The all-new 2020 Mazda CX-30 crossover takes on two vehicles of similar size.
The all-new 2020 Mazda CX-30 is the brand’s newest offering in the burgeoning small-SUV segment, and we were impressed enough with the vehicle during our recent week-long test drive that we decided to make it the keystone in a three-vehicle comparison. We freely admit that the comparison is an unconventional one since it pits three vehicles with very different prices and pedigrees. But we think it not only tells you a great deal about the vehicles in question but it also tells you a great deal about the industry as a whole.
So what two vehicles do we have the audacity to compare to the Mazda CX-30? First, there is the Hyundai Kona, a small crossover SUV that could be deemed (depending upon who is doing the deeming) a straight-up competitor to the CX-30. Their list prices are within $2,000 of one another and their fuel economy and wheelbases are similar, so if you consider one there might a good reason to consider the other.
The 2020 Hyundai Kona has a younger personality than its two competitors in this comparison.
And then, as a wild card, there is the Audi Q3, a small crossover SUV from a well-regarded luxury brand. The Q3 is nearly $15,000 more expensive than the Kona, the difference being about 75% of the Kona’s total price. But looking past the price and the luxury badge, there are more similarities than the price differential might suggest. Further, since Mazda is toying with the idea of portraying itself as a luxury brand — you could argue it is already doing so — the case could be made that the Q3 is a logical comparison vehicle.
As we test drove the Mazda CX-30 we noted many similarities between it and the Audi Q3. Both have a premium sheen to their exterior designs, and both have well-penned, understated interiors. The Hyundai Kona sports a more youth-oriented exterior and interior than its rivals, but the difference isn’t as stark as some would imagine.
If the amount of prestige is commensurate with the size of the grille and the length of its “nose,” the CX-30 is certainly flirting with the luxury brands. Yet another expression of Mazda’s Kodo “Soul of Motion” design theme, the sleek curves and lines of the car are bold and seductive. The oversized fender flares aren’t filled with big tires, which lends a slightly awkward aspect to an otherwise attractive design.
The Audi Q3 brings its own brand of style to the same SUV segment.
The Audi Q3 is more upright and SUV-like in its overall design than its rivals, and it wins the grille-size battle against the two others in this comparison. Aside from the massive grille, the Q3 design is conventional and conservative, which is not to say unattractive.
The Hyundai Kona offers an exterior that keeps pace with its more expensive rivals. Among the upscale touches are its separated-headlight design featuring high-efficiency LED headlights and LED daytime running lights. The composite lamps, cascading grille, and unique “armor” design give the Kona an off-road-ready character.
In overall length, the CX-30 sits right in the middle between the Hyundai Kona and Audi Q3. In overall height, the CX-30 and Kona are within an inch of one another while the Audi is about three inches taller.
Mazda crossovers might offer smaller interiors than their rivals, but they do offer luxury-brand-like amenities, and the CX-30 continues in that tradition. The front seats offer comfort, support and a variety of adjustments, and the rear seat will accommodate two adults comfortably. The vehicle’s broad horizontal dash, well-organized controls, and impressive instrumentation would seem at home in a European crossover.
The Mazda CX-30 features an interior that would not be out of place in a luxury vehicle.
Speaking of which, the Audi Q3 features a dash that is equally utilitarian but busier than the Mazda’s. Controls are well-organized, and some might prefer the location of the infotainment screen closer to the driver than in the CX-30.
The Kona’s interior isn’t as high-luxe as the Audi’s or, for that matter, the Mazda’s, but objective observers would have to give it high marks for functionality. Both seat comfort and adjustability are good, and the rear legroom is only a bit tighter than in the CX-30 and Q3.
The Hyundai Kona’s interior isn’t as well-tailored as the interior in the Mazda or Audi, but it is … [+]
Infotainment & Tech
Audi’s MMI infotainment systems of years past might have been the inspiration for the Mazda CX-30 to buck the nearly ubiquitous touchscreen in favor of infotainment systems that emphasize console-mounted controllers, but in the newest Q3 Audi has thrown in its lot with the touchscreen crowd. The Q3 offers an 8.8-inch MMI touch response display with a 10.1-inch display available. Audi claims acoustic feedback helps make the touchscreen more usable when the vehicle is moving, and available handwriting recognition offers an easy way to enter information such as telephone numbers or destinations. The standard Audi smartphone interface provides Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. When equipped with MMI Navigation and Audi connect, the Q3 is capable of wireless Apple CarPlay, instead of relying on a USB cord. The available Bang & Olufsen Premium 3D Sound System is equipped with 15 speakers powered by a 16-channel amplifier.
The Mazda CX-30 uses a console-mounted controller to choose infotainment functions.
Mazda’s long-established decision to stay away from touchscreens was partially based on lengthy research that shows touchscreens inside cars equate to distracted, unsafe driving. Instead of a touchscreen, the CX-30’s infotainment system has a large knob and series of buttons on the center console that control the infotainment and navigation. The screen is built into the dashboard out of reach of the driver. CX-30 features an 8.8-inch center display with Mazda Connect, 8-speaker AM/FM with HD Radio, and Bluetooth. With the CX-30 Select trim, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities are included plus Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry.
Despite the Hyundai Kona’s low price, its infotainment does a pretty good job of keeping up with its two rivals in this comparison. The standard touchscreen display is 7 inches diagonally, and the system includes AM/FM/MP3 audio, auxiliary input jacks, voice-command recognition, and Rear View Monitor. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard across the board. The available 8-inch touchscreen navigation display includes Hyundai’s Blue Link Connected Car System, traffic flow and incident data via HD radio, and Infinity premium audio with eight speakers.
The Kona supplements touchscreen operation with easy-to-access buttons.
Engines, Transmissions & Driving Impressions
Available in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive like its companions in this comparison, the Mazda CX-30 is powered by a 2.5-liter engine with Skyactiv-G technology. Its 186 horsepower is among the highest in the segment, which is in keeping with Mazda’s performance reputation. On the road, the CX-30 delivers good acceleration, and its handling is enhanced by Vehicle Dynamics with G-Vectoring Control. From behind the wheel you forget you are in a crossover SUV. The CX-30 also offers 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway/28 mpg combined fuel economy.
The 2020 Audi Q3 is the hot rod of this three-way comparison. Behind the massive grille is a burly new 2.0-liter TFSI 4-cylinder engine, which delivers 228 horsepower. That’s an additional 28 horsepower versus the output of the previous-generation Q3. The turbocharged engine is mated to an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, which provides quick, smooth shifts. While the CX-30 is fun to drive, the Q3’s horsepower advantage tips the performance needle in its direction. Audi says the Q3 can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 7.0 seconds.
The Hyundai Kona offers the choice of normally aspirated or turbocharged 4-cylinder engines.
In comparison to the other two vehicles being dissected here, the Hyundai Kona is down on power. Two engines are offered. The base engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson-cycle engine that produces 147 horsepower, and it’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Kona’s Limited and Ultimate trims offer the Gamma 1.6-liter 4-cylinder direct-injected, turbocharged engine generating 175 horsepower. Peak torque begins at only 1,500 rpm and is maintained up to 4,500 rpm, so responsiveness and performance are actually quite good. We can’t say the Kona is as joyful to drive as the Q3 or CX-30, but with the turbo motor, it certainly holds its own.
Electronic Driver Assistance & Safety Systems
The vehicles in this comparison are all relatively new to the market, so all three vehicles include laudable suites of electronic driver-assistance systems. The Mazda CX-30 i-ACTIVSENSE SAFETY collection of technologies includes Driver Attention Alert, Lane Departure Warning with Lane-Keep Assist, and Smart Brake Support. Also included are Mazda Radar Cruise Control with stop and go function and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
Hyundai answers Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE SAFETY with standard Hyundai SmartSense safety technologies. The list isn’t as long as Mazda’s but it does include the very sophisticated Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, and Driver Attention Warning. The 2020 Kona also includes a newly-developed Smart Cruise Control feature on the Ultimate trim level. This version of adaptive cruise control can function as a typical cruise control system, but through its radar sensors and central “brain,” it can help the vehicle to maintain a fixed following distance behind the vehicle in front.
The Audi Q3 has a contemporary item motif, and it offers plenty of driver-assistance features.
The Q3 includes a laundry list of driver assistance features. Standard Audi pre sense basic can help prepare the vehicle for impending impact by beginning to close the side windows and panoramic sunroof and pretensioning the front safety belts. The system also provides visual and audible warnings to help alert the driver to potentially hazardous situations. Audi side assist with lane departure warning provides blind-spot monitoring and gives indications via LED indicators on the exterior mirror housings. Also included on the list are lane departure warning (that provides steering assist if necessary) and rear cross-traffic assist. Adaptive cruise control with stop and go helps maintain a set distance from the vehicle in front at speeds up to 95 mph. The Q3 even offers an optional parking assist system that can steer you into parking spaces automatically.
Value for Dollar Spent
So where does the value lie in this slightly unfair troika? Let’s review pricing for a minute. The base 2020 Mazda CX-30 has a manufacturer’s suggested list price of $21,900 plus the $1,045 destination charge. The suggested list price for the base trim level of the Hyundai Kona is $20,300 plus a stiff $1,120 destination charge. The larger, more accommodating Audi Q3, which comes from a prestige European brand, is much more expensive. The base price for the Premium model with quattro all-wheel drive is $35,695 plus a destination fee of $995.
Filled with upscale touches, the all-new Mazda CX-30 immediately proved itself a worthy contender in … [+]
So what is the verdict? Frankly, it would be fair to say that every one of these three vehicles is a good value. The Hyundai Kona does a whole lot of what the two others in this comparison do, and it does it with a lower price and a longer warranty. The Audi Q3 is an obvious choice if you want a premium experience that includes a prestigious brand name, all-around style and performance to match. With the new Mazda CX-30, you are certainly bordering on that premium experience as well in a vehicle that is lovely inside and out and very satisfying to drive. So no bad choices here. Which one is right for you?