The Mazda CX-30 is the best example that a compact crossover does not need fussy angles, fancy light-show and super-sized grilles to turn heads. In its simplicity, the CX-30 is the classiest compact crossover that you can have on your driveway today.
Simple it may be, but the thought process stems from evolving the Kodo design language, in which clay comes before CAD. It results in body panels that look clean, clear and reflective so lightwaves can form the lines.
The long-ish bonnet, steepish windscreen and chunky rear end give the crossover sporty proportions. It pairs nicely with the slim lights that bookend the crossover. A point to note here, the turn-signal lights fades out slowly instead of the usual on-off sequence that feels like an easter egg you'd be glad to spot.
Comparing the CX-30 to the Mazda3 is inevitable as both share more than just a couple of commonalities and more than just the platform. The interior design, for one, seems like a mirror image to the C-segment car, and the same is said for the materials used. It is a good thing; the CX-30's interior feels more expensive than those made by supposedly premium brands.
All knobs, switches and buttons have the right amount of force-feedback when used, making them feel upmarket. The screen on the dashboard isn't touchscreen and is purposely placed well out of reach to keep your hands on the wheel. You can scroll through the menus with the large dial just below the shifter. The UI design is kept simple with high-contrast, legible fonts with monochrome icons instead of bombarding the sense with colours.
The driver sits lower to the floor and sandwiched between the raised transmission tunnel and the bolstered door armrest, appearing sporty-like. While it fits most, the broader among us will feel snug. Still, it does not detract from the seats' comfort, specifically designed to set the pelvis in the upright position.
As with all compact crossover, interior spaciousness will always be an issue. The CX-30 isn't the most spacious I have been in — the Honda HR-V clearly has that in the bag — but it isn't as cramped as the C-HR. Rear legroom is adequate when appropriately seated, with feel slipped under the front seats.
Boot space can hold more than you think. The cargo hold opens up more with the 60:40 split seats down. But Mazda isn't expecting you to load heavy things in the rear, seeing as the depth of the boot will make it harder to load and unload hefty objects.
Motivating the CX-30 rests on the shoulders of the familiar 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G engine, which produces 162hp and 213Nm without help from any sort of charger. The powertrain is paired with Mazda's own six-speed automatic that channels power to the front wheels. Or, as with this CX-30 on the test, all four wheels when the situation calls for it.
The crossover accelerates quickly off the line, so no one would think it wants more power and kicking down won't necessarily reward with extra smiles. The take-off is always smooth across the rev range and settling down quickly for a cruise, which it prefers. Once up to speed, you'll notice how refined the CX-30 is on the move.
Noise, vibration and harshness have been toned down significantly but not completely cut off from the road. Mazda still affords some feedback through the bones of the car to yours, and not just via the steering wheel.
The ride leans on firm but remains gently comfortable across the board, only becoming rough on more demanding surfaces. Confident handling, one of Mazda's hallmarks, comes from intuitive steering, linear progression in the corners and good body control. The CX-30 certainly drives much better than most crossovers in the market.
The Mazda CX-30 is an enjoyable crossover to drive, distinguished by its balanced handling and smooth power delivery. Premium-feel trim and finishing add to the experience of driving a more expensive vehicle even if the CX-30 is priced well under RM200,000. The only thing keeping the CX-30 from achieving mass acceptance is its badge snobbery. Yet, after driving the CX-30, you'd be hard-pressed to find a reason not to have own this brilliant Mazda crossover.
Specification: Mazda CX-30 2.0L High AWD
Engine 1,998cc, DOHC, 16-valve, 4-cyl with VVT | Transmission SkyActiv Drive 6-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive | Power & Torque 162hp @ 6,000rpm / 213Nm @ 4,000 | Performance 6.5l/100km combined | Price RM170,459.00