We drive the stunning new Mazda CX-30 which sits between the CX-3 and CX-5 in terms of size and competes with everything from the Ford Puma to the Volvo XC40.
The other day my son asked me why all the cars I review look the same? Of course, I didn’t quite agree, but he did have a point. I drive a lot of SUVs these days and they do look similar.
The thing about the all-new Mazda CX-30 is that there’s nothing formulaic about its design. Featuring the latest iteration of the Japanese company’s “Kodo” philosophy, it dares to be different.
Like the Mazda 3 hatchback, on which it’s based, the CX-30 looks more like a concept than a production car. Whether it’s Mazda’s distinctive signature nose and long bonnet or the sleek, sculpted coupe-like profile, it’s a car that attracts second glances.
Confusingly named the CX-30 (because there’s already a big China-only Mazda CX-4), it’s priced from £22,895 to £33,495 and continues the brand’s push upmarket with excellent build quality and a real premium look and feel.
The huge 26-model line-up features five grades (SE-L, SE-L Lux, Sport Lux, GT Sport and GT Sport Tech), two 2.0-litre petrol engines with 12-volt mild hybrid assistance and a choice of front or all-wheel drive.
Mazda’s intriguing new 178bhp Skyactiv -X petrol unit (which is claimed to deliver the performance and fuel economy of a diesel) is offered, along with a 120bhp Skyactiv -G.
Both engines come either with a slick six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic, though only Skyactiv -X models are available with four-wheel drive as an option.
With a comfortable driving position, which can be as lofty or sporty as you like, there’s also plenty of space for adults in the back, while up front it’s attractively designed and very driver-centric.
Its boot has a wide opening with a decent 430-litre capacity, expanding to 1,406 litres with the rear seats flipped.
Generously equipped throughout the trim levels, the SE-L kicks things off with 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a head-up display, rear parking sensors, an 8.8-inch infotainment system (not a touchscreen – instead controlled by a dial near the gear selector) with navigation and smartphone integration
SE-L Lux adds goodies such as keyless entry, a reversing camera and front parking sensors, while Sport Lux gets 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, rear privacy glass and a frameless auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
It’s safe too, having been awarded a maximum five-star rating by Euro NCAP in its crash safety tests, including an exceptional 99% score in the Adult Occupant category. Naturally, it’s fitted with the latest accident-prevention kit including lane keep assist and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) as standard.
I tested a front-wheel drive CX-30 in mid-range Sport Lux trim, finished in eye-catching Machine Grey Metallic and fitted with the SkyActiv-X engine.
On paper it can sprint from 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 127mph, yet return up to 47.9mpg with admirably low CO2 emissions of just 105g/km.
There’s no doubting that the engine is very clever and refined. However, compared to the turbo units on the market, it does have to be worked hard to achieve anything like the acceleration figures quoted above. In short, it lacks the low-down grunt we’re used to these days, instead requiring higher revs to make decent progress.
Its saving grace is that Mazda makes some of the best manual gearboxes in the business and the CX-30’s in no exception.
Despite my hesitation about the engine, if you take it easy, it’s a joy and will reward you with smoothness and 40mpg+ fuel economy.
The CX-30 handles well. The ride is slightly on the firm side, but perfectly comfortable. Body control is admirable, and it could be even more fun if the engine was up for it. The steering is well-weighted and precise, and it’s easy to drive in town too.
Verdict: The all-new Mazda CX-30 is a stunning addition to the SUV scene. Plush, spacious, safe and refined, it offers huge kerb appeal, even if the drive isn’t quite as sporty as you might expect.