2022 Mazda CX-30 Turbo Review - The Crossover for Drivers
2022 Mazda CX-30 Turbo Premium Plus AWD
Yeah, I know. That title is clickbait. Especially as we’ve told you time and again that there are no self-driving cars, and there likely will not be any self-driving cars for quite some time. Every vehicle on our roads today needs a driver.
But not all of them want to be driven.
Many a car merely trudges along, asking little of the occupant of the leftmost seat other than to turn a wheel or press some pedals. Little, then, is returned - no enjoyment, simply motion. I’ve spent far too many miles behind the wheel of cars that make me want to get out from behind the wheel and forget about driving for a while. Perhaps that’s why the autonomous dream appeals to so many - they’ve never experienced satisfaction, or even fun, whilst operating a motorcar.
Maybe I’ve fallen for the marketing a bit too much, but Mazda does seem to infuse the spirit of their iconic Miata into the driving dynamics of just about everything they build. This 2022 Mazda CX-30 Turbo, for example, can certainly handle the drudgery of the daily commute with aplomb but can make a detour on a twisty two-lane a bit more enjoyable.
Yes, functionally this is the same basic beast as the Mazda 3 hatch - but with a 2.5-inch lift kit fitted. That’s a good thing, as the 3 is a well-rounded compact that is quite pleasant to drive. I was a bit surprised at the quoted 8.0-inch ground clearance listed for the CX-30 - it’s not a tall vehicle, nor does it have any off-road pretense save for an off-road mode for the i-Activ AWD system. This is a crossover for tarmac, gravel, and snow - that extra ground clearance will be welcome should you need to venture onto an unplowed snow-covered cul-de-sac in mid-February, where a lower-slung car might start acting like a snowplow.
Much has been made of the dual ratings for engine performance on Mazda’s 2.5-liter turbo four seen here. I’ve made the non-executive decision to list the lower horsepower rating of 227 horsepower in the FastFacts data panel above as I have no earthly idea if the CX-30 was filled with premium fuel upon delivery to me, so I can’t tell you if my drive impressions were influenced by original recipe gasoline or if extra-crispy premium fuel bumped the performance with the maximum 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of herbs and spices. Either way, this Mazda can comfortably scoot.
It rides beautifully, too, with well-controlled body motions and a minimum of harshness over potholes. The steering shines, direct and quick without being twitchy. Road noise is minimal - mostly mild tire noise once you get to highway speeds.
Interestingly, upon introduction in late 2019, the CX-30 was offered with front-wheel drive as well as optional all-wheel drive. No longer - every CX-30 has all four wheels driven. Pricing has accordingly driven forward with ample traction - a loaded model at that first drive stickered at just over $30K, where my tester walks into the F&I office with a Monroney around five thousand steeper. The newly-available turbocharged engine is certainly a big part of that change, while much of the rest can be adequately explained by reading a few newspaper headlines from the past few years.
Unchanged is the overall style of the CX-30. It remains quite handsome, with beautifully sculpted lines. I love how the light plays with the reflections on the door panels. This deep blue paint is a bit drab compared to, for example, Mazda’s signature Soul Red, but it’s still a damned fine-looking runabout.
The interior is a pleasant space, though I’d think twice about using the CX-30 to haul four linebackers across the country. Small families will be happy with the car, however - rear headroom is decent but not stellar should your rear seat meat cargo stretch beyond six feet tall. The leather and plastics found on this top-trim Premium Plus package are fitting with Mazda’s push into the entry-luxury market - plush, well-finished, and as good as you’ll find in the premium marques they’re targeting.
Nobody buys a crossover to go corner carving. But neither do they buy one to go off-roading each weekend. Mazda’s leaning hard on the sport/comfort side of the crossover ledger, rather than the “ooh there’s a sale at REI” side of the market. If you’re spending your weekends with Gore-Tex and a camp stove, there may be better choices - but if your weekends are more buttoned down, it’s hard to ignore the 2022 Mazda CX-30.
[Images: © 2022 Chris Tonn]
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