2020 Mazda CX-30 G25 Astina review (video)

Slotting snugly in between the CX-3 and the 3 is the all-new Mazda CX-30. Think of it as like a crossover version of the 3, only with more rear seat and boot space, and better outward visibility. Actually, we’re starting to think this is what the latest Mazda3 should have been like all along.

Since the Mazda3 has changed lanes to try and catch the premium and semi-premium competitors in the small car field, and in doing so lost some of its practicality and everyday flexibility, the CX-30 comes in at a perfect time. Especially as more and more buyers are moving into crossovers and SUVs.

The CX-30 range is massive. So big that it can be quite daunting. But don’t worry, this just means there’s enough variety to suit a wide range of buyers’ needs. Basically you have the G20 (2.0L) and G25 (2.5L) engines, both petrol, and then front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, with trim levels spanning from Pure, Evolve, Touring, to the top Astina.

This is the Astina with the G25 engine, and in FWD configuration. Prices for it start from $41,490, which is pretty steep for this class, but you can get into the entry G20 Pure FWD from $29,990 (excluding on-road costs).

2020 Mazda CX-30 G25 Astina – THE SPECS

Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder
Output: 139kW@6000rpm / 252Nm@4000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed auto
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 18×7.0, 215/55
ANCAP: Five stars
Tare weight: 1390kg
Power-to-weight: 10:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 6.6L/100km
Economy during test: 8.8L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 51L/91 RON

Power efficiency: 21.06kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 4.24 seconds*
0-100km/h: 8.80 seconds*
60-110km/h: 6.03 seconds*
1/4 mile: 16.43 seconds at 143.4km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.730g
100-0km/h braking: 3.01 seconds at 39.36 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.262g
Decibel at idle: 44*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 80*
Priced from: $41,490

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* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2020 Mazda CX-30 G25 Astina – THE PACKAGE

As usual, Mazda has put together another brilliant interior package. You’d be forgiven for thinking this is a premium car. It’s that classy in here. In top spec Astina form there’s a suave concoction of off white and brown leather and leatherette, which extends over parts of the door trims, dash and centre console. And then little splashes of subtle metallic highlights are used to line the control knobs and some of the buttons.

All models feature an elegantly integrated 8.8-inch media screen which is controlled by what we think is the best controller system in the class; a perfectly-positioned hand dial on the centre console, complete with jump-to menu buttons around it. It is just so intuitive to use, and helps to reduce distraction while driving as you’re soon merely glancing over at the screen to make selections.

The unit comes with in-built sat-nav, digital radio, and supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, across the board. It’s all standard. Going for the Astina adds a surround-view parking camera system. All models also come with a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster, and there are some configurable displays.

With so much already standard on the base model is it worth stepping up to the Astina? Well, aside from the white leather trim (black is also available), the Astina comes with front cross-traffic alert, 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, and the media system is connected up to a 12-speaker Bose sound system. The G25 version of the Astina also adds an electric sunroof.

Rear seat accommodation is impressive for this class. We like that there is a decent level of visibility in the back too – something that can’t be said of the latest Mazda3. Mazda has also done the decent thing and equipped the rear cabin with climate vents, twin cup holders on the flip-down centre arm rest, and bottle holders in the doors. Headroom is good, and the relatively flat floor helps to increase the sense of space around the foot well.

Boot space is measured at 422 litres regardless of two- or all-wheel drive in the Astina. Other variants offer 430L, but we can’t find why. All models come with a space-saver steel spare wheel under the boot floor.

2020 Mazda CX-30 G25 Astina – THE DRIVE

Mazda’s refusal to opt for more gears is starting to backfire now in our opinion. It’s been able to get away with it over the past few years, but if you’ve just stepped out of one of the main competitors this six-speed auto seems obviously aged. The ratios are long and that tends to cause engine droning with slow-building acceleration. Outright speed and performance isn’t likely to be that important in this class, but we feel a sense of enthusiasm and fun (even if slow) can go a long way in creating a more enjoyable drive. With this transmission, the presence and potential of this character is very weak.

Not helping is Mazda’s persistence to stick with natural aspiration. It is now quite unique for a manufacturer not to include turbocharging. And for good reason. They usually provide an instant improvement in economy, heat efficiency, noise suppression, and of course power and torque. The good thing about naturally aspirated engines is that they tend not to be as sensitive to fuel quality (this can run on 91 octane), air density and altitude. And of course there are fewer moving parts so in theory fewer things can go wrong.

For us, this engine and transmission brings down the CX-30’s otherwise great driving dynamics and feel-good character. It turns really nicely and offers plenty of grip, even in front-wheel drive configuration. The steering feedback is superb, with just enough weight at the wheel to make you feel connected when driving out in the country or on a spirited road, but then it’s light and predictable during tighter situations such as in the city and parking.

Ride comfort is excellent, partly thanks to the tallish-profile 215/55 tyres, but mainly thanks to the absorbent yet confidently controlled suspension setup. And despite featuring a fairly old-school torsion beam rear end, like the new Mazda3, sheer handling capability is near the top of the class.

With 175mm of ground clearance, this isn’t exactly an off-roader, although, it will venture onto a dirt road with no problem. On the contrary, by remaining low (for an SUV) the centre of gravity is low, which benefits handling as well.

In terms of economy, the official average is 6.6L/100km. During our week-long test we averaged a somewhat disappointing 8.8L/100km. And we can honestly say we weren’t driving it with a lead foot. We think this is another area where Mazda needs to improve, especially against some of the more modern competitors which are using advanced technologies, more gear ratios, and forced induction.

2020 Mazda CX-30 G25 Astina – THE VIDEO

2020 Mazda CX-30 G25 Astina – THE VERDICT

The CX-30 is ideal for those wanting a CX-3 but aren’t happy with the rear seat space or boot volume. Being an ‘SUV’ immediately makes it more trendy than the Mazda3 as well. In other words, there is plenty to like about this new model.

For us, the premium quality and design really pushes the envelop for this class. The on-board media system tops anything you’ll see in this price range, and the driving character will appeal to a wide range of drivers. However, this 2.5L engine and six-speed auto is now past its used-by date. If these were swapped for a nice little turbo unit with an eight-speed auto, it’d easily be the best vehicle in the class.

PROS:
– Beautifully designed interior, really suave and classy
– Easy to drive and park
– Top notch build quality
– Best-in-class media interface
– Practical, with good rear seat room and boot space

CONS:
– Mazda needs to move on from the old six-speed auto
– Engine is harsh and noisy compared with some rivals
– Real-world fuel consumption isn’t great (officially 6.6L/100km)

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

Brett is the editor and founder of Performance Drive. He's obsessed with driving, having played with Matchbox cars until he was tall enough to drive a real one. After initially working as a mechanic, Brett earned a degree in journalism and entered media as an editorial assistant at Top Gear Australia magazine. He then worked at CarAdvice.com.au. His dream is to live next door to the Nurburgring in Germany.