AboutThatCar.com 2020 Mazda CX-30

Frank S. Washington | 1/13/2020, 5:18 p.m.
The short story is as the automobile market continues to shift towards crossovers and sport utilities, Mazda created the CX-30 ...
2020 Mazda CX-30

The interior was a combination openness and intimacy. The 2020 Mazda CX-30 did not feel like a small vehicle. There was plenty of space, the seats forced you into better posture, or to sit up straighter, and though that seemed uncomfortable the vehicle was just the opposite. Mazda said that the “rich brown leather” lent an air of quality and depth even in the base models

Instruments were driver focused. Just about everything was tilted toward the operator of the CX-30. The dash was expansive and seemed to curve right into the doors. And the surfaces were very soft to the touch. The interior was meant to convey speed and spaciousness. It certainly was spacious but speed, that depends on how fast we’re talking.

Engineers rethought how a vehicle works; the seating position was meant to mimic upright postures; the gas pedal was designed to let the calf muscle do most of the work rather than the shin muscle. Even the ride motion was engineered to match the human motion of walking by softening the side walls on the tires. They simplified the suspension movement. The result was a smooth riding vehicle.

We drove prototype CX-30s. They all had an all-wheel-drive system that could deploy 100 percent of its torque to the front wheels and up to 50 percent of the torque to the back wheels when needed. The system enhanced cornering and performance. It would shift torque to rear wheels at speeds of 75 mph for improved handling.

Premium trim lines come with heads-up displays and cylinder deactivation as well. And an interesting factoid is that the CX-30 is expected to hold up to 60 percent of its residual value after three years.

Noise, vibration and harshness had been reduced. While on the road we found the CX-30 to be extremely quiet. There was not much wind or road noise. The audio system had been restyled to direct sound directly to your ears with fewer impediments.

There was no CD player nor was there a touch screen. The CX-30 can use small thumb drives. Mazda’s theory is touchscreens take drivers’ eyes off the road, they represent cognitive, visual and manual distractions. “You have to look at it, reach for it and touch it to use it,” we were told. That’s why their vehicles don’t have touchscreens.

Mazda researchers found that it takes about three weeks for owners to learn to operate the controls by feel. The center console armrest slides back then opens. We were a little disappointed there was only one USB jack. The CX-30 also had its own Wi-Fi hot spot. It is free for the first six months and $20 dollars a month thereafter.

As we said the seating positions made us feel like we were sitting straight up. We thought that we would end up being uncomfortable but that wasn’t the case. By the end of the drive which covered about 150 miles through the mountains we were almost as fresh as when we started.

The touch surfaces were soft, more so than we’ve noticed in other vehicles. Handling was good, certainly there was nothing truck like about the CX-30. And the brakes were outstanding, a couple of times we had to really get on them and were quite satisfied with the results.

Because the infotainment screen was not a touch screen it could be placed in the middle of the dash and sunk. An angled depression let us see the bottom. It was a very clean look. Sound proofing was excellent. Once a motorcycle was passing us and we could not hear it until it pulled up alongside of us as it passed.

Mazda is known for quality vehicles, slick designs and the reputation of selling everything it makes. We expect the 2020 CX-30 to continue that tradition.

Prices start at $21,900 for the front-wheel drive CX-30 and top out at $29,600 for the CX-30 premium with all-wheel drive. They do not include the $1,045 freight charge.

Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com