IN-BETWEENY SLOTS INTO A SWEET SPOT
SHORT AND relatively sweet is the best way to describe my experience with the latest addition to the Wheels long-term garage.
Joining the fleet this month is a Mazda CX-30. A G25 Astina FWD, to be precise. We have become well acquainted with the Mazda 3 hatch on which it’s largely based, having run one as a long-termer late last year, and now it’s time to see if this highly anticipated model can replicate the experience enjoyed by Trent.
The CX-30 should retain the values that earned the Mazda 3 a top-three place at Wheels Car of the Year 2020, but there are some key differences with this model, namely the G20 specification that brings with it the smaller-capacity engine.
I am but a temporary custodian, though, because Andy Enright takes the keys from next month.
Built as the Goldilocks proposition to sit between the popular CX-3 and CX-5 models, the CX-30 fits neatly in that niche in every dimension. This has benefits, with the nimble hatchlike ability and manoeuvrability of the CX-3 retained, while adding vital millimetres to the interior space and litres to the boot.
But don’t be lulled into believing that this makes the CX-30 a load-lugger – it is based on the Mazda 3 hatch, after all. No, this remains a style-driven vehicle that forgoes some utilitarian practicality for dashing good looks.
Mazda’s ‘fluid’ design language is on full display with the CX-30, and I think it works well. The little Mazda stands out even when rubbing shoulders with more expensive European offerings in the leafy innercity suburbs of Melbourne.
The cabin is beautifully presented – and to think this isn’t even the top spec – with every touch point a testimony to well thought-out design and placement.
At a time when car makers across the pricing spectrum are moving to bigger touchscreens inside their cabins, Mazda has made the interesting choice to move the screen further away from the driver, effectively out of fingerprodding range. To me, that’s a good thing because, while the screen (nontouch in this case) is further away, it is closer to your eyeline when driving.
I find a touchscreen system more distracting to use than Mazda’s rotarydial set-up. It avoids a bugbear of mine, which is having to use a touchscreen for a function that should be a button – particularly climate control.
Not all of Mazda’s technological advancements had me smiling, though. While a full suite of safety functions comes as standard on the CX-30, their functionality isn’t as refined as you’ll find in its competitors.
The blindspot monitoring caught my ire in particular, being triggered by a particularly high kerb, as well as parked cars. These false positives are annoying both in their intrusive tone and in the way they erode confidence in such an important safety system.
But kudos to the active cruise control, which is calibrated in such a way that it feels natural in how it builds and removes speed on a relatively quiet freeway.
The CX-30 kicked off its stay with us by returning 9.7L/100km from a single tank. It’s not bad, but certainly not great. The atmo four-pot requires a deft right foot off the line to prevent the revs from flaring if you want to get away from a standstill with a minor sense of urgency.
Will the CX-30 enjoy a rosy sheen at the end of its tenure in our long-term stable? I’ll defer to Enright to decide that in a couple of months.
Entering a new vehicle is always followed by the same process. Fix the seating position, adjust the steering wheel and tweak the mirrors to be just-so. Sliding into the CX-30’s driver’s seat was no different. Pleased by the natural and comfortable seating position and wheel placement, I turned my attention to the mirrors. It was then I noticed that, like most other Mazdas, the driver-side mirror on the CX-30 has significant magnification. Not a major issue, but something that requires a mental recalibration to realise that Kia hasn’t released an XXL special edition Picanto just yet…
Price as tested: $41,490
This month: 497km @ 9.7L/100km