CX-30 PREMIUM PLUS (AWD)—tires: 215/55/R18; wheelbase: 104.4 inches; length: 173 inches; height: 62.2 inches; width: 70.7 inches; weight: 3,505 pounds; fuel capacity: 12.7 gallons; city: 22 mpg; highway: 30 mpg; base price: $33,900; price as tested: $36,995; website:

When it debuted just last year, it received a warm welcome from the auto journo world. We all just loved its sleek and eye-catching design. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy a fun-to-drive and energetic ride keeping in mind the ‘Zoom-Zoom’ (emotion of motion phrase) made so popular by the Japanese carmaker? Best of all, the 2021 Mazda CX-30 didn’t replace any vehicle in the lineup. Instead, the SUV filled a slot between the subcompact CX-3 and the bigger CX-5.

Seating five in comfort and style, this sporty crossover is equipped with a 2.5-liter, turbocharged, inline-four cylinder engine cranking out 227 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 310 pounds-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm while mated to a smooth six-speed auto gearbox. Whether you choose front-wheel or all-wheel drive, the compact crossover is equipped with the direct-injection SKYACTIV-G, which uses a torque boost via a high compression ratio to increase fuel economy. Want to have some pleasure on the road? Just turn on the sport mode and step on the pedal.

Up front, a matte-finish grille with the Mazda emblem is flanked by horizontal, trapezoidal, eagle-eyed LED headlights and daytime running lights. The well-crafted, intelligently designed and simple cabin conveys a classy and tailored look. Pleasing to the eye is a 7-inch TFT instrument cluster of analog speedometer, tachometer, fuel/temp and driver information center. The 8.8-inch screen for navigation, phone and audio is easy to use via a commander control knob on the center console.

Our top-level Premium Plus arrived with standard dual auto AC, leather seats, shifter and steering column, power moonroof and liftgate, push-button start, heated front seats, paddle shifters, metallic-finish trim, power driver’s seat, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities and a 12-speaker Bose sound system. Head and legroom is adequate for adults, and best of all is the 60/40 split rear seat, which folds flat via a lever release in the trunk.

Included are dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, dynamic stability and traction controls, four-wheel antilock brakes, hill launch assist, blind-spot monitor, lane-keep assist and departure warning, rear-cross traffic alert, front/rear parking sensors/crumple zones and stabilizer bars, rearview camera, three-point safety belts for all, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights. The G-Vectoring Control Plus (enables drivers to handle emergency situations or untoward road conditions with more accurate steering inputs) comes at no extra cost. And the i-ACTIV AWD works along with G-Vectoring to control torque distribution between front/rear wheels.

Like its siblings in the CX fold, the CX-30 will surely carve a niche in the competitive compact crossover segment. It delivers a compelling performance, abundant cargo/passenger room, sportiness and worthy fuel mileage.

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