Mazda’s CX-30 is the car that no one really asked for, an SUV that sits between the established CX-3 and larger CX-5 models — neither small nor large but somewhere in between.
Although not quite as big, perhaps it can even be seen as a spiritual successor to the sporty CX-7 from a few years ago — or maybe that role will eventually be filled by something called the CX-50?
To draw a parallel, the BMW X6 was of course the answer to a question that no one ever asked . . . Like we said previously, Mazda seems to keep a close eye on what BMW is up to.
What’s it cost?
There’s four trim levels — Pure, Evolve, Touring and Astina — with 13 variations from which to choose.
Prices start from $29,990 for the front-wheel drive, 2.0-litre G20 Pure, while the 2.5-litre G25 Astina with all the bells and whistles goes for $43,490.
Our test vehicle this time around is the entry level G20 Pure, with the extra safety features of the $1500 Vision pack added that takes the price to $31,490 — all figures before on road costs.
Standard kit includes aircon, cloth trim, 16-inch alloys, push-button start, electric parking brake with auto hold, auto LED head and tail lights, auto high beam, auto wipers, rear park sensors, and auto up/down for all windows.
The 8.8-inch Mazda Connect infotainment system integrates satellite navigation as standard, plus digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with 8-speaker audio (but it’s not a touchscreen).
Standard safety systems include seven airbags including a driver’s knee bag, rear view camera, Active Driving Display (headup) Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Land Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Departure Assist (LDA), Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Smart Brake Support (SBS), Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR) and Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) with Stop & Go.
The Vision Technology pack as standard, which includes a 360 degree camera, Cruising & Traffic Support (CTS), Front Cross Traffic Alert (FCTA) and Driver Monitoring.
What’s it go like?
The 2.0-litre engine in the Pure produces 114kW of power and 200Nm at 4000 rpm, with 0-100km/h taking 10.2 seconds.
The 2.5-litre engine in contrast develops 139kW and 252Nm at the same 4000 rpm, with the dash taking only 8.7 seconds in front-wheel drive or 9.1 seconds with all-wheel drive.
The entire range comes with a 6-speed auto, with auto engine stop-start and steering wheel-mounted gear change paddles standard, apart from the Pure that is which misses out on the paddles.
Pure also dips out on the option of all-wheel drive.
The big difference between the performance of the two engines lies in the 52Nm deficit in torque of the smaller unit.
Torque is the stuff that gets you off the line in a hurry and up even the steepest hills without too much fuss.
When it is not engaged in either of these particular activities, it is more than adequate for the task.
With its elevated ride height, raised roofline and wide-opening front doors, CX-30 is a practical, easy to access and drive vehicle.
But getting in and out of the back, however, requires a little more agility, thanks to a sloping rear roofline, raised rear seat, and aforementioned lack of legroom.
Anyone who has anything to do with the current Mazda3 will find the cabin a familiar place to be.
Based on the Mazda3, the dash and switch gear are all a lift from the 3, including a configurable instrument panel that flips between analogue and digital speedos.
Push button start and an electric handbrake are standard, but the handbrake doesn’t seem to engage or disengage automatically — although it will engage if you put it in Park and stop the engine on a slope.
Not sure why all electric brakes in all cars don’t work this way – some seem to . . .
The cabin is very quiet, which makes discussion and talking on hands-free drama-free.
Ride and handling are excellent, with the help of torque vectoring, and the smaller wheels and chunkier 65 series tyres on this model cushion the ride better on secondary roads, compared with the 18s of more expensive models.
The thing is everyone to a tee always ticks the box for bigger, sexier looking wheels — so its pointless advice.
Acceleration isn’t this model’s strong suit, as we punt it hard off the line, with the engine revs reaching cataclysmic proportions.
Sport mode adds an edge, but the engine remains very busy if left in this mode and in the end we opted to turn it off.
With a 51-litre tank, CX-30 takes standard 91 unleaded and uses a claimed 6.5L/100km.
We were getting 7.6L/100km after more than 450km of mixed driving.
Funnily enough that’s the same figure as we got with the larger 2.5-litre engine.
What we like?
Quiet on the road
Biggish usable boot
Air vents for back seat passengers
Satellite navigation standard
Head up display
What we don’t like?
Needs more get up and go
Limited rear legroom
No speed camera warnings
Electric hand brake annoying
Space saver spare
Small hard to see steering wheel controls
The bottom line?
Don’t miss leather. Don’t miss climate air. But the basic polyurethane steering wheel feels a little cheap and nasty. The dash and console trim look low rent too, but only if you know what you’re missing out on. At least it gets alloys, unlike the CX-5 with its steel wheels when it first appeared. All in all though, it’s an impressive package for the price, with a strong safety story across the lineup.