Mazda CX-5 vs Mazda CX-30: Which SUV should you go for?

Shaun · Oct 10, 2020 04:54 PM

SUVs are all the rage now, which is why manufacturers are filling in all the niches possible in their SUV lineup. And here we have the Mazda CX-5 and the Mazda CX-30, both are technically in the C-segment SUV market.

Well, some would consider the CX-30 to be a crossover but let’s not get into the whole SUV vs crossover thing just yet. Back to the topic, the Mazda CX-5 and CX-30 not only sit in the same segment, they are within similar price bracket as well. So, which do you pick? Let us break it down.

Mazda CX-5

Below are the prices (OTR with SST incentive, valid until 31 December 2020) and variants for the aforementioned models:

Mazda CX-5

  • 2.0G 2WD Mid - RM 132,403
  • 2.0G 2WD High - RM 148,563
  • 2.5G 2WD High - RM 161,103
  • 2.2D 2WD High - RM 167,274
  • 2.5G 4WD High T/C - RM 174,852

Mazda CX-30

  • 2.0G Core - RM 144,759
  • 2.0G High - RM 159,109
  • 2.0G High AWD - RM 170,459
  • 1.8D High - RM 167,673

Mazda CX-30

Powertrain - More options in the CX-5

The Mazda CX-5 has a wider range of engine options from a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine to a 2.5-litre turbocharged engine, with a 2.2-litre diesel engine as well.

One engine shared between the two is the 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine. It makes 162 PS/213 Nm and is mated to a 6-speed automatic. For daily driving, it’s perfectly adequate for both the CX-5 and CX-30.

Power delivery is linear, the engine is happy to rev, plus the 6-speed automatic transmission is ever-ready to shift down upon throttle depression.

Interestingly, the Mazda CX-5 2.5G is only about RM 2,000 pricier than the CX-30 2.0G High variant. The extra muscle from the added capacity is useful when ferrying a few passengers as the 2.0L engine does feel a little strained with 5 adults onboard.

If you’re frequently travelling on highways, the CX-5 with the larger capacity engine would be more suitable for your requirement.

Interior and Practicality - CX-5 is more practical, CX-30 is plusher

CX-5's interior

While the Mazda CX-5 isn’t known to be the most spacious in its segment, the CX-30 is even tighter in the rear. There’s less kneeroom and headroom and compromised by the low roofline.

Space in the rear (CX-5)

Space in the rear (CX-30)

The CX-5’s interior does feel dated when compared to the CX-30 with the smaller infotainment display and analogue instrument cluster. The CX-30’s leather-wrapped dashboard that flows into the door panels with a wrap around effect elevates the interior’s ambiance.

CX-30's interior

As for storage spaces, the CX-30 has a compartment on the driver side underneath the memory seat controls, which the CX-5 goes without. But the CX-5’s rear armrest has 2 USB charging ports with a tray for mobile devices.

Boot space is slightly larger in the Mazda CX-5 at 442 litres, compared to 430 litres in the CX-30. Apart from that, both are similarly practical; the side door bins fit large bottles and has a decently-sized centre armrest storage.

CX-5 (top)
CX-30 (bottom)

Ride Comfort - CX-5 is a little more pliant

The Mazda CX-5’s suspension is a little more pliant compared to the CX-30. This is also aided by thicker profile tyres on the CX-5, particularly the 2.0L variants with 17-inch wheels.

In the CX-30, the ride is unnecessarily firm with no significant upside to it. The suspension isn’t stiff to the point where it’s crashy, but you’d notice it if you switch between the CX-5 and CX-30.

Seats are equally supportive in both cars, as Mazda does emphasize on proper seating posture. Driving position in the CX-5 is more SUV-like in which you sit a little higher whereas in the CX-30, you’re seated lower that is more akin to a hatchback.

CX-30's front seats

Noise level is lower in the CX-30 despite the CX-5 having double-glazed front windows. Both cabins are quiet to travel in, it’s just that the CX-30 is even quieter with less rolling noise. At 110 km/h, the CX-30 averaged 66.5 dB while the CX-5 hovered in the region of 68 dB.

Driving Experience - CX-30 is nimbler

Both being a Mazda, the controls are perfectly calibrated; steering is nicely weighted, the floor-mounted accelerator pedal is responsive and linear, brakes are progressive as well.

Driver's POV in the CX-5

Interestingly, the brakes on the CX-5 do bite a little harder compared to the CX-30. Although it has to be noted that this isn’t directly correlated to braking performance, it’s just the calibration of the brake booster.

Through the twisty bits, the CX-30 is more agile from its smaller dimensions and lower weight, while body roll is slightly less pronounced. But the GVC+ system in both cars do work its magic to maintain composure.

Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) - CX-30 wins

In terms of ADAS, the CX-30 has the uppperhand with Mazda Radar Cruise Control, which the CX-5 omits. The CX-30's suite of i-Activsense that bundles:

  • High Beam Control (HBC)
  • Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM)
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)
  • Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS)
  • Lane-Keep Assist System (LAS)
  • Driver Attention Alert (DAA)
  • Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) - Front & Rear
  • Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC)

The range-topping variants (2.2D 2WD and 2.5G 4WD) of the CX-5 feature:

  • Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM)
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)
  • Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS)
  • Lane-Keep Assist System (LAS)
  • Driver Attention Alert (DAA)
  • Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) - Front & Rear

Conclusion - CX-5 for practicality, CX-30 for manoeuvrability

Being fully-imported from Japan, the Mazda CX-30 is in a similar price bracket as its larger sibling – the locally-assembled Mazda CX-5. To choose between the two SUVs would depend on your preferences.

If you prefer a smaller SUV that is easier to manoeuvre around town, handles a little more nimbly, plus an up-to-date interior, the CX-30 would suit your preferences. If practicality, space and comfort rank higher in your priorities, then the CX-5 would be the better choice.

My pick would be the CX-5 for its extra space and practicality. The CX-30, when experienced in isolation, is actually rather pleasant. However, when driven back to back with the Mazda 3, the compromise in driving engagement isn’t equally rewarded with comfort. 

So personally, if I were looking for a more connected driving experience, I’d go for the Mazda 3. And if I need something more practical, it’s the CX-5. But that’s just me, what would be your choice now that the differences are laid out?