2023 Mazda CX-30 GT Review: No Turbo, No Problem

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee

Love It

Leave It

Style inside and out

Rear passenger space

Responsive engine

Small side windows

Well equipped

Rear door materials

The Mazda CX-30 was the start of the brand's CX-labelled SUV onslaught.

It began a new era of higher-grade products, tasked with transitioning the manufacturer upmarket. Slotting between the CX-3 and CX-5 at the time, the CX-30 was more stylish, posher inside, and had increased performance.

Now entering its fourth model year of existence, Mazda has been tweaking the small SUV every year to keep it relevant and competitive. Last year the entry-level engine saw a small increase in power and fuel economy. This year, there’s an optional 10.25-inch infotainment screen with enhanced technology.

To sample the changes for ourselves, we grabbed a fully-loaded, naturally aspirated CX-30 for a week's evaluation.

2024 Mazda CX-30 2.5 S Premium Review – Sort Of

Our tester is a Canadian-spec 2024 Mazda CX-30, called the GT. With standard all-wheel drive and most features included, it’s equivalent to the American 2024 Mazda CX-30 2.5 S Premium. But there are a few aesthetic differences.

The Canadian GT can be had in Ceramic Metallic exterior paint, which is a GT-exclusive color. In the United States, that color option is exclusively tied to the lower grade 2.5 S Select Sport. Similarly, the Garnet Red Leather upholstery in our Canadian GT tester can only be had in the American 2.5 S Carbon Edition. Other than these differing color combinations, the GT and 2.5 S Premium are virtually the same.

In the United States, the CX-30 starts at price of $26,360 (all prices include destination charges). As tested, a 2.5 S Premium with upgraded paint rings in a $33,815. For Canadian consumers, the starting price of the 2024 CX-30 is $30,245. As equipped, our CX-30 GT tester comes in at $40,195.

Still Has Style

By this point, the CX-30’s exterior is quite familiar, as similar styling adorns the larger CX-50 as well. It’s still a very pleasant design, but maybe not as head turning as it was when it first burst onto the market in 2019.

As described above, our tester arrived in Ceramic Metallic exterior paint. With this color choice, there is an option of the Garnet Red Leather upgrade. More than just adding red seats and red interior stitching, it also includes exterior mirrors in Jet Black Mica and 18-inch alloy wheels with a black finish.

At 173.0-inches (4,395 mm) in length, the 2024 Mazda CX-30 is around the same length as its main rivals. The 61.7-inches (1,568 mm) height though is much lower than a few of those competitors. Park it next to a Subaru Crosstrek or a Kia Seltos, and the lower roofline of the Mazda is noticeable right away.

Does One Need a Turbo?

Under the hood of our tester is the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. In the CX-30, it now makes 191 horsepower and 186 pound feet of torque. That’s quite a few ponies shy of the optional turbocharged engine choice, but still right on the mark when looking at competitors like the Subaru Crosstrek, Kia Seltos, and Volkswagen Taos.

The only transmission available is a six-speed automatic that sends power to all four wheels via Mazda’s i-ACTIV all-wheel drive system. This drivetrain combination is quite responsive from a stop and while cruising around the city. At slower speeds, we don’t notice a massive difference between this and its turbocharged sibling - which we've find a bit slow to build power compared similar power units on the market.

On the highway though, the power difference between the two engines is definitely noticed. The 2.5-liter turbocharged engine accelerates the CX-30 with much less effort than the naturally aspirated unit in our test vehicle.

This non-turbo engine is also better on fuel. It’s officially rated to deliver 26 mpg (9.0 L/100 km) city and 33 mpg (7.1 L/100 km) highway. During out week with the vehicle, we were averaging closer to the city figures, but it was the middle of winter, and the CX-30 is wearing winter tires.

It’s a Lively One

Mazda’s have a long history and reputation of being engaging to drive, and this is still felt in the CX-30. The thin steering wheel feels very familiar to the one in the Mazda MX-5. Despite having rather narrow 215/55R18 winter tires, the SUV’s handling is still well above average for the class. Maybe there’s not as large of a fun-to-drive gap compared to competitors as there once was, but it still exists.

Those more interested in how the CX-30 performs traditional SUV duties will be happy to know the enhanced driving dynamics to not come at the expense of ride quality. The suspension can smooth out many a road imperfection, providing decent ride comfort in return. If more gnarly one-lane dirt roads need to be navigated, the CX-30 offers 8.0-inches (203 mm) of ground clearance.

Familiar, Premium Interior

The optional Garnet Red Leather interior doesn’t just add red seats, it also adds contrasting red stitching throughout the interior. We really like the interior look and feel of the CX-30, minus the rear doors abundant use of hard plastics. The new super-wide angle infotainment screen protrudes form the dashboard and has a distinct BMW look to it, a fact further reinforced with Mazda’s dial and button controls on the center console.

The CX-30 2.5. S Premium (GT) includes a lot of premium equipment for the class and price. There’s a head-up display, 360-degree view camera, power lift gate, front wiper de-icer, frameless rear-view mirror, Bose 12-speaker sound system, off-road navigation, two fast charging USB ports, light up door sills, wet wipers, paddle shifters, adaptive front lighting, and more.

All the expected safety equipment is here as well, highlighted by smart brake, front and rear parking sensors, traffic jam assist, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, etc.

The big technology additions to the CX-30 this year are wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Combined with the wireless phone charging pad, that works flawlessly in this vehicle, it’s a big convenience for those that regularly use these smart phone integrations. While on the topic of convenience, we also appreciate that the climate control is full of actual, physical buttons.

Issues with Space

The one area the Mazda CX-30 trails the competition is interior room. Sit in a Toyota Corolla Cross or Honda HR-V back-to-back with the CX-30, and the lack of space in the Mazda is obvious.

Although the CX-30 has decent space for front passengers, it’s snug for those sitting in the rear. Headroom is officially rated at 37.8-inches (960 mm) up front and 38.3-inches (973 mm) for the rear. Legroom is generous for front occupants, with 41.7-inches (1,059 mm) available. Those in the back seat only get 36.3-inches (922 mm).

These numbers aren’t terrible, but the vehicle feels more confined than it is. The high cowl, high belt line, and low roof all contribute to rather narrow side windows, reducing the amount of natural light. Sight lines are still acceptable though and the rear window size is quite generous.

The Verdict: 2023 Mazda CX-30 GT Review

The CX-30 continues to be a premium small SUV with more of a mainstream price listing. While Mazda continues the brand’s ambitious move upmarket, products like this are key in changing consumer’s mindsets. Although it’s not quite on the same level to compete with vehicles like the BMW X1 or Mercedes GLA, it can be thought of as a more affordable alternative.

The CX-30 is not without its faults though, and families looking for a primary vehicle might want to look elsewhere. But not everyone is need of interior space. For those seeking a well-appointed, stylish, small SUV that’s not a chore to drive, the CX-30 is worth a look.

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2023 Mazda CX-30 GT


8 / 10


8 / 10

Handling and Drivability

9 / 10

Passenger Comfort

6 / 10

Ride Quality

3 / 5

Exterior Style

5 / 5

Interior Style and Quality

9 / 10


7 / 10

Cargo Capacity and Towing

3 / 5


5 / 5


8 / 10

Emotional Appeal

8 / 10


79 / 100

Fast Facts


2.5-liter four-cylinder


191 hp, 186 lb-ft





Fuel Economy (mpg):

26 city and 33 highway

Fuel Economy (L/100 km):

9.0 city, 7.1 highway

Starting Price (USD):


As Tested (USD):


Starting Price (CAD):


As Tested (CAD):


Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

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