Mazda must be doing something right, because among a plethora of small sports utility vehicles its CX-30 carried off the title as Car of the Year 2021 from a prestigious Australian motoring magazine.

As if COTY were not enough, the whole CX-30 range walked away with the 2021 RACV crown for the safest SUV under $35,000.

Wheels magazine’s editor had no hesitation in bestowing the honour on the new SUV, its editor saying: “The CX-30 is such a delightful car and performed strongly against all our criteria . . . The CX-30 is a car you would always look forward to driving.”

Designed by Mazda to slot into a spot in size between the CX-3 and CX-5 – in Pure, Evolve, Touring and Astina spec – the CX-30 offers either a Skyactiv-G 2.0-litre, or Skyactiv 2.5-litre petrol engine, mated with a six-speed Skyactiv automatic transmission, plus front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

The entry-level CX-30 G20 FWD comes on to the market at $29,990, plus on-road costs, while the G25 Astina all-wheel drive tops off the range at $43,490.

A stint in an Evolve G20 spec, anchored mid-stream in the G20 flow at $31,490, was backed to give as true an impression as any of the CX-30.

Like all new Mazda vehicles, the CX-30 comes with a five-year / unlimited kilometre warranty, as well as five years of roadside assist. Service intervals are every 10,000 km or 12 months, whichever comes first.

Consider the CX-30 a Mazda 3 hatchback on tiptoes – say 100 mm taller, 25 more ground clearance and more cargo carrying capacity, in this case 317 litres, with volume extended to 430 litres with the 60:40 rear seatbacks folded.

Up front, cat-like headlamps flank a recognisable Mazda radiator shape with black grille. Uncluttered lines on the flanks add bulk to the profile, which is only spoilt somewhat by black plastic side skirts and wheel arch borders surrounding solid enough 18-inch wheels.

Out the back there are wraparound tail-lights, a restrained roof spoiler, twin exhaust pipes and more black plastic in the bumper.

The quality of the cabin has taken the small car to a new level. The driver benefits from a high seating position and auto dimming rear-view mirror. The leather-clad steering wheel offers a comfortable grip, plus paddle shifts and the air vents are angled to the driver, servicing the dual zone air-conditioning.

Versatile storage includes a good-sized centre console, and a space below the fascia thanks to the uptake of an electric parking brake, plus big door bins.

In the back, Mazda claims 29 mm more rear head room, 80 mm more shoulder room, and 33 mm more leg room than the CX-3.

Every variant of the CX-30 boasts an 8.8-inch centre screen with sharp resolution and a control system using a rotary dial and accompanying buttons, situated on the centre console.

The system engages Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus built-in satellite navigation, Bluetooth pairing and digital radio. are handled by an 8.8-inch screen.

A 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine, putting out 114 kW at 6000 rpm and 200 Nm at 4000 revs, is matched with a six-speed automatic and is quite happy to run on the cheaper 91 RON petrol.

In the CX-30’s 2021 RACV crown for the safest SUV under $35,000, the car club says it is packed with an impressive list of advanced safety features across the board. These include autonomous emergency braking (forward and reverse), lane keep assist, lane departure warning and an advanced speed assist system.

It also achieved one of the highest ANCAP crash scores to date, achieving 99 per cent in adult occupant protection. Seven airbags include a driver’s knee bag and IsoFix anchorage on outboard rear seats.

A 360-degree camera with a surround-view monitor, front parking sensors and cross-traffic alert are available for $1500 in a Vision Technology Pack.

The 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine misses the fizz of a turbocharger at low revs but the six-speed automatic handled test-car town work well and had the SUV country cruising with confidence.

For example, on a 200-kilometre holiday round trip with three adults and a full load of gear in the back, the CX-30 average fuel consumption over a range of driving conditions of 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres.

Alternatively, on day-to-day running, with the aid of stop / start engine control, the test vehicle recorded 6.8 litres in the suburbs and 5.4 on the motorway.

Much of the easy-going nature of the drive could be put down to Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control Plus, which handles stability through brake and engine control to help the car respond to sudden steering inputs.

Likewise, maneuvering in tight spaces, often found fraught with SUVs, is smoothed out by improved dampening of noise, vibration and harshness from road surfaces and other exterior noise, courtesy of new-generation Skyactiv Vehicle Architecture.

In addition, the CX-30 suspension system is quick to pick up road conditions and let the driver enjoy connected handling.

Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert help overcome limited visibility behind, while a colour head-up display projecting speed limits and navigation details onto the windscreen in front of the driver is a welcome standard inclusion.

In hindsight, it could it be fair to say the CX-3 and CX-5 could have been mere Mazda practice products for the CX-30, winner of ‘best of’ awards around the world. With the addition of the RACV safety plaudits, it’s hard to argue with the general feeling of excellence.

Mazda CX-30 G20 Pure FWD $29,990
Mazda CX-30 G20 Pure FWD (vision technology) $31,490
Mazda CX-30 G20 Evolve FWD $31,490
Mazda CX-30 G20 Evolve FWD (vision technology) $32,990
Mazda CX-30 G20 Touring FWD $34,990
Mazda CX-30 G20 Touring FWD (vision technology) $36,290
Mazda’s vision technology is offered as cost option ($1500) across the range.
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mazda dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Mazda CX-30 G20 Evolve 2.0 L 4-cylinder petrol, 6sp automatic, FWD)

Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 114 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 200 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.5 L/100km
CO2 emissions 188 g / km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed Skyactiv automatic, front-wheel drive

Length: 4395 mm
Wheelbase: 2655 mm
Width: 1540 mm
Height: 1445 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Tare Mass: 1360 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 51 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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