2020 Mazda CX-30 vs. Toyota C-HR comparison, why not a Honda CR-V?

The 2020 Mazda CX-30 will be coming to Malaysia soon as the official distributor, Bermaz Motor is now accepting bookings for their latest Mazda CX-30.

Pricing was not in the CX-30’s favour it will be fully imported rather than assembled locally at Mazda Malaysia’s plant. This positioning places it in the league of the Toyota C-HR and not the Honda HR-V.

Naturally so, as the 2020 Mazda CX-30 is a direct competitor to the C-HR and not the HR-V. Mazda has the CX-3 for that.

The CX-30 and C-HR couldn’t be anymore similar, not just in terms of size but also technology and features. If you’re in the market for a sporty and stylish crossover, let us break it down to you how you should choose between the CX-30 and C-HR.

The C-HR is offered in a sole 1.8L CVT variant priced at RM 150,000 on the dot. Buyers of the 2020 Mazda CX-30 will have the luxury of choice of 3 variants – 2.0 petrol, 2.0 petrol High and 1.8 diesel High. Estimated pricing for the CX-30 is between RM 143k to RM 173k for the top-spec diesel.

Mazda CX-30 has a more premium interior

There’s no denying that Mazda has one of the most desirable interiors money offered by a mass-market Japanese brand. The CX-30 shares the same cabin as the Mazda 3, furnished with tactile buttons, crisp LCD displays and minimalistic design.

The quality of materials is also very premium in feel. Each button has a very satisfying tactile feel to it – no matter which variant you pick. Think Audi interior and you wouldn’t be too far off.

The C-HR’s cabin is best described as ‘safe’ and doesn’t leave a strong impression like the Mazda. It tries to be the ‘hip’ sibling in the Toyota family with unique diamond pattered door trims and driver-focused dashboard design.

However, there are still plenty of old school Toyota to be found like the analogue instrument cluster, buttons and the illumination on the climate control. Maybe not to the taste of millennials, but some buyers would appreciate the simplicity of the C-HR compared to the CX-30.

Mazda CX-30 has better tech but also more expensive

Based on the initial specification released by Bermaz Motor (final specification may change), the CX-30 is armed to the teeth. But that is only if you go for the High variants which will push the car price upwards of RM 163k, that is more than RM 10k dearer than the C-HR.

However, you do get additional feel good and convenience features in the CX-30 than the C-HR. For starters, the 7.0-inch full-colour digital instrument cluster display, 8.8-inch MZD (non-touchscreen) infotainment system and windscreen projected colour heads-up display creates a distinctively more upmarket cabin ambience over the C-HR. Parents would also appreciate the convenience of having a powered tailgate (available on High variants).

The bulk of the asking price of the CX-30 goes to the Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS). Where the C-HR does not even come with autonomous emergency braking, the CX-30 will have the option for adaptive cruise control.

Toyota C-HR is more balanced to drive

Both the CX-30 and C-HR shares the same platform as their respective dynamic sedan siblings namely the Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla Altis. As such, the two crossovers are widely praised for their driving dynamics.

Having experienced the C-HR first-hand, the handling characteristic is best described as a well-balanced with progressive steering – easy for the average drivers to prod the chassis’ talent. Overseas reviewers have described the CX-30 to be sharp and agile, very much like the Mazda 3.

Enthusiasts who can’t ditch their habit of carving corners would be more inclined towards the CX-30. But for the everyday drivers, the C-HR’s all-rounded character is easier to manage around the corners.

More power = more fun?

Unfortunately, Malaysian buyers do not have the privilege of buying the C-HR with a hybrid option. Instead, we get a sole 1.8-litre naturally aspirated engine and CVT automatic combo with outputs of 140 PS and 171 Nm. The same engine found in the Corolla Altis.

The Mazda, on the other hand, has two engine options – a 2.0-litre N/A petrol (163 PS/213 Nm, shared with the new Mazda 3) and a 1.8-litre turbodiesel (114 PS & 270 Nm). Both engine options are paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

None of the engine options screams performance, not even Mazda’s turbodiesel. The name of the game here is efficiency and refinement – of which Toyota and Mazda excel in.

However, it doesn’t make the cars any less fun. The engine options are more than enough to give you a great time behind the wheel and the reasonable output makes it easier to manage for the regular folks. If anything, the weak engines bring out the best of the chassis dynamics.

Which to pick?

No doubt the CX-30 and C-HR will only appeal to a niche group of buyers. Buyers who are willing to forgo sound consumer advice (Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5) and go with their heart's desire.

If you’re a keen driver who loves all things pretty and shiny, wait out for the Mazda CX-30. Others who can’t live without the simplicity that’s unique Toyota and can appreciate a decent driving experience, look no further than the Toyota C-HR.