Mazda CX-30 Carbon Edition it hot, but lacks the go to match the show

Mazda CX-30 Carbon Edition in polymetal grey. Picture: Lance Witten

Mazda CX-30 Carbon Edition in polymetal grey. Picture: Lance Witten

Published Sep 7, 2023


You know how true hikers can spot those who just want to look the part? That’s exactly what Mazda’s CX-30 seems to do.

With the broad body cladding and 18“ rims, you’d be forgiven this is a shrunk-down SUV, but it’s anything but.

It’s more Sports than Utility Vehicle.

It’s certainly more taut and edgy than any other Mazda passenger offerings. The 2.0l engine is more spritely than the 1.5l you’ll find in the Mazda 3, and the suspension is stiffer, and steering more responsive.

Despite its greater ground clearance than the garden variety Mazda 3, there’s virtually no body roll, so it feels incredibly chuckable.

But there’s a downside. The 6-speed AT can feel a little more like a CVT, especially under hard acceleration. You’ll find a happy medium though - not with your right foot planted flat, but somewhere just beyond half-mast the shifts are precise, and engine and gearbox operate in wonderful concert. You’ve also got flappy paddles on the steering wheel if you wanna switch gears semi-manually.

Picture: Lance Witten

You can also flip it into manual shift mode by rocking the gear lever to the right, but the flappy paddles work best if you’re feeling exuberant.

@lancethewit10 My quick review on the @Mazda Southern Africa #CX30 #CarbonEdition You’d really like this - well-priced, well-specced, and really premium-feeling. Defs one of my picks of the Mazda offering 👏![CDATA[]]>🏽 #cars #review #carsoftiktok #mazda #fyp #motoring #carreview ♬ Storytelling - Adriel

Next to the scroll wheel, you’ll find a little rocker switch that squeezes a little more out of the 2.0l engine. Flip it to “sport” and the engine holds onto gears almost to 7,000 RPM, eking out every kilowatt from the 121 available.


The base model Active (R490,300) comes with everything you need, from rain-sensing wipers and light-sensing headlamps, to LED foglamps, 8-speaker sound system, 16“ grey alloys, heads-up display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, auto-hold hill start assist, and a multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The Dynamic (R521,800) model adds smart keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, rear airvents, rear parking sensors, and the flappy paddles.

The top-specced Individual (R564,600) model has a frameless auto-dimming rear view mirror, black leather seat trim, a 12-speaker BOSE sound system, reverse camera, 18“ silver alloy wheels and reverse camera.

Picture: Lance Witten

The model I had on test was the Carbon Edition (R532,200), which slots in between the Dynamic and Individual models. Over the Dynamic, it’s got red stitching on the console lid, door trims, knee pads, and dash, with glossy blacked-out side mirrors and black 18“ alloy wheels completing the look.

Value for money?

Owing to the lighter weight, the CX-30 already has an advantage over the CX-5 (which starts at R508,000), and it’s bigger (and better looking) than the similarly priced CX-3 (which tops out at R524,700).

Would I buy one? Well, perhaps the Active model, which is still below R500k. The engine is perky enough without shooting the lights out, and the transmission can get a little whiny when it’s asked to work hard.

The Carbon Edition makes sense from a spec perspective seeing as it’s only around R10k more expensive than the Dynamic while adding those sexy 18“ wheels (who needs leather trim anyway), and you don’t really miss the 12-speaker BOSE system. Remember, the added speakers, bigger wheels and leather seats mean the Individual is a full R42k more expensive than the Dynamic, so the Carbon Edition slots in perfectly.


There are plenty of options in the CX-30’s price range, and I’m not sure if there’s enough in it to really make it stand out, apart from how utterly drop-dead gorgeous it is.

If only there was a little more go to match the show.