all honesty, the turbo engine, while fun to drive, isn’t essential under the CX-30’s hood. The air barrier of 2.5 liters is already enough for daily use.
Some of the fury of winter
Our overall assessment is very positive about the CX-30 for winter use. However, we have identified a few annoyances that deserve to be highlighted. First, the narrowness of the headlights and the low chrome section are perfect places for snow to accumulate. Remember to clear this section regularly to be visible to other road users.
The shape of the tailgate makes the rear of the car dirty quickly. The rear window, which is already not very large, becomes opaque and you often have to operate the wiper. Speaking of which, don’t wait too long to fill up when the glass reserve warning light comes on in the dashboard, because that means it’s already almost empty.
On the other hand, if the snow is a stick, the round part of the rear light is quickly covered by it. So much so that when it came time to fill up after a hundred kilometers in the Laurentians, we were surprised to find that the tail lights were almost invisible.
Finally, the car experienced some problems with antifreeze management in very cold weather. When the temperature dropped below -20 °, we noticed that the wipers had a tendency to freeze and that the bottom of the windshield allowed ice to accumulate on the right and left sides. To fix this, we increase the ventilation and temperature in the passenger compartment… and it gets really hot!
High performance, efficiency – summer and winter – and driving pleasure, the CX-30 also requires compromise. First because of its small interior space. If the clearance remains correct in front, the rear seats are too small, either for the head or the legs. Same thing with the trunk volume, which is significantly less than that of the best players in the segment like Kia Seltos or Volkswagen Taos to name a few.
For couples this will not be a problem at all. But if you have children with large car seats to buckle up in the back, space can quickly run out.
From the driver’s point of view, the small glazed area at the back also reduces visibility. The reversing camera helps when driving, but it cannot perform miracles. Finally, we once again found the multimedia system too long to set up and less intuitive than the top players in the segment (Hyundai, Kia, Subaru and GM).
In conclusion, our opinion remains divided about the CX-30. Its driving dynamics are excellent despite the passage of time, it works well, it is stable – including in winter – but it also suffers from serious flaws.
If you’re willing to live with its limited interior space, poor rear visibility and mediocre multimedia system, you should like your experience inside the CX-30. Otherwise, you risk accepting his faults instead of appreciating his qualities.