Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3
  • Just two engines available in the CX-30
  • Both are petrol, both use mild-hybrid tech 
  • e-Skyactiv X expected to take most sales

What engine options are there?

Two engines are available, both being 2.0-litre petrols with different power outputs. Both feature mild-hybrid technology to recover wasted energy and improve efficiency overall, which can also offer a small performance boost when required.

Either engine is available with a very sweet-shifting six-speed manual or a perfectly serviceable six-speed automatic. If you want four-wheel-drive, you'll need to pick the Skyactiv-X engine.

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
2.0-litre e-SkyActiv G manual 122hp, 213Nm
10.6secs
116mph
2.0-litre e-SkyActiv G auto 122hp, 213Nm 11.2secs
116mph
2.0-litre e-SkyActiv X manual 180hp, 240Nm
8.3secs
127mph
2.0-litre e-SkyActiv X auto 180hp, 240Nm 8.6-8.7secs
127mph
2.0-litre e-SkyActiv X manual AWD
180hp, 240Nm
8.8secs
127mph
2.0-litre e-SkyActiv X auto AWD
180hp, 240Nm 9.0secs
127mph

View full Mazda CX-30 specs

Back to back, the e-Skyactiv G feels noticeably weaker than the X. Getting up to speed on motorway slip roads, and overtaking, sounds strained and it's clear the engine's working hard to deliver the performance needed. In urban environments, it's adequate.

The e-Skyactiv X uses compression ignition technology, like a diesel, and claims to offer petrol-like performance with diesel-esque fuel efficiency. It's interesting, and goes against current trends.

Mazda has ploughed resources into alternatives to turbocharging petrol engines because it thinks that these are the way to go for greater real-world fuel economy, but that doesn't mean the Skyactiv-X is 'simple'. It uses a small supercharger, and is arguably even more complicated - and less familiar to most mechanics - than rival's engines.

Mazda is so confident in the advantages of the Skyactiv-X engine that it's not offering a diesel engine with the CX-30 for the UK market.

The results are mixed. Headline power is 180hp, and it feels a good chunk quicker than the e-Skyactiv G, but don't be fooled into thinking this is a snappy, rev-hungry engine.

It's grumbly on start up, with a slightly gruff sound that settles down once moving, and the long gearing specified for maximising fuel economy means it's slow to rev and feels quite lethargic. To get full power you also need to rev it out to around 6,000rpm, which may entertain enthusiastic drivers, but suspect won't be rewarding enough. For regular chores and commutes this could become tiresome.

Even when you settle down to a cruise, you need to keep the revs high enough, otherwise you'll start losing speed at 60mph in sixth gear on a slight incline. This is where the turbocharged engines can be more relaxing in everyday use.

Thankfully, the updated e-SkyActiv X engine has a much smoother power delivery than the older SkyActiv-X variant, and feels far less lumpy than before, thanks to additional electric assistance from the mild-hybrid system. Performance is more sprightly and it doesn't feel like it's wanting to stall so easily when setting off from stationary, so while it's still not perfect, it's certainly better.

Gearboxes

The six-speed manual has a quality feel, and very few people will have grumbles about it. Changes up and down are slick, and there's a nice mechanical feeling through your hands to let you know you've changed gears successfully.

Mazda CX30 engine

The automatic gearbox is good too. Especially so with the e-Skyactiv-X engine; it's keen to change down a gear if you press the accelerator to the floor. It also has a Sport mode that changes down gears more readily, and holds it in gear for longer when you're accelerating. Keen drivers will be pleased to find that in manual mode, it will rev all the way to the rev limiter without interference.

How does it handle?

  • Good handling is a Mazda hallmark, even on its SUVs
  • CX-30 feels well-controlled but still comfy 
  • An excellent all-round performer

2020 Mazda CX-30 rear cornering

Being good to drive is pretty much a staple of Mazda’s whole brand identity, so it’s no surprise the CX-30 is up there as one of the best small crossovers in this regard.

Body roll is more pronounced than the hatch it's based on, although it's something you'd notice if you drove it back to back with the 3, but in isolation it's up there with the best SUVs for sure.

2020 Mazda CX-30 front cornering

The steering is also another sweet spot. It's not the sharpest and is a little on the lighter side, but remains precise enough. In fact, it gives you the impression that the CX-30 is almost like driving a normal hatchback. Mazda's G-Vectoring technology uses the brakes to help maintain grip and cornering speeds if you're in the mood for a bit of fun on a country road, too.

The brake pedal feels heavy and it requires a good shove to get it to stop. This is because of the mild-hybrid system that draws in energy from the brakes to put back into a 24v battery.