2024 Mazda CX-30 GT

Some may argue the idea of a cute-ute is pointless, but others will point out the Mazda CX-30 is all about perception
Some may argue the idea of a cute-ute is pointless, but others will point out the Mazda CX-30 is all about perception

by Nathan Leipsig | June 3, 2024


I’m not typically a fan of “subcompact” SUVs or crossovers or whatever you want to call them. In my pedantic headspace, I fail to see the benefit of these cute-utes over a small hatchback. They’re kind of the worst of both worlds, compromising driving dynamics and efficiency without much, if any added practicality and cargo space over a comparable hatch. The 2024 Mazda CX-30 GT is probably the one that I struggle the most to wrap my head around, although that’s not strictly the CX-30’s fault.

The biggest problem with the Mazda CX-30 is the Mazda3. It’s a brilliant little car and one of my favourites on the market, at any price. The CX-30 takes that brilliant car, lifts it a couple inches, gives it big plastic fender liners, and calls it a day. Given that Mazda did so little to differentiate it from the 3, the CX-30 is also brilliant by association; regardless of my personal feelings about cute-utes, if you’re looking for one, the CX-30 needs to be on your shortlist because it’s lovely.

The other issue with the CX-30 is the presence of the CX-50, which makes a lot more sense to me. It has the added size and space I’d want from an SUV without being at all large or ungainly, and it’s visually differentiated with chunkier, more angular styling, also as I’d expect from an SUV. With the Mazda3 being better at being small, and the CX-50 better at being an SUV, all for roughly the same price, I couldn’t understand the CX-30 at all.

So I consulted a friend, who crucially isn’t a pedantic nerd. I brought her with me when I went to swap this CX-30 for a CX-50 we’ll be reviewing soon, and it was parked next to a 3 hatchback. Perfect! Now I have a clear visual example to explain my point, to highlight the logical fallacy of the CX-30. I thought I had a slam dunk, and she totally shot me down.

Good. That’s why I brought her along.

“Okay yeah, but the CX-50 is like a totally different vibe, like way more Soccer Mom … and the 3 is like, you know, a rinky-dink little car.”

I reminded her that the CX-30 is the same rinky-dink little car with stilts and shoulder pads.

“Yeah, but it looks more substantial without being too suburban, and that’s what I’d want. It’s all about perception. And it rides like a cloud.”

She’s right. The CX-30 does ride exceptionally well, and was considerably smoother than the CX-50 we picked up. It handled better, too, being smaller and lighter, and was quieter on the highway. This fairly loaded GT tester was equipped with pretty much everything Mazda offers, except for the optional turbocharged engine. This one had the same 2.5L normally aspirated four-cylinder that Mazda’s been using for years, good for 191 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, and frugal enough to return 8.9 L/100 km combined throughout my week with the CX-30.

The 2.5 is smooth, quiet, inoffensive if underwhelming, and it’s backed up by a similarly inoffensive six-speed automatic that Mazda has also been using for years, but I’d spend the extra $2,400 and get the turbo engine. It adds a much heightened sense of urgency and effortlessness to the CX-30, and feels much better suited to the aging six-speed’s gearing, not to mention the CX-30’s premium aspirations overall.

I say this because the CX-30 GT otherwise feels like a very premium product, borrowing the same sinuous dashboard design and quality touch points from the universally acclaimed 3 on which it’s based. Our tester came in Mazda’s new Ceramic Metallic paint, a cool-hued off-white with a touch a gray and warm flake; I usually detest white SUVs, but this is a really nice shade — and it’s barely a SUV, so I’ll let it fly. The classy colouring continues inside with Garnet Red leather seats, which are the same beautifully sculpted chairs I love so much in the 3. New for 2024 is an updated 10.3-inch infotainment display we’ve seen trickling down from the CX-90;  it’s not an overhaul as it still uses the same knob-and-button interface, but it’s a little sharper-looking, snappier, and now has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

Otherwise, the CX-30 is pretty much the same as it was before, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Mazda’s signature attention to detail with regards to driving dynamics and interior touch points goes a long way towards making it feel like a luxury product. It drives terrifically well, able to be both forgiving and fun. Mazda’s driver aids like lane centering and adaptive cruise control work well, and the Bose Premium audio system is surprisingly good.

Front head- and legroom are good, but just like the 3 on which it’s based, rear-seat accommodations are a little tight and cargo space actually takes a small hit compared to the 3 hatch. It’s still plenty usable, but if you’re regularly hauling lots of stuff and/or people, it might be a problem — a problem the CX-50 solves quite neatly, if you’re into its more suburbanite styling.

The CX-30 starts at $28,150 for the base GX trim, but this near-fully-loaded GT rings in at $40,790 as-tested. This puts it on the pricey end of the cute-ute spectrum and overlaps with a base-but-still-very-well-equipped CX-50 GS-L, but as my friend made it clear to me, it’s about the perception. It’s about the feeling of being a little taller, a little tougher, and a little more adventure-ready without going full Soccer Mom. The 2024 Mazda CX-30 GT looks and feels like a luxury product, and it’s been outselling the 3 two-to-one. I’ll take the L on this one and concede that maybe she’s onto something.


Vehicle Specs
Subcompact crossover
Engine Size
2.5L normally aspirated four-cylinder
Horsepower (at RPM)
191 hp at 6,000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft.)
186 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
572/1,280 (seats up/down)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
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About Nathan Leipsig

Deputy Editor Nathan is a passionate enthusiast with a penchant for finding 80s and 90s European vehicles. He can typically be found messing about on his E28 5-series or on Kijiji looking for the next project. Current Toys: '23 Miata Club 6MT, '86 535i, '99 Beetle TDI 5MT