Mazda CX-30 long-term test review: report 1

The new Mazda CX-30 is the first coupe-styled SUV the company has ever made, but do its rakish looks compromise its family friendly practicality? We're finding out...

Mazda CX-30 long-term test review

The car Mazda CX-30 2.0 180PS 2WD GT Sport Run by Alastair Clements, special contributor

Why it’s here Slotting in between the smaller CX-3 and the family-friendly CX-5, the new CX-30 offers plenty of style, but can it be as practical as the best family SUVs?

Needs to Blend style with a rewarding driving experience and enough practicality to justify its purchase over more conventional rivals

Miles covered 5219 Price £29,140 Target Price £28,346 Price as tested £29,930 Official economy 47.9mpg Test economy 31.6mpg Options fitted  Soul Red Crystal Metallic Paint (£790)

6 September 2020 – The Mazda CX30 joins our fleet

The term ‘SUV’ is bandied about endlessly these days, but I wonder how many of us are truly aware of its origins. Coined to separate a new, more road-friendly breed of rugged, practical cars from the military and agricultural machines that spawned them, the original ‘Sport Utility Vehicles’ were designed to be as at home lugging haybales around the farm on your country estate as they were ferrying you into the capital for an evening performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

But the world has moved on since the days of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer and the original two-door Range Rover, and today the ‘SUV’ tag is applied to anything from the tiny Skoda Kamiq to the behemoth Rolls-Royce Cullinan.

Mazda CX-30 long-term test review

A relatively recent addition to the genre is the ‘Coupé-SUV’, beloved by premium brands for cars such as the Audi Q8, the BMW X6 and the Mercedes GLC Coupé. And while my new Mazda CX-30 doesn't have quite as rakish a roofline as these cars, it's still a very stylish thing indeed.

As one friend suggested, if you took away the badges you could quite easily mistake it for a new baby Jaguar to slot in beneath the E-Pace, particularly around the tail-lights. If anything, I think its sharp lines combined with the chunky plastic wheelarch protectors make it look even better than the Jaguar – especially in the optional Soul Red metallic paint of my high-spec GT Sport model.

Mazda CX-30 long-term test review

At just shy of £30,000 in 2.0-litre Skyactiv X form, this trim level is not a cheap way into owning a CX-30, but it’s absolutely loaded with kit, from the brilliant head-up display (which projects your speed onto the windscreen) to the electric tailgate, rear camera and 12-speaker Bose sound system.

The interior has a nicely premium feel, too, with quality leather in black with brown accents (which looks a lot nicer than it sounds) and a sweeping dashboard. It's well finished and so far it all feels impressively screwed together, and the controller for the infotainment system, sited between the front seats, is brilliantly intuitive to use.

Mazda CX-30 long-term test review

As is often the case with Mazdas, the CX-30 is great to drive, too. The steering is alert, the handling remarkably agile for an SUV and the short-throw manual gearbox a joy to hustle through its six ratios – which is fortunate, because even with 2.0 litres you find yourself using it a lot to keep the engine performing at its best.

According to the brochure, there’s 178bhp and 165lb ft of torque on offer, but unless you are happy revving it hard all the time you won’t be threatening many hot hatches away from the lights. I’m also struggling to discover the benefits of the mild-hybrid technology; fuel consumption around town in particular doesn't seem all that impressive, but hopefully that’s something that will improve over the coming months.

Mazda CX-30 long-term test review

Some testers, our own included, have criticised the CX-30’s ride, and it’s true that around town it can be rather knobbly, but I never find it uncomfortable and the payoff is impressive body control when you want to exploit the car's cross-country ability. And once up to speed on the motorway, refinement is excellent; the ride settles down over all bar the bigger bumps, and the engine becomes almost eerily subdued.

Less impressive is the practicality. The boot is a pretty snug 422 litres, and feels like a lot less with the false floor in place – though the latter does create a completely flat load lip. Space in the back is pretty limited, too, particularly for my elder daughter (14) who struggles to fit her legs in behind me once I’ve got my 6ft 3in frame comfortable.

So, based on these early impressions, is it a true SUV? Well it’s definitely a vehicle, and it feels surprisingly sporty, too; but as for the ‘utility’ bit, the jury’s still out. The next few months will reveal the answer.

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