From £22,9308
Sweet handling and a plush interior help the stylish new Mazda CX-30 stand out as it touches down in the UK
Simon Davis
5 December 2019

What is it?

This new Mazda CX-30 could just be the best-looking compact SUV/crossover on sale today - depending on who you talk to, of course.

That it’s a looker doesn’t come as much of a surprise given that it’s based on the striking new 3 hatchback, and that Mazda has really had form on style since the introduction of its Kodo design philosophy. Its looks are important, too, because Mazda reckons the CX-30 is set to take on the likes of the ever-expanding, style-led, upmarket set of compact crossovers: the Audi Q2s and Lexus UXs of this world. On this evidence, the CX-30 is off to a flying start - particularly in Soul Red.

It arrives in the UK with a starting price of £22,895, a choice of two petrol engines and either a front-driven or all-wheel-drive set-up. The 118bhp SkyActiv-G represents the range entry-point, while the more powerful 178bhp SkyActiv-X sits above it. Both feature Mazda’s 24-volt mild-hybrid architecture.

But while the 120bhp version is the cheaper of the two, it’s the slightly pricier (roughly £1500 model-to-model) Skyactiv-X that’s expected to take the lion’s share of UK sales - some 70%, to be precise.

What's it like?

Having driven both engines back to back, it’s easy to see why the SkyActiv-X is angling to be the favourite here in Britain. The 118bhp engine is by all means a sweet little unit - being both responsive and refined - but it also feels a bit gutless.

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There’s very little torque low down, and any episodes of meaningful acceleration are always preceded by a need to frantically row your way down through the ratios on the standard-fit manual 'box. The fact that it’s a tactile, slick operator does help you forgive the engine’s lack of punch, but the need to constantly downshift does grate when you want to perform a swift overtaking manoeuvre on the motorway.

By comparison, the SkyActiv-X immediately feels far more muscular. There’s more readily available torque through the mid-range, and the rate at which it picks up pace is much more reassuring at open-road speeds; but as with its less-powerful counterpart it’s still not too keen on being revved all the way out. It’s also worth a mention that - next to some of the more conventional turbocharged engines you might find in its rivals - it still doesn’t feel quite as keen to get to work.

Still, in typical Mazda fashion the CX-30 marks itself out as one of the sweeter-to-drive cars in its class - despite Mazda itself claiming that it’s not really supposed to have too much of a sporting edge. Nevertheless, the weight of its steering is very well judged and impressively precise, while its front end changes direction with a dash more spriteliness than is normal in this sector. Body control is fairly tightly controlled too, while ride comfort is good enough to escape serious criticism. It certainly errs more towards the firm side of things, and isn’t immune to thumps and bumps, but it generally feels nicely settled and composed, and isn’t overly susceptible to agitation.

Interior space isn’t too flash, though. Those sat in the rear will find headroom is merely ok, while taller adults will inevitably have to straddle the front seatbacks to fit comfortably. Bootspace only comes in at 422 litres, which isn’t bad but not necessarily outstanding either. A Volkswagen T-Roc, by comparison, has 455 litres.

That said, like its 3 hatchback compatriot, the design appeal and material quality of the CX-30’s cabin is very impressive. It’s a clean, minimal aesthetic, and one that helps mark the Mazda out as one of the classier cars in its class - even against the likes of the BMW X2 or Audi Q2.

Should I buy one?

With the CX-30, Mazda has launched a genuinely impressive alternative to the likes of the more humdrum crossovers that seem to be so very popular in this day and age. It might not be perfect, but if it was between this and a Nissan Qashqai… Well, I know which of the two I’d go for.

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It’s easily one of the most entertaining cars to drive in its class. Even when driven at a moderate pace it has a sense of integrity about its controls and the way it moves that helps elevate it above the current crop of largely mundane, tedious family crossovers. And for that alone, it deserves a nod of approval.

Mazda CX-30 2.0 SkyActiv-X 2WD GT Sport

Where Devon, UK Price £28,875 On sale Now Engine 4 cyls inline, 1998cc, petrol Power 178bhp at 6000rpm Torque 165lb ft at 3000rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerb weight 1542kg Top speed 127mph 0-62mph 8.5sec Fuel economy 47.9mpg CO2 105g/km Rivals Volkswagen T-Roc, Toyota C-HR

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Comments
18

5 December 2019

Mazdas always seem to generate higher ratings than seem to be deserved reading the text in the reviews. Hmmm... ride a bit brittle, and an unimpressive engine = 4 stars.  

How much does Autocar make from advertising from each manufacturer? I think objectivity is being lost in the last few years.  

Nice interior though!

5 December 2019
Paul Dalgarno wrote:

Mazdas always seem to generate higher ratings than seem to be deserved reading the text in the reviews. Hmmm... ride a bit brittle, and an unimpressive engine = 4 stars.  

How much does Autocar make from advertising from each manufacturer? I think objectivity is being lost in the last few years.  

Nice interior though!

The ride is good according to the review as too is the engine though not as immediately responsive as turbo charged, well that's what I got from the review, that and it's excellent handling and premium quality interior(comparable with Audi and BMW equivalents)
To me this review justifies it's star rating though I do agree this is not always the case, especially with German brands.
I've never noticed Mazda getting over rated bit they are all good to drive which is a high priority in Autocar reviews.

bol

5 December 2019

I would really tire of all the conspiracy theorists who make the clever point that <insert brand> obviously buys their good reviews. I wonder if everyone who makes the suggestion thinks they're the first person to do so? 

5 December 2019

I know the CX-30 FWD has a torsion beam rear suspension but what does the 4WD get?

 

6 December 2019

Not sure what you were reading but the rating seems to match review to me!

6 December 2019
Paul Dalgarno wrote:

Mazdas always seem to generate higher ratings than seem to be deserved reading the text in the reviews. Hmmm... ride a bit brittle, and an unimpressive engine = 4 stars.  

How much does Autocar make from advertising from each manufacturer? I think objectivity is being lost in the last few years.  

Nice interior though!

 

Why should Autocar disclose confidential financial information that involves them and their advertisers?. If you don't like and/or approve of the magazine and the way it operates, simply desist reading it and go away.

FM8

7 December 2019
Takeitslowly wrote:

Paul Dalgarno wrote:

Mazdas always seem to generate higher ratings than seem to be deserved reading the text in the reviews. Hmmm... ride a bit brittle, and an unimpressive engine = 4 stars.  

How much does Autocar make from advertising from each manufacturer? I think objectivity is being lost in the last few years.  

Nice interior though!

 

Why should Autocar disclose confidential financial information that involves them and their advertisers?. If you don't like and/or approve of the magazine and the way it operates, simply desist reading it and go away.

Because it should remain impartial, if it isn't, the piece should be declared an advertorial and it's then the subject of regulation under the Advertising Standards Authority.

5 December 2019

I was going to hang off buying when I read about the CX-30 - sounded OK at first. The issue for me tho was like it's stablemates, it's a non-turbo petrol. Even if they did produce a half decent engine, I'm glad I didn't wait because if a T-Roc's boot was too small for my needs - this is smaller than a T-Roc ?  Jeez.  Beats me why CX-3 sells because it's nothing more than a 2+2, the CX-30 doesn't sound that much better.

If Mazda had offered a small petrol turbo in their CX-5, I'd have bought one.

5 December 2019
Personally I prefer naturally aspirated engines to turbo charged ones, I prefer their throttle response and linearity, be interesting to see a comparison test to show whether the smaller always on boost turbo is more economical than the larger na engine, co2 emissions are comparable with small turbos and I'd expect the na to be more economical, personally.

5 December 2019

Like all these mini SUV's

Take the badges off and how could you tell them apart?

Robbo

A view from Down Under

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