MAZDA CX-30

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

TRENT GIUNCO

NEWBIE FINDS ITS PLACE IN GRAND PLAN

W HY DOES the Mazda CX-30 exist? Great question. And the answer is found within Mazda’s SUV hierarchy. Long story short, the CX-30 nestles into a gap in the Japanese marque’s range between the smaller CX-3 and larger CX-5.

There are four variant grades (Pure, Evolve, Touring and Astina), two engines at launch (2.0-litre and 2.5-litre fourcylinder petrols) as well as front- and all-wheel drive. Prices range from $29,990 for the base-level G20 Pure FWD to $43,490 for the top-spec G25 Astina AWD. A SkyActiv-X unit is slated for late this year.

We’ve spent time in the G25 Astina FWD already (see Garage, p102), so we’re zeroing in on the mid-spec $34,990 G20 Touring FWD here.

Inside, Mazda’s premium push is evident. It might be an almost carbon copy of the 3, but the materials used remain rich in colour and pleasingly tactile. The 8.8-inch infotainment screen feels at home within the design and the climate controls scream quality. The head-up display is crystal clear and there are a host of standard safety features.

The driving position is low-slung, exacerbated by a rather high waistline – it feels like a raised hatchback. While it looks bigger than the 3, the CX-30’s wheelbase is actually 65mm shorter. As a result, rear-seat knee- and toe-room is tighter than expected, while headroom can be described as adequate. Boot space is on the smaller side at 317 litres.

Under the bonnet it’s more about the mechanical status quo given SkyActiv-X is yet to arrive. The G20 is endowed with 114kW and 200Nm, but both figures are produced high in the rev range (6000rpm and 4000rpm respectively). And while the FWD CX-30 isn’t a porker at 1339kg, the 2.0-litre needs a thorough accelerator prod for fast progress. Mazda counters this by claiming this atmo unit returns better real-world fuel figures than a torque-rich small-capacity turbo.

In reality all is okay, as the 1998cc powerplant spins freely. But it is vocal while doing so and few will see the claimed 6.5L/100km.

While the CX-30 uses the Mazda 3’s next-gen SkyActiv-infused platform as a base, it isn’t quite a jacked-up hatchback in terms of dynamics. On smooth surfaces there’s a level of body control and eagerness, while road noise and NVH levels are well suppressed.

However, it uses all of its suspension travel through big undulations and there isn’t enough control on rebound. Ride quality on the 18-inch alloys is fussy over close-knit imperfections, but drive sedately and it’s a more than competent package.

This is an SUV with desirability and a level of luxury that embarrasses more fancied badges. For an SUV that could have easily slipped through the cracks within the Mazda line-up, it seems the CX-30’s place is, as they say, just right.

TRENT GIUNCO

Model Mazda CX-30 G20 Touring 

Engine 1998cc in-line 4cyl, dohc, 16v

Max power 114kW @ 6000rpm 

Max torque 200Nm @ 4000rpm 

Transmission 6-speed automatic

Weight 1339kg 0-100km/h 10.2sec

Economy 6.5L/100km 

Price $34,990

On sale Now

PLUS

Striking design; equipment levels; positive ownership proposition

MINUS

Suspension firm on Aussie roads; getting expensive; no SkyActiv-X yet