Mazda CX-30 2021 x20 astina (awd) m hybrid
review

2021 Mazda CX-30 review: Astina X20 (Skyactiv-X) AWD

Rating: 7.9
$46,490 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
    N/A
  • Engine Power
    132kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    157g
  • ANCAP Rating
    5Stars
Can clever engineering and mild-hybrid technology give the CX-30 the refinement it needs? James drives the CX-30 Skyactiv-X to find out.
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I’ll preface this review of the 2021 Mazda CX-30 Astina X20 (Skyactiv-X) by saying that Mazda deserves the world’s praise for continuing to take an interest in obscure and unique engine options.

But perhaps a little less praise for overly long model designation codes.

From a decades-long commitment to the rotary, occasional dalliances with Miller and Atkinson cycle four-stroke combustion, and now with the Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) petrol motor (that is much cooler when you use its ‘Skyactiv-X’ superhero name), Mazda’s engineering and financial commitment to building a better mousetrap is something of an outlier in today’s automotive world.

But is it worth the effort?

2021 Mazda CX-30 Astina X20 (Skyactiv-X) AWD
Engine configurationFour-cylinder petrol with Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) and 24V mild-hybrid
Displacement2.0L (1998cc)
Power132kW @ 6000rpm
Torque224Nm @ 3000rpm
TransmissionSix-speed automatic
Drive typeAll-wheel drive
Weight (Tare)1525kg
Power-to-weight ratio86.6kW/t
Fuel consumption (combined cycle claim)6.0L/100km
Fuel consumption (combined cycle on test)8.2L/100km
Fuel tank size48L
Turning circle10.6m
Sales categorySmall/Compact SUV
Key competitorsOther CX-30 models | Toyota C-HR Hybrid | Lexus UX250h

The CX-30 high-hatch has won over buyers and critics alike. Smartly styled and well equipped, the ’30 blends an urban-friendly footprint with plenty of long-distance touring tech and ability.

We liked running one as a long-termer, and you liked to read about it, with the CX-30 making the top-10 of our most-read models, and individual reviews last year.

But for all its positives, there has been one area where the CX-30 felt a bit lacking and unrefined; under the bonnet.

The entry-level 114kW, 200Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder G20 petrol engine, quite simply feels underpowered. The larger 2.5-litre unit, with 139kW and 252Nm available, moves things along pretty well but comes off as buzzy and harsh as you start to rev it out.

So there was understandable excitement when Mazda’s trick 2.0-litre SPCCI four-cylinder mild-hybrid was added to the range.

The engine, identical to the unit found in the Mazda3 hatch, promises more efficient operation, with lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions, as well as better response and overall refinement.

It is paired with a 24-volt electric generator which helps smooth the transition of the stop-start system, thus providing a more seamless sensation from off-to-on as the Skyactiv-X works hard to burn the least amount of fuel possible.

This is done by using a high-compression sparkless ignition process, like a diesel, as well as a conventional spark-driven process like a petrol engine. It’s very clever and gives the car a best of both worlds prospect of torquey response low in the rev range, and good power up the other end.

On paper, it works.

2021 Mazda CX-30 Astina X20 (Skyactiv-X) AWD
Length4395mm
Width1795mm
Height1540mm
Wheelbase2655mm
Ground clearance175mm
Boot volume317L / 422L
Tow rating (unbraked / braked)600kg / 1200kg
Wheels/tyres18-inch – 215/55 R18 Dunlop

Peak torque of 224Nm is available from 3000rpm, compared to 4000rpm from both other conventional engines. Power still peaks at 6000rpm, but the Skyactiv-X offers 132kW from its 2.0-litre displacement, a 16 per cent increase on the G20 motor.

Fuel consumption is similarly improved, with a near eight per cent improvement on the combined cycle of the regular 2.0-litre (6.0L/100km compared to 6.5L/100km), and a nearly 12 per cent improvement on the 2.5-litre (6.8L/100km).

In action, it works too… mostly.

Response off the mark is smoother and less buzzy than in the G25, and it seems to pull more strongly as you shift gears. It’s an improved experience, more European if you will.

A display on the Mazda Connect infotainment screen even shows you when the engine changes its ignition cycle, something that is otherwise imperceptible. Again, clever, but hardly world-changing.

You see, while the fuel use on test was higher than claimed (classic Mazda) at 8.2L/100km, it was less than we’ve seen on similar drive loops in the G25 (8.6L/100km). But not that much less, especially considering that at $46,490 before options and on-road costs, the X20 Astina AWD is $3000 more expensive than the G25 Astina ($43,490).

The spec on the two cars is identical, so that price premium is purely for the engine.

If that $3000 was used just on petrol, and you could actually meet the 6.0L/100km combined claim, you would recoup the difference from the 6.8L/100km ‘thirst’ of the G25 in just 26-years of 10,000km per year travel.

Yeah.

2021 Mazda CX-30 Astina X20 (Skyactiv-X) AWD
ColourSoul Red Crystal
Price (MSRP)$46,490
Options as tested$495
Servicing 3yr$1148
Servicing 5yr$2052
ANCAP safety rating5-star (tested 2019)
Warranty5 years / unlimited km

However, the X20 expels 141g/km of carbon dioxide, compared to 157g/km from the G25 and 152g/km in the G20. That means, in the same 10,000km year of driving, you’ll drop 160kg (about 10 per cent) less CO2 into the atmosphere.

For a bit of fun, the car even shows you the ‘tree-o-meter’ to illustrate how many trees you’ve grown by reducing your carbon emissions.

This is a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but saying 'Mazda X' is better than 'Mazda G' doesn’t actually make Mazda anything the best answer.

For starters, calling this a mild-hybrid is a stretch. It’s a mild, mild-hybrid if it’s anything, and the 24-volt system doesn’t offer any zero-emission drive like a Toyota. For context, the CH-R Hybrid has a 208-volt battery.

There’s no performance boost like you find even in some 48-volt systems, and there’s no sporty driving reward you find from some other higher technology engines. The X20 is an efficiency and clean-running play, not a sportier or more entertaining one.

It could be argued that Mazda’s search for the holy grail of powertrain efficiency is somewhat of a foolish errand. Refine your petrol engines, and offer forced-induction for compact efficiency, or employ a more substantial hybrid or electric drive approach.

Don’t let this take anything away from the CX-30 as a car though, it remains a comfortable and pleasant place to spend time. It looks great in Soul Red ($495 option) and continues to look sharp and modern into its second year on sale.

Yes, the 2021 Mazda CX-30 Astina X20 (Skyactiv-X) is more refined and more efficient, but it is not more ‘enough’ to make a difference. The cost of entry lessens the appeal, and while it is better for the environment, there are other options that are better still (the Hybrid CH-R produces just 97g/km of carbon dioxide).

Personally, I’d rather see Mazda focus on making their mainstream petrol engines more efficient (with said efficiency more achievable), and perhaps offering the CX-30 with the 170kW/420Nm 2.5-litre turbo from the CX-5, as they do in other markets.

It seems a shame to stifle Mazda’s adventurous engineering, as it is what sets the winged-M apart from everyone else, but sadly the Skyactiv-X engine sounds cooler than reality can provide.

Luckily overseas markets still have the range-extending rotary in the electric MX-30 to look forward to, though at this stage it will remain forbidden fruit for Australia, with only the full EV and a repeat of this mild hybrid coming here.

Stay brave, Mazda. Stay brave.


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