Tested: 2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo

More power is always a good thing.

The Mazda CX-30 was already a likeable little sub-compact crossover. For 2021, Mazda put some meat on those fine bones, making its’ excellent 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder available. Paired with a high-tech all-wheel drive system, this is a winning combination.

The CX-30 Turbo becomes the top of the range. It has a full slate of features, and a premium interior to enhance what was already the best-handling vehicle in the class.


2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo AWD (Photo: Garry Sowerby)



Like all Mazdas, what separates the 2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo from the pack is the driving dynamics.

Accentuated by the more powerful engine, a myriad of small touches make this a vehicle that will have driving enthusiasts taking the long way home, or finding an excuse for a milk run that includes a twisty section of road.

The feel and feedback through the steering is sublime, the reaction to steering and throttle inputs immediate and linear. The brakes are progressive with good feel. The engine is responsive with plenty of right-now power. Passing is a breeze.

If you opt for 93 octane fuel you’ll have 250 horses at  your beck and call. Save a few $ and go for regular and the count drops to 227. Significantly, torque falls off only 10 lb. ft. to a very powerful 310. Save your money and use regular, you will never notice the difference!

The normally-aspirated engine in the CX-30 produces a class competitive 185 horsepower. The CX-30 Turbo’s engine boosts that by 30% resulting in performance matched only by moving up into much more expensive sub-compact crossovers from European luxury car manufacturers.


2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo AWD (Photo: Lisa Calvi)



Enthusiasts will appreciate and enjoy the extra power and exceptional driving dynamics of the refined 2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo

For the remaining 98% of the driving population, this is simply a very refined little crossover. It has a lengthy list of standard equipment, an excellent reputation for quality and reliability and styling that stands out amidst a boxy crowd.


2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo AWD (Photo: Garry Sowerby)


The suspension team did an excellent job of meeting the tough task of a balance between ride quality and handling prowess.

The ride is all-day comfortable and supple over most surfaces but there is no sense of a high centre of gravity. It does not go all squishy and fall over itself when pressed into an off ramp or turn. The artfully-tuned all-wheel-drive system means it can remain fun to drive year-round.


2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo AWD (Photo: Garry Sowerby)



While the engineering puts the CX-30 at or near the front of the pack, the interior design team didn’t exactly take the day off.

They managed to make a small vehicle feel larger, for front seat occupants. Rear seat space is tighter as can be expected from the overall size. The choice of materials, and manner in which they are applied, is a class above. The tester had a combination of brown and black materials, a pleasant departure from the usual monotone treatment found elsewhere.


2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo AWD (Photo: Lisa Calvi)


The controls, both major and minor are where you instinctively feel or reach for them and operate with a precision expected of a much more expensive automobile.  The instrument panel is narrow and wide with controls and the infotainment screen up high.

The 12-speaker Bose audio system provides crisp highs and beefy lows. A full colour heads-up display makes critical information, including traffic sign recognition, available without having to take your eyes far from the task at hand. The non-touchscreen, dial-controlled infotainment system, with a rotary knob on the console and small buttons is dated compared to the competition.

The front seats are worthy of praise for placing your spine in a natural position and providing support in all the right places. You emerge after long session at the wheel without the usual need to stretch out the kinks.

The market is full of competent small crossovers. The 2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo stands out for its dual personality. It is happy and able to conduct all the usual chores like school and grocery runs. But just as capable of providing a rewarding run through back-country roads.


2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo AWD (Photo: Garry Sowerby)



FACTS & FIGURES – 2021 Mazda CX-30 GT Turbo AWD



Base: $36,450

As tested: $38,400 including freight



Pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, Forward Obstruction Warning, Smart City Brake Support, Smart Brake Support front and rear, Smart Brake Support Rear-Crossing, rear parking sensors



12-speaker Bose Audio system, Mazda Connect with 20-cm display, HMI commander, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto



18-inch black alloy wheels, push button start, power moonroof, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, leather-trimmed upholstery, 10-way power driver seat (includes power lumbar support), driver’s seat memory (2 memory settings), automatic on/off LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, navigation system, automatic climate control, keyless entry, power liftgate, Automatic cruise control with Stop & Go, colour windshield-projected Active Driving Display



Polymetal grey metallic paint, $200



Turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder, 250-horsepower, 320 lb.-ft. of torque, premium fuel; 227-horsepower and 310 lb. ft. on regular fuel, six-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 10.5/7.9



Length, 4,395 mm; width, wheelbase, 2,652 mm; weight, 1,592 kg



Chevrolet Trax, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos, Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota C-HR.

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