Motoring and Property Editor
8:29 AM 7th December 2019
Mazda CX-30 First Drive
An all-new SUV from Mazda was good enough reason for me to hop on a plane to Exeter. The promise of some great driving roads, a comfortable hotel and a breath of sea air were an added bonus.
Despite a definite drop in new car sales in the UK, Mazda has managed to buck the trend and has seen a 4% increase in sales since April 2019. Global sales are up too for the Japanese manufacturer, so they must be doing something right!
The SUV is now king, and more UK buyers choose to join this happy band than now buy a conventional hatch. It was only a matter of time…
Mazda is already well served by the CX-3 and CX-5 models so is the ‘30’ strictly necessary? The simple answer is an emphatic yes, but with very little size difference between the models, I suspect the newbie will now be the best seller.
Mazda has already committed to developing the next generation of clean diesel engines for appropriate sectors, but demand for diesel in more compact SUV models has diminished to such an extent that the CX-30 will be exclusively petrol-powered.
This will be no hardship as Mazda’s Skyactiv-X spark-controlled compression ignition engine aims to deliver diesel-like economy, with the promise of up to 47.9mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 105g/km. It’s a powerful engine too, with 180PS and capable of accomplishing the 0-62mph sprint in 8.5 seconds in front-wheel drive form.
It’s not all good news as I found out on some of the hillier sections of our test route. Lacking the more familiar turbocharger, the normally aspirated 2.0-litre motor needs plenty of revs to maintain brisk progress, to the detriment of the car’s overall economy.
The slick six-speed gearbox and light clutch are a pleasure to use, so nipping up and down the gearbox to make the most of the engine’s power is never a chore.
Also powering the CX-30 is a 122PS Skyactiv-G engine, which boasts a mild-hybrid system to aid emissions and economy (from 116g/km CO2). It proved to be around 4mpg less economical than the ‘X’ and did not feel a whole lot less powerful either. Drive both before committing to the additional £1,500 or so required for the ‘X’ engine.
An all-wheel drive option is available for rural dwellers, with a modest effect on economy and emissions. An hour or so behind the wheel on wet roads was not enough to form any conclusions. I suspect take up will be modest.
The new CX-30 is the second model in the company’s next generation line-up and follows the launch of the all-new Mazda3 earlier this year. There’s a touch of coupe styling, especially when viewed in profile, yet beneath that svelte exterior lies a cabin with room for four adults to spread.
Five trim levels are offered, with even the range-opening SE-L boasting plenty of kit. Highlights include a useful head-up display, LED headlights and radar cruise control. Satellite navigation and air conditioning make the list too.
Spend more and such luxuries as leather upholstery and snazzy alloy wheels will be available.
Immediately apparent once behind the wheel is the comfort of the seats, the quality of the trim materials and the premium feel to the main controls. It’s Mazda’s best interior yet and will help them poach sales from the premium German manufacturers.
A little time spent at motorway speeds showed that wind and road noise are conspicuous by their absence, making the CX-30 an excellent long-distance cruiser.
The challenging roads of Dartmoor beckoned, a chance to test out the ride and handling. Body roll is well contained and the ride cosseting even on some of the more pockmarked road. The chassis engineers have undoubtedly done a good job and I am sure that most CX-30 buyers will be delighted.
So, what price this refined and engaging SUV? Prices start at £22,895, reasonably competitive considering the level of standard equipment, and for those with the deepest pockets, the range tops out at £33,495.
I’d pick the simple SE-L spec and merely decide which engine will best suit. I would be quite happy with the Skyactiv -G, but I suspect that ‘X’ marks the sweet spot. Mazda seem to think so and they probably know better than me.
Priced from £22,895 to £33,495
26 models, available to order now
5 trims from SE-L to top GT Sport Tech
Choice of 2 Skyactiv petrol engines, no diesel
Up to 47.9mpg
CO2 emissions from as low as 105g/km
Optional i-Activ all-wheel drive