Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
None of the CX-30’s engines offer the low-rev flexibility of the turbocharged engines of its rivals, such as the Karoq and Ateca. Of the engines available, the 178bhp Skyactiv-X is the better option because it’s stronger than the 120bhp Skyactiv-G at low revs, as well as being punchier when you rev it out. The differences aren’t night and day, despite the headline power figures, so it’s worth taking a test-drive in both.
The optional six-speed automatic gearbox is fairly responsive, particularly in Sport mode, in which it responds to kickdown demands more immediately. Because both CX-30 engines have a mild hybrid system that gives you a little boost when setting off from a standstill, automatic CX-30s aren’t plagued by the annoying delay you get when you press the accelerator in a Range Rover Evoque.
Suspension and ride comfort
Scarred urban roads cause the CX-30 to fidget while potholes thud through your seat. There’s no doubt that the Karoq is better at cushioning you from bumps.
The good news is that, over undulating roads taken at speed, there’s no float or wallow to cause passengers to feel carsick. As is our usual advice, avoiding the larger alloy wheels takes the edge off some of the bumpiness.
Although the steering doesn't feel particularly quick off-centre, it’s precise and has a reassuring weight that builds progressively as you increase your cornering speed. The CX-30 proves happy to scythe through twists and turns, with minimal body lean, and initially feels more of a driver's car than a Nissan Qashqai.
Noise and vibration
The Mazda’s 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engines are smoother and quieter than the three-cylinder engines offered in the Karoq and Ateca.
Wind and road noise are also well contained, although you do hear the odd thump and thud from the rear suspension over bumps. Even so, the CX-30 is a quiet place in which to rack up the miles.
The main controls, such as the clutch, accelerator and gearlever are set in such a way that it’s easy to drive the CX-30 smoothly in traffic. The manual gearbox has a short action and a delightfully mechanical feel that makes you want to use it – handy, given how hard the engines need to be worked.