Mazda CX-30 long-term test review

The new Mazda CX-30 is the first coupé-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

Mileage 6221 Price £29,590 Target Price £29,090 Price as tested £29,930 Official economy 47.9mpg Test economy 36.0mpg Total running costs (excluding depreciation) £587.75 Dealer price now £25,238 Private price now £22,433 Trade-in price £22,176

11 January 2021 – Farewell to my Mazda CX-30

My Mazda CX-30’s arrival was made particularly special by it landing in the middle of Mazda’s centenary year, and it’s testament to the company’s spirit and determination that it would become one of the great success stories to emerge from the destruction of Hiroshima. 

It’s all the more remarkable because although the Toyo Kogyo Co was founded in 1920 as a cork manufacturer and later a machine-tool producer, it didn’t build its first vehicle – a three-wheeler utility vehicle – until 1931, when the Mazda name first appeared. And its first proper car wouldn't arrive until a decade and a half after the Enola Gay dropped its terrible cargo on that fateful day on 6 August 1945. The CX-30, then, is a graphic demonstration of how far Mazda has come in such a short time.

Mazda CX-30 long-term test

Mazda has always managed an enviable blend of blue-collar price-tags and prestige design, which ever since the Cosmo and Luce coupés of the late ’60s has lifted it above more run-of-the-mill fare, both domestic and European. For the past decade, that distinction has come from the firm’s ‘Kodo’ design language, launched in 2010 at the LA Motor Show by head designer Ikuo Maeda. This ‘Soul of Motion’ style first appeared in production form on the CX-5 SUV, and translates very effectively on the smaller, coupé-style CX-30

There’s no question that it looks the part, though there are some areas where style has slightly come at the expense of practicality – such as the sharp edges of the tail-lights, which fall uncomfortably at hip height. From the beginning, however, I posed the question of whether such a rakish design would cut it as a practical family car.

Mazda CX-30 long-term test

So far, the answer to that question has been a qualified yes. As a daily driver it’s been comfortable and easy to live with, happily playing its part on the school run with four kids aboard as part of a car-share scheme. But had those children been older they might have started to complain: with a six-footer up front, rear legroom is pretty compromised and that sloping roofline does affect headroom, too.

Mazda CX-30 long-term test

I initially had concerns about the 422-litre boot, but only on family holidays has it been found wanting, when a roofbox was called into action to provide extra space. The rest of the time it’s been big enough for my two dogs, with the underfloor storage useful for keeping delicate items out of their way. And with the seats folded, it’s crammed in a decent number of boxes for my weekly restocking trips at the local food bank. It’s a shame, though, that a practical car such as this doesn’t come with remote releases for the rear seatbacks as standard.

Mazda CX-30 long-term test

In many ways, it’s the perfect size: it doesn’t feel pokey inside like a CX-3, whose interior reflects the Mazda 2 on which it’s based, nor is it big and ponderous like a CX-5. Quite the opposite, in fact: on a country lane it feels compact, wieldy and agile, with sharp steering, body roll kept in check and a responsive engine – it’s that most unusual of combinations, an ordinary SUV that is fun to drive.

The clever compression-ignition Skyactiv-X engine occasionally frustrates with its tendency to stall unless you keep the revs up, but the manual gearbox is a pleasure to use and the M-hybrid system endows the car with a remarkably responsive start-stop system, and impressively low CO2 emissions.

Mazda CX-30 long-term test

There are plenty of useful storage areas dotted around the front passenger compartment; in these days of needing to carry masks and sanitiser at all times, that’s not to be sniffed at.

Also impressive on my GT Sport was the kit level, which made it a very comfortable car to live with. Again the rear-seat passengers felt a little forgotten, with an air vent and a single light the extent of the luxuries back there, but premium treats such as the adaptive cruise control, head-up display and a memory seat help the driver to ignore their complaints.

And perhaps that's the crux of the CX-30 experience: if you are looking for pure practicality it ultimately falls short, but as a stylish, entertaining and nicely made compact SUV it ticks an awful lot of boxes. And as long as you're the person sitting behind the wheel, you're unlikely to feel short-changed.

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