Tag Archives: Skyactiv-G

2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo, Premium Plus, AWD

Already a winner, new turbo elevates CX-30 to top tier …

Earlier this year I named Mazda’s slick new small crossover, the CX-30, as my Zoomie 2021 Car of the Year. Little did I know then that it was gonna get better.

The original was sporty looking, featured responsive handling, a quiet near luxury interior and had good power. Now the power is outstanding.

Mazda, as it did with its sporty Mazda3 recently, has added a kicky turbo to its already solid 2.5-liter SkyActiv-G 4-cylinder. The result is a hoot a power rating between 227 and 250 horsepower. That’s up from 168 horses in the original CX-30.

Why, you ask, is there such a range of horsepower for this spiffy turbo?

Because if you’re cheap like me you can fill up with 87-octane fuel and still feel pretty peppy with the turbo delivering 227 horses, or spend a little more for 91 octane (or higher) premium gas and the horsepower jumps to 250. All this in a 3,472-lb. crossover on a short 104.5-inch wheelbase.

Yowza!

Acceleration is crazy quick with the CX-30 easily pressing triple digits down a highway entry ramp. Car and Driver magazine says the petite crossover will snap off 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and top speed is said to be 128 mph. Coupled with the all-wheel-drive system that’s standard on all turbo-equipped CX-30s and you’ve got the grip to use that power to your advantage, even if the road is a tad wet.

See Mark’s video review: https://youtu.be/daMiHWGAp6w

Note too there’s a Sport drive mode toggle on the console that will give the CX-30 more oomph as needed. It was much appreciated as I zipped away from bulky traffic jams at stoplights. Click it and leap away from the heavy metal beasts with bigger engines, then click it off and cruise. Sport mode helps Mazda’s six-speed automatic that’s designed for fuel economy to put the emphasis on low-end power for as long as you need it.

Likewise the Mazda handles well, not exactly sports car nimble, but quite responsive and easy to zip through tight corners and whip into cramped parking spaces in the city. No body lean or sway even on super windy days, which were plentiful during this drive.

Ride is much more sophisticated in the CX-30 than other short-wheelbase crossovers. Firm? Yes, the ride is, but so well controlled that you’ll feel you’re in a longer-wheelbase crossover costing much more. Sound deadening is awesome too, a quiet interior here insinuates luxury not found in the price tag.

This interior also helps Mazda establish itself as the maker of finer, near luxury, machines, not just another mainstream car maker trying to only compete with the Toyotas,  Hondas, and Nissans of the world.

Like the previous CX-30 I’d tested, this one had a gorgeous leather interior, creamy white seats and brown over black dash with soft brown door armrests and insert trim. That brown on the dash wraps into the door trim creating an especially snazzy look. Trim on the dash and door handles is satin chrome and Mazda includes a leather wrapped gear shift knob and steering wheel. Just wish the wheel was a racier flat-bottomed number.

High-quality interior puts this Mazda well above its competitors.

Those seats are well shaped and the surface feels soft and smooth, again more of a luxury feel than you’ll find in most mid-range crossovers. For the record, the entry level has cloth seats, the next level up gets leatherette and the Premium and Premium plus real leather.

Front seats are powered and have two memory settings for the driver’s seat and a power lumbar too. Front seats also have three-level heat and the steering wheel is heated in the tested Premium Plus model.

Head and legroom are good up front and moderate in back. If a driver or front seat passenger is tall then the foot and legroom becomes tight in back. Cargo room is generous behind the split fold-down rear seats and the hatch is powered.

Dash layout is clean and attractive with an 8.8-inch infotainment screen that’s tucked into an indent atop the dash’s center. I like it being high, but some riders said they’d prefer a lower position. Personal choice I’m sure!

Standard are dual climate controls, a sunroof and a handy 360-degree backup camera.

Safety systems are all standard too, including front and rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert and braking, blind-spot warning, lane departure and smart cruise control. The beeping from the blind-spot warning can be a bit startling the first couple times it goes off, but less so after you know what it’s warning you about.

Other goodies include a fine 12-speaker Bose stereo system, plus Android Auto and Apple Car Play. No wireless charger though. That’s still a $275 option. Outside mirrors also are heated, the wipers are rain-sensing, and front lights are adaptive.

I’d like to call this a perfect vehicle, but that’s not possible, ever. The automatic parking brake is irritating as it sets itself every time the ignition is turned off. No other tested vehicle does this. So each time you start to back up that brake engages to hold you back. You can either press the console’s button, or accelerate harder (not sure that’s wise) and it’ll overpower the brake and it will disengage.

Then there’s the central control knob on the console to adjust the info screen’s radio and navigation systems, etc. Once you play with it a while (several days) you’ll figure out how to get to the station list and change channels, but it’s not easy to do while driving. Saving favorites? The same. I beg Mazda to copy one of the easier systems found in most vehicles now.

But there’s so much else to love here. Sorry Subaru!

CX-30’s styling is leading edge, it’s noteworthy, it’s spectacular. The beak of the hood gives this crossover a nose to remember. Reminds me of the racy beak on 1960s and 1970s Eagle Indycar racers. The slits for headlights are equally appealing and the taillights also make a styling statement.

But all that aside, the Soul Red Metallic paint job is so stunning that it alone could sell someone on the CX-30. Soul Red is absolutely the best current paint color on any car on the market. Everyone commented on it. People asked about it at the gas station and in the driveway. It’ll cost you $595 extra, but is absolutely worth it.

Gas mileage dips a bit on the turbo, and I admit to abusing the Power mode button and having more fun than I likely am entitled. I still got 26.6 mpg as opposed to 31.7, which was amazing, on the original CX-30 with its more moderate power. The EPA estimates this model will get 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

Best of all you won’t be paying a fortune for fun. The base turbo model starts at $30,050 and remember that includes AWD. A Premium model that would satisfy most of us goes for $32,450 and the tested Premium Plus lists at $35,000 including delivery. Non-turbo models with front-wheel-drive start at about $23,000, with AWD adding $1,400 to the price.

With its awesome red paint job and a few minor options the test crossover was $35,995, a bit less than the average price of a new car these days. Bravo!

CX-30 is a no-brainer if you’re in the small crossover market. It’s beautiful while also being a high-value hoot of a drive. Could it be the car of the year for two years in a row?

FAST STATS: 2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo, Premium Plus, AWD

Hits: Excellent turbo power, responsive handling, plus AWD. Sporty looks, leatherette interior feels luxurious, big screen, sunroof, heated steering wheel and front seats, 360-camera, smart cruise and safety systems, Bose stereo, comfy supportive front seats, power hatch. High value, fun drive.

Sexy beak and eyes!

Misses: Not a fan of the console-controlled info screen, and ride is firm, but well-controlled. The park brake sets itself every time the ignition is turned off, so annoying to disengage each time you drive the car. Wireless charging (optional) and flat-bottom steering wheel would be nice.

Made in: Salamanca, Mexico

Engine: 2.5-liter SkyActiv-G I4, turbo, 227-250 hp

Transmission: SkyActiv-drive 6-speed, automatic w/Sport mode

Weight: 3,472 lbs.

Wheelbase: 104.5 in.

Length: 173 in.

Cargo: 20.2 cu.ft.

MPG: 22/30

MPG: 26.6 (tested)

Base Price: $35,000 (includes delivery)

Invoice: N.A.

Options:

Soul Red Crystal paint, $595

Cargo cover, $150

All-weather floor mats, $125

Rear bumper guards, stainless, $125

Test vehicle: $35,995

Sources: Mazda, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

2020 Mazda MX-5 GT RF

Mazda MX-5 GT RF is a massively fun Miata …

For years those of us who dreamed of owning a sports car envisioned a British MG TF in British Racing Green with a tan interior.

MG’s TF was the epitome of what a sports car should be, and look like – cute, stylish and nimble. It also was a British car, so electronics were suspect.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention power, because sports cars are not muscle cars, they are quick, nimble and fun to drive. They don’t throb at a stoplight like a stereo’s bass speaker about to explode. They purr and chortle. Continue reading 2020 Mazda MX-5 GT RF

2019 Mazda3 Platinum AWD Hatch

Mazda3 hatch with AWD is sleek, fast and fun …

I’ve owned a couple Mazdas through the years. I’ve liked them for their sporty handling and edgy styling that set them apart from many competitors.

The new 2019 Mazda3 Hatchback does nothing to spoil those differentiators, in fact it improves on the looks and upgrades the interior to make it even more attractive. But there’s more, Mazda also adds AWD as an option, putting it in direct competition with the sporty AWD Subaru Impreza, but with a touch more zip. Continue reading 2019 Mazda3 Platinum AWD Hatch

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD

Mazda CX-5 delivers looks, power and sports sedan handling …

Mazda may have dumped its zoom-zoom tagline, but the Japanese car maker hasn’t eliminated it from its vehicles, witness the CX-5 compact crossover.

While most car makers are happy to offer decent power, meh handling and a useful interior, Mazda doubles down on excellent power, sports sedan handling and ride, plus AWD, luxury interior and an exterior that garners attention. Continue reading 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD

2019 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring RF

MX-5 RF a fun-sized droptop made for summer …2019 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring RF (Miata)

Looking for muscle? Read no further. Looking for fun? Mazda’s sporty MX-5 RF is a fun-sized 2-seater.

The MX-5, known in the U.S. market as the Miata, has added muscle to be sure. But easy driving and economical fun is what has set it apart from everything else on the open road. Continue reading 2019 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring RF

2019 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD

Mazda CX-3 sticking with a good thing …2019 Mazda CX-3

Not much seems to have changed with Mazda’s stylish small crossover, the CX-3, since I last tested it a couple years ago.

I mean it gained two horsepower (big whoop), but really nothing much needed to change. I’d still like more horsepower, but at least there’s a Sport mode toggle on the console to boost power when you need it. Continue reading 2019 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD

2018 Mazda6 Signature

2018 Mazda6 SignatureMazda6 Signature adds turbo power to the mix …

Mazda has long had one of the better looking midsize sedans, its Mazda6. But if there was anything to slow its sales it may have been its somewhat modest horsepower.

Mazda’s efficient 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G I4 isn’t a weakling, it pumps out 184 horsepower, but there are competitors in this super competitive market segment with engines delivering 200+ horsepower. Continue reading 2018 Mazda6 Signature

2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

Mazda CX-5 remains a sporty crossover … 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

As the world turns toward an all crossover and SUV automotive market it’s encouraging that the likes of Mazda continues to try and design sharp-looking vehicles that drive more like sports cars than trucks.

This week’s fun four-wheeler is the midsize CX-5 crossover in top-level Grand Touring 4×4 trim and bathed oh so beautifully in Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint. That’ll cost you $595 extra, but it’ll also turn heads. Continue reading 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

2017.5 Mazda6 Grand Touring

Mazda6 GT stylish and loaded with goodies … 2017.5 Mazda6

While theaters are bulging with “Star Wars,” auto dealer showrooms are embroiled in car wars as top-selling mid-size sedans butt heads with their latest models. Continue reading 2017.5 Mazda6 Grand Touring

2016 Mazda6 Grand Touring

Move over Camry, Accord, the new Mazda6 is a gemmazda6b

After all these years reviewing cars (30+) I find it hard to understand why Mazda doesn’t sell a lot more cars.

Its midsize Mazda6 is another gem that is sporty looking, handles well, provides a comfortable ride with good power and delivers extremely good fuel economy. Sounds like a lot of checkmarks in the average buyer’s “want” boxes.

Yet Toyota’s Camry and Honda’s Accord, among others, outsell the Mazda6 regularly, and have for years. Could it just be buying habits that work against other sedans that easily challenge those top dogs? Could be. But if you’re looking for a midsize family car with more pizazz, then the Mazda6 should be dead center on your radar.

I drove a sharp looking Blue Reflex (light silvery blue) Grand Touring model. That’s top of the line, so it’s loaded with standard equipment, leather seats, etc., plus this one added the $2,180 GT technology package, a cargo mat and door sill trim plates to push a $30,195 base price up to $33,395, including an $820 delivery fee. That’s almost exactly the average selling price for a new vehicle these days.

mazda6cHere’s what you get and how it drives. Continue reading 2016 Mazda6 Grand Touring