Mazda CX-30 SUV (2019 - ) review

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The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.0

The CX-30 is a good-looking car in an SUV market that rewards style, so that alone should attract plenty of interest. It’s not quite as dynamic and fun to drive as the Mazda badge might have suggested, but it is very well put together and comfortable, and is still a decent behind-the-wheel experience. It also comes with plenty of trim choices and standard equipment, which means you can get quite a bit of car for your money.

Pros

  • Suave looks
  • Comfortable ride
  • Well-equipped

Cons

  • No diesel option
  • Engines lack punch
  • Not that sharp to drive

Interested in buying a Mazda CX-30?

How good does it look? 5/5

The looks of the CX-30 split the car almost in two, with sleek, curvaceous surfaces on top and black cladding beneath, emphasising the SUV looks. Whether a car looks good or not is down to the beholder, but Mazda has put a lot of effort into making the CX-30 beautiful, and it certainly stands out.

There are five trim levels to choose from, all of which have alloy wheels. The SE-L is the entry-level model, and has 16-inch wheels and LED headlights, as has the SE-L Lux which adds an electric boot lid. The Sport Lux has 18-inch wheels, upgraded headlights and a black shiny front grille, as well as privacy glass in the rear windows, as do the GT Sport and GT Sport Tech models, which also have extra features inside.

What's the interior like? 4/5

The interior of the CX-30 has a distinctly premium feel, with a smart, sophisticated design, nice materials and solid build quality. The seating position is quite low for an SUV – you could easily think you were in a hatchback – but there’s a good amount of adjustment on both seat and steering column to get your preferred position.

Infotainment services come through a screen on top of the dashboard, which is wide but not very tall, so seems a little small compared with those of some rivals. It’s operated via a dial between the front seats, rather than a touchscreen, and we’ve found it quick and easy to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included on all models, as is satellite-navigation.

How practical is it? 3/5

There’s a reasonable - if not spectacular - amount of space in the CX-30. Rear headroom is plentiful for tall adults, but if you’ve got tall people in the front, the rear seat passengers might find legroom is a bit tight. The boot, at 430 litres (or 422 if you opt for the Bose stereo), is a reasonable size, bigger than Toyota’s C-HR but not quite as big as the Volkswagen T-Roc and some way behind cars like the Skoda Karoq and Seat Ateca (although while those could be considered rivals, they are bigger vehicles than the Mazda). There are plenty of storage spaces around the car, including large door pockets, a space under the centre arm rest and cupholders ahead of the gearstick.

What's it like to drive? 4/5

The CX-30 has a comfortable ride that massages the worst out of most road imperfections, and it’s impressively quiet at motorway speeds, too. The handling assessment will depend on what you’re expecting. Mazda has a history of cars that are exciting to drive, but if you expect lots of smiles from behind the wheel of the CX-30 then you might be left a bit cold, as it’s not as sharp and nippy as something like Seat’s Ateca. That’s not to say it’s bad though: the steering is direct enough and the car feels planted, solid, composed through the bends. It just lacks that edge of entertainment, but if that’s not a priority for you then you shouldn’t feel short-changed.

How powerful is it? 3/5

There’s no diesel for the CX-30, so the choice of engines is between two petrols. While most of the industry is chasing better fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions by making smaller engines and putting turbochargers on them, Mazda has gone a different way, and has instead worked to refine its non-turbo, 2.0-litre engines. The first of them is called the Skyactiv-G and has 122 horsepower. It’s not bad, although it needs to be worked quite hard to get the most out of it, with most of the power coming at higher revs.

The second is a new engine called Skyactiv-X, which has 180 horsepower and a lot of unconventional engineering inside it. Mazda claims it offers the performance and fuel economy of a diesel at the price of a petrol, but that’s overstating it. It does have more punch at low revs than the Skyactiv-G, even when you factor in the power differences, but it’s not as peppy as the small turbo engines used by rivals. It’s a bit lumpy in its delivery, too, and again, most of the power comes at higher revs. The Skyactiv-X isn’t much more expensive than the Skyactiv-G, and it’s the engine we’d recommend, but don’t expect miracles from it.

Both engines come either with an excellent six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic, which is also pretty good. They’re also available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, but from a driving perspective there’s little difference between the two.

How much will it cost me? 3/5

We don’t yet have data on the predicted running costs and resale values for the CX-30, so it’s hard to give a definitive verdict right now. Looking at the purchase prices, though, the CX-30 looks to compare well to rivals like the Volkswagen T-Roc and Toyota C-HR, and even more so when you consider the amount of standard equipment in the Mazda. CO2 levels are impressively low in the CX-30, which should make for cheaper company car tax, although fuel consumption levels look to be similar to the rivals when you factor in differences in power.

How reliable is it? 3/5

Mazda has a so-so reputation for reliability. As the CX-30 is new we don’t have any historic reliability data, but as a brand Mazda sits just below the industry average score in JD Power’s 2019 Vehicle Dependability Study, which ranks the major manufacturers. That continues a drop in performance from 2017 and 2018. Should anything go wrong with your CX-30, Mazda offers a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, which is pretty standard for the industry but not as good as the five-year warranty that Toyota offers on the C-HR.

How safe is it? 4/5

The CX-30 hasn’t yet been tested by safety organisation Euro NCAP, but based on the performance of Mazda’s other SUVs – the CX-3 and the CX-5 – and the Mazda3, with which this car shares a lot of parts, we’d be surprised if it doesn’t score the maximum five stars.

All cars come with automatic emergency braking, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross traffic alert, which will let you know if a vehicle is approaching when you’re reversing out of a parking space. Front, side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags are standard, and there are Isofix child seat mounting points on the outer rear seats.

How much equipment do I get? 5/5

Mazda likes to put plenty of equipment in its cars and keep optional extras to a minimum, but with five trim levels there’s still a good choice of price and spec. The SE-L model has cloth upholstery, air-conditioning, rear parking sensors and keyless start, as well as a head-up display, which is rare and impressive on an entry-level car at this price. You also get adaptive cruise control.

Upgrade to the SE-L Lux and you’ll get keyless entry, heated front seats and front parking sensors, as well as dual-zone air-conditioning, while Sport Lux gives you the exterior upgrades mentioned above.

GT Sport will give you black leather upholstery and an upgraded 12-speaker Bose sound system, while GT Sport Tech adds a 360-degree view monitor for ease of maneuvering, and some extra safety and driver assistance systems.

Why buy? 4/5

The CX-30 is a car for people that want a suave-looking, comfortable SUV with an excellent quality interior and very decent driving manners. It also fits into a niche between small and mid-size SUVs, so could be just the thing for people that want to maximise space without have a large vehicle. Well worth looking at.

Interested in buying a Mazda CX-30?