The Mazda CX-30, which sits between the CX-3 and the CX-5 in terms of size, is another good-looking Mazda product, with decent economy for a compact SUV.
We already have the Mazda CX-3 SUV – although this was withdrawn from sale in the UK earlier in 2020, most likely due to not featuring the latest lowest emission engines – and we have the Mazda CX-5 SUV. However with a booming demand for SUVs, that’s not enough, so to slot between the two, we now have the… no, not the CX-4 – the CX-30.
We think that Mazda has some of the best-looking cars on sale of any manufacturer, and the CX-30 is no exception – especially when the full glare of the sun hits the Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint bodywork, which sits on 18-inch alloys. The interior is also a nice environment, with its fashionable minimalistic approach.
Under the bonnet of our test car was a 4-cylinder, 2-litre SKYACTIV-X petrol engine, mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, and all-wheel drive. Unlike virtually all of its rivals, there’s no turbo. But it does feature Mazda’s M (mild) Hybrid technology, which uses a small generator to capture energy that is normally wasted during braking and uses it to assist the engine.
The CX-30 sits between the CX-3 and the CX-5 in terms of size and space: the CX-3 is 4,280mm in length, with a 350-litre boot; the CX-30 is 4,395mm long, with a 422-litre boot; and the CX-5 is 4,550mm long, with a 506-litre boot. The CX-30 is also more ‘SUV-like’ in shape than the CX-3, which has more of a crossover appearance.
We like the way that most Mazdas drive, as they generally feel like more of a direct driving experience than many rivals. However the CX-3 has a reasonably firm ride, so the improved ride quality of the CX-30 is welcome, especially on our terrible urban road surfaces – and it helps to make it feel more ‘SUV-like’.
Overall the CX-30 is fun to drive, with the more forgiving suspension helping to make it feel more agile than the CX-3.
Our test car also had all-wheel drive, which gave it lots of traction, and avoided any front-wheel drive wheelspin or understeer.
The 4-cylinder, 2-litre SKYACTIV-X petrol engine provided sufficient rather than abundant performance, with a lot of changing down of the slick 6-speed manual gearbox being required to maintain progress up hills.
However this engine shared a common characteristic with many other engines since the new WLTP economy and emission test was introduced – there’s a flat spot when you start off at low revs. In the case of the Mazda, this can’t be turbo lag, because there’s no turbo.
Mazda’s infomedia system, which feels like it’s been modelled on BMW’s iDrive technology, with a rotary dial and shortcut buttons to control the touchscreen, is very good, however the touchscreen itself has very shallow ‘letterbox’ proportions, which means that you can’t see much of your route far ahead on the satnav.
Mazdas have been excellent in recent years giving you a switch to turn off annoying lane departure warning systems once and for all, however disappointingly it appears that there’s no such ability to do this in the CX-30.
You also have to release the electronic handbrake every time you start off, and if you unlock the car, then open the boot, the car then re-locks itself, which can become tiresome.
The official WLTP combined fuel economy for the Mazda CX-30 2.0 180ps AWD GT Sport Tech is 43.5mpg, with CO2 emissions of 111g/km. This is decent for a compact petrol SUV, and is an indication that the SKYACTIV-X petrol engine is more focused on economy and emissions than performance. After a week of mixed real-world driving we averaged 37.2mpg. The CX-30 was displaying a driving range of 340 miles on a full tank.
The Mazda CX-30 2.0 180ps AWD GT Sport Tech costs £31,995. Our test car had the options of Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint (£790) and Stone Leather interior (£200), taking the total price of our test car to £32,985. The CX-30 is available with SKYACTIV-G and SKYACTIV-X petrol engines, front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and CX-30 trim levels are SE-L, SE-L Lux, Sport Lux, GT Sport and the top of the range GT Sport Tech, as tested. Prices start at £22,940.
The Mazda CX-30 has a Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax liability for 2020/21 of 35%, which is high – especially bearing in mind that pure electric cars have a 0% rate.
The Mazda CX-30 looks good inside and out, and drives well overall – helped by a more comfortable ride than the Mazda CX-3. For a petrol-engined car in this class, it offers decent economy, but the performance can only be described as sufficient. Our top of the range GT Sport Tech, with all-wheel drive, was a very nice car to live with, and because it’s a compact SUV, it’s practical, and this is a body style that is in demand by car buyers. The Mazda CX-30 2.0 180ps AWD GT Sport Tech gains a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.