Mazda CX-30 first drive

Mazda may only have a small car line-up, but it covers a lot of bases. Looking to fill in a potential gap in its family SUV range, Mazda now offers the CX-30, a crossover that sits between the CX-3 and CX-5 models. Featuring Mazda’s latest engines, the new model looks to add SUV benefits to a family-sized hatchback.

Review by Chris Lilly


Mazda’s recently been able to launch its Skyactiv-X engine, which combines the torque and fuel economy associated with diesels and the refinement and power of petrol units. It’s an excellent engine, and will be picked by a large number of buyers, with 180hp available from 2.0 litres in this guise. The naturally-aspirated unit can need revving harder than what has now become familiar in the largely turbo-powered petrol world of family cars, but it’s a punchy and smooth engine on the whole. The other option is Mazda’s Skyactive-G petrol engine, with 122hp on tap. It’s a conventional petrol engine at heart, though both the units available in the CX-30 use mild hybrid technology to help emissions. It will be a good bet for those rarely covering long distances, and the six-speed manual gearbox available on either is up to Mazda’s usual excellent standard. There are also the options between two- and all-wheel drive, and the availability of an automatic transmission.


Mazda has a well deserved reputation for building dynamically engaging cars, and the CX-30 doesn’t let the side down in the least. It’s got SUV styling details, but doesn’t sit all that much higher than the Mazda 3 conventional hatchback. As such, buyers get a car that can be enjoyed on a twisty road, but one that also deals well with more conventional routes. Motorways shows the CX-30’s refinement well, and it cruises comfortably at speed. Likewise, the chassis and suspension deal well with urban roads, and its agility proves a bonus in tight streets. It handles far more like a crossover than a full-blown SUV, which will appeal to a number of buyers. You get much of the higher seating position, but without as much detriment to handling and efficiency that a weightier car brings. The CX-30 is one of the best handling models in its class - something that we should have expected before even driving it, but it’s great to know Mazda’s engineers haven’t let us down.


The Kodo design language found across the Mazda range is simply superb by my reckoning. To find such stylish, elegant, and interesting to look at cars from a mainstream manufacturer. -albeit one pushing to premium territory - is great news for those that enjoy cars. The CX-30 fits in nicely with the ethos, essentially a blend of Mazda 3 and CX-5, which is where the car’s positioned in the portfolio. The interior is as practical as you would expect, with an ability to seat four adults easily, or five over shorter trips. Boot space is good, and the load area is a practical shape. Neither rear occupant space nor the boot are class leading, but they’re practical enough for most requirements.


Mazda CX-30 interior

Like the exterior, the CX-30’s interior is lovely to look at. Fortunately, it’s also a great place in which to sit, with some excellent materials fitted. Mazda is a manufacturer that looks to bridge the gap between mainstream and premium models, and it means interiors like the CX-30’s are created. It’s easy to use, and although not as covered with large screens as rival offerings, this means it retains an impression that here is a car focused on the driver. Clear dials, a simple but lovely steering wheel, and intuitive infotainment control system are all features that need to be used to be appreciated. None are ground-breaking, but the way in which things have been designed and built shows some serious thought has been put into the CX-30.


The CX-30 has a set of decent fuel economy figures available from its engines. Fuel economy gets as good as 47.9 MPG for the Skyactiv-X and 45.6 MPG for the Skyactiv-G. Both are relatively attainable too, if test drives are anything to go by. CO2 emissions are rated at 133 g/km and 141 g/km respectively. There’s clearly not too much to chose between the engines, so buyers will be best placed picking on respective strengths and costs rather than fuel efficiency.


Mazda’s principles mean that cars should be lightweight and engines should be ‘right-sized’ so they don’t strain to get the car moving. This means it doesn’t have the same headline efficiency figures some manufacturers can offer, but in real-world driving, it is often easier to get close to the test results in a Mazda than in rival models. Mazda has started incorporating mild hybrid technology in its engine range, which sees a beefed-up starter motor able to restart the engine in stop/start conditions, and briefly fill in a torque gap at very low revs. It can’t drive the car on electric power alone, but the system sees conventional petrol (or diesel in other cases) engines improve economy scores with little additional engineering. The Skyactiv-G engines also get cylinder deactivation technology.


Five trim levels are available, with all featuring plenty of kit. Entry-level SE-L models get 16-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, radar cruise control, head-up display, automatic wipers and lights, an excellent set of safety systems, and an 8.8-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, navigation, and DAB. SE-L Lux adds a powered tailgate, climate control, keyless entry, reversing camera, and front parking sensors. Sport Lux includes 18-inch alloys, adaptive headlights, and sunroof, whilst GT Sport and GT Sport Tech add powered driver’s seat heated steering wheel, Bose stereo, and 360-degree camera.


It might have seen like Mazda was cramming a car into a niche with the CX-30, but it actually plugs a gap that will appeal to a great number of buyers. The CX-30 drives well, looks great, has a strong engine line-up, and is available in all-wheel drive. It’s a classy proposition in an increasingly important sector.

Mazda CX-30 rear

Model tested: Mazda CX-30
Body-style: Crossover
Engine / CO2: 2.0 litre petrol engines / from 133 g/km
Trim grades: SE-L, SE-L Lux, Sport Lux, GT Sport, GT Sport Tech

On-road price: From £22,895.
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:11th Dec 2019

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