Driving position and dashboard
Mazda has paid close attention to passenger comfort, and it shows. A wide range of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel means tall and short drivers alike will be able to get comfortable. The only fly in the ointment is that adjustable lumbar support is reserved for the two top trim levels.
In an age of ever-larger and more complicated touchscreens taking care of even basic controls, the CX-30 is a breath of fresh air. You get good old-fashioned buttons and knobs for the heating and stereo, so you can operate everything by touch once you’ve familiarised yourself with them. That means you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.
Part-digital dials are standard on all models. They don’t have the configurability of fully digital dashboards available from Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen, but they are crisp and easy to read. Handier is the inclusion of a clear head-up display that puts speed, sat-nav instructions and other data in your line of sight.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
If you’re hoping for a lofty driving position, you're likely to be disappointed. Although you can raise the seat up pretty high, the CX-30 just isn’t as tall as most rivals, feeling more like a slightly lifted hatchback.
At least the view out isn’t too shabby. The front pillars could be a little thinner to help when pulling out of junctions, but its rear pillars are by no means the thickest in the class. Meanwhile, the rear screen is reasonably tall for a decent view backwards.
All models get rear parking sensors, while front sensors and a reversing camera are standard on all but the entry-level trim. There’s also a bird-eye-view camera for an overview of your surroundings when manoeuvring; It works very well but is only available on the top-spec trim.
Sat nav and infotainment
The Mazda CX-30’s infotainment system eschews the touchscreen interface that most of its rivals employ – a design decision made on the grounds that such systems can be distracting to use while driving. We tend to agree with that, so it's nice to see that all CX-30s come with a centrally mounted 8.8in infotainment display operated by an intuitive rotary controller, the latter being mounted between the front seats along with shortcut buttons.
Compared with the dashboard-dominating touchscreens of the Skoda Karoq, Seat Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan, the rotary controller makes it easier to scroll through lists and menus on the move, and Mazda's software is just as responsive and easy to navigate.
The infotainment system also comes with an impressive array of features. All models get DAB radio, Bluetooth, sat-nav and smartphone mirroring via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The standard eight-speaker sound system is impressive enough, but a more powerful 12-speaker Bose setup is available in higher trims. We just wish there were a few more USB ports up front and at least one (ideally two) for rear seat passengers.
We’re not going to beat around the bush: at the expected entry-level price of the CX-30, no other SUV comes close to its classy solidity. Indeed, you have to jump up to a BMW X1 or Volvo XC40 to get a similar level of plushness.
The dashboard is slathered in squishy, expensive looking plastics and there’s lashings of leatherette in a choice of two colours as well. Add some classy chrome trim into the mix and it’s a fine place to be. Yes, there are hard plastics lower down, but the standards are still very high when you consider the price.
Play with the switches, stalks and knobs and you’ll find they all click, turn and move with an expensive feel as well. Only the top of the infotainment controller looks a little cheap, but even then it feels great to use.