Mazda CX-30 SP25 review: compact contentment

Damien O’Carroll
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  • Excellent driving dynamics
  • Quality interior and fantastic seats
  • Impressively comfortable, particularly for a small SUV
  • Price is getting up there now
  • Thirstier than your usual small SUV
  • No wireless phone charging makes wireless phone projection useless

The CX-30 originally launched in 2019, which was the boom years for the whole “hatchback with a slightly higher ride height and some black wheel arches to pretend it is an SUV” genre, specifically tailored for people who want an SUV, but don’t really want an SUV.

Based on the 4th-generation Mazda3, the CX-30 veered far more dramatically towards the hatchback end of the spectrum than most, but the advantage of that was it managed to offer the same engaging driving dynamics as the rather excellent Mazda3, while the black arches and higher seating position still managed to hold up the illusion of it being an SUV for the city.

While the segment has largely moved on from that, with most entrants in the small SUV segment these days at least boasting chunkier, more SUV-esque proportions in a scaled-down form, the Mazda CX-30 persists and is arguably all the better for it.

Seriously: just tell yourself it is a Mazda3 that is easier to get in and out of and is easier to fix if you clip the letterbox with a guard coming into your driveway too hot.

Following a minor refresh, Mazda NZ has also refreshed its local range a bit, now featuring two FWD models (GSX and SP25) and two AWD models (Limited and Takami).

Now, while that cheeky SP in the range there may fill you with delusions of performance, let me pop that particular balloon of hope right now; while SP has traditionally signaled warmed up Mazdas, short of the full-fat MPS models, but offering more go than standard models, that is not the case with the SP25.

While the SP25 does have more grunt than its SP20 predecessor, that is not saying much, as the SP20 packed a 114kW/200Nm mild hybrid four-cylinder petrol engine that really should have twigged you off that SP didn’t mean fun anymore.

The SP25 packs Mazda’s 2.5-litre Skyactiv-G four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 139kW and 252Nm, which is good enough to make it the most powerful MX-30 - and the fastest, as the AWD Limited that uses the same engine weighs around 90kg more - but it certainly doesn’t turn it into a hot hatch.

While the outputs of the SP25 may not blow your wig off, the drivetrain is a delightfully smooth and torquey performer.

What it is, however, is a comfortable and extremely competent small car that exudes a wonderful sense of quality throughout. It also offers up excellent driving dynamics combined with a comfortable ride, something a lot of small SUVs can only manage one of, further highlighting how Mazda’s approach with the CX-30 has paid off for the driver.

While the outputs of the SP25 may not blow your wig off, the drivetrain is a delightfully smooth and torquey performer, something particularly showcased in urban driving, where it effortlessly rides its healthy wave of torque thanks to the excellent six-speed automatic transmission.

Getting the SP25 out onto the open roads is something that you will find yourself wanting to do, as those engaging dynamics and impressive ride comfort truly sparkle out there.

The SP25 is essentially the mid-spec offering in Mazda’s local CX-30 line up and, as such, gets manually adjustable seats with cloth upholstery. They are, however, extremely comfortable and, I would argue, nicer than the leather offerings in higher spec models.

The SP25 gets truly excellent wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration that works seamlessly, but oddly, isn’t paired with the wireless charging system in the AWD cars, meaning that using Android Auto wirelessly brutally drains your battery to the point where you will probably need to plug it in anyway…

Another slight niggle inside the SP25 is its dated infotainment system that is, and has always been, somewhat unintuitive and awkward .

Mazda claims an average 3P-WLTP fuel consumption of 7.3l/100km for the SP25 , which is about right, but a higher percentage of urban driving and no longer distances will see that creep perilously close to double digits.

However, getting the SP25 out onto the open roads is something that you will find yourself wanting to do anyway, as those engaging dynamics and impressive ride comfort truly sparkle out there.

ENGINE: 2.5-litre petrol four-cylinder POWER: 139kW/252Nm GEARBOX: 6-speed automatic, AWD CONSUMPTION: 7.3l/100km, CO2 171g/km (3P-WLTP) PRICE: $45,990

What are the key statistics for the Mazda CX-30 SP25?

The SP25 uses the same 139kW/252Nm SkyActiv-G 2.5-litre petrol four-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission as the AWD CX-30 Limited model. The SP25 drops the AWD system to go front-wheel drive, and with it around 90kg in weight, making it slightly more fuel efficient than the Limited.

Is the Mazda CX-30 SP25 efficient?

Mazda's claim of 7.3l/100km for the SP25 is easy to achieve, but not exactly startlingly good for a small SUV. The 2.5-litre engine is the most powerful one available in the CX-30 line up, however, and it is also the only one to feature cylinder deactivation, so the more open road running you do, the more economical it will get.

Is the Mazda CX-30 SP25 good to drive?

Yes it is. If there is one thing Mazda is consistently excellent at, it is nailing driving dynamics, and the SP25 is a shining example of that. Lithe and agile, it makes the most of the engine's flexibility and is a joy to chuck through the corners, while also maintaining a complaint nature and a very comfortable ride.

Is the Mazda CX-30 SP25 practical?

While rear seat legroom is a little on the tight side, the CX-30 is overall an excellent compromise between the compact size of a small hatch and the roominess of a small SUV. At 317 litres, the boot is more hatch than SUV, but the cabin features plenty of storage cubbies and is easy to get in and out of.

What do we like about the Mazda CX-30 SP25?

The driving dynamics and ride quality are an absolute highlight, with some excellently comfortable and supportive seats adding to the dynamic enjoyment it offers. The SP25 also boasts an attractive cabin that is beautifully put together from high quality materials, befitting its price tag. 

What don’t we like about the Mazda CX-30 SP25?

That aforementioned price tag is a bit on the steep side, particularly in the face of the deeply impressive quality of the emerging Chinese competition that the Mazda will face. The baffling decision to include wireless phone projection without wireless charging renders the former largely pointless.

What kind of person would the Mazda CX-30 SP25 suit?

Someone who wants a small urban SUV, but doesn't want to give up on sharp handling and excellent dynamics.


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