I now know the reason why Mazda New Zealand would not release an estimate of new Mazda3 sales – the CX-30 was on the way. The Mazda3 is a very sharp car in performance, handling and looks, but the CX-30 scores in a more important area – fitting the role of everyday transport.
The CX-30 is not the sharpest handling Mazda, but it is the best riding, and that’s an important thing to have for most people. And as the market share of small SUVs continues to rise the CX-30 is almost certain to overwhelm the Mazda3.
The most important selling point is the promise of superior ride quality due to a combination of suspension settings and tyres specially tuned to help ride quality. They have a reduced side wall and rigid tread which causes more controlled deformation over bumps.
To reduce noise in the cabin, Mazda engineers went as far as to eliminate holes in the doors wile damping nodes and noise dampening materials further reduce the noise.
And then you drive the CX-30 in typically coarse chip New Zealand roads and that old tyre roar returns. In all honesty though, the CX-30 is dead quiet on ran roads and the tyre noise on the open road is low compared to many other SUVs on the market.
The $41,990 GSX tested here is front wheel drive only, so there isn’t the assistance of the whole AWD package, and you do feel that the handling is a touch less sharp than it could be. The ride quality, on the other hand, is impressive and the tyres and suspension isolate the body from the road in a way that reminds you of the old Peugeot 405. Notably, Peugeots of that age were fitted with Peugeot designed shock absorbers in an effort to produce a smooth ride.
It’s so ridiculously easy to live with a CX-30, and it’s size, almost exactly sized between the CX-3 and the CX-5. I used to think the CX5 was the lick of the bunch, but for a small family, the CX-30 is just a little more maneuverable and easier to park in tight spaces.
The CX-30 gets an all new infotainment system that includes an 8.8 inch display in the middle of the dashboard, and like the system in the MX-5 it has enough definition to allow fine lines in the words and icons in the display. The volume control on the steering wheel is a button than you push up and down on to adjust the button and you push it in to mute the volume. It’s far too easy to mute the system when you’re trying to adjust the volume. It’s better to use the prominent dial on the centre console for volume.
Front seats are soft and the rear seats are firm and you it on them rather than in them. and there’s good legroom in the back but limited head room due to the swooping roofline of the CX-30. The boot has good volume and the loading lip is low
Performance with the updated engine is average rather than startling. The 2.0-litre engine produces 114kW and 200Nm of torque, figures that are never going to set the world on fire but the engine is smooth and responsive. The AWD models have a 2.5-litre engine that produces a healthier 139kW, and yes, there will be a very high powered Takami version at a later date.
The drive assist system can sometimes give the steering a sudden small nudge that may put some people off but I suspect plenty of people would not notice. The drive assist can be turned off if it becomes too intrusive.
The gearbox pretty much does a good job of selecting appropriate gears but in sport mode it can hang on to lower ratios for longer than is comfortable.
The CX-30 is going to be a big seller for Mazda, as it fits the mold of the average small family almost perfectly. It also fits the mold of the more elderly, with easy access to the cabin, high driving position and commendable refinement from the quality to the interior to the low road noise and brilliant ride quality.