So impressed by the new Mazda3, we named it the “manufacturer’s best” when we drove it for the first time at the beginning of the year. The only problem? It isn’t crossover, and for some reason UK drivers seem to rather like those.
Perhaps, then, that is why Mazda decided to build the CX-30; as a sort of halfway house between the 3 and CX-5.
In keeping with Mazda’s driver focus, the CX-30 is one of those lower-riding and more car-like crossovers, a bit like the BMW X2. It’s not as practical as a proper SUV but its sleeker body should provide greater handling and efficiency.
We were impressed by the CX-30’s on-road manners during our testing. It really does drive like a regular Mazda3; i.e. really well.
There are levels of detail in its design that other manufacturers simply don’t address. The dashboard and door panels, for example, are styled to line up with the road markings, tricking your subconscious into taking a better road position.
The weighting of the pedals, steering and gear lever is perfectly balanced, and the driving position is optimised to provide comfort, but also make the driver feel at one with the car. It sounds a bit like marketing fluff, but ,on the road, it really is apparent.
What soured the experience for us, somewhat, is the engine line-up. There are two petrols and one diesel available.
The Skyactiv-G petrol is a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated unit with 122PS. Despite its large capacity, the powertrain feels lethargic and fails to deliver the low-down punch that these heavier crossovers require to really get moving.
The 1.8-litre diesel is more suited to everyday driving, although Mazda only expects it to account for a small proportion of sales. Both engines have CO2 emissions from 116g/km meaning running costs are similar.
You will also be able to order the CX-30 with Mazda’s new Skyactiv-X petrol engine. It’s packed with clever technology that is meant to give it the fuel economy of a diesel and the performance and refinement of a petrol. Our first experience of the powertrain left us underwhelmed, though. It needs to be worked hard, which is fine in a car like the MX-5, but not the ticket in a family crossover.
Mazda hasn’t confirmed the final specs of the engine yet, but in the 3 it offers CO2 emissions of 96g/km, making it a more attractive fleet choice.
The interior has a premium feel and the refinement levels are among the best out there. There is plenty of room for four adults inside, too.
Pricing has not been announced yet. In fact, the CX-30 won’t be available in the UK until the end of the year, but we’d expect a £2,000-£3,000 uplift on the current Mazda3’s prices, meaning it will be priced to compete with the likes of the Škoda Karoq.
The CX-30 may not be the obvious choice, but it has a lot of positive attributes. While the Skyactiv-X feels a little lacking in oomph, it’s still significantly more powerful than the downsized turbo-petrol motors used in rival models and should provide similar running costs.