REVIEW | 2021 Mazda CX-30 sacrifices ride comfort for agile handling
As sitting higher in a car seems to be an irresistible attraction to ever more buyers, SUVs have proliferated almost as fast as cryptocurrencies, offering consumers a bewilderingly diverse automotive choice.
Carmakers are capitalising on the demand by wedging new products into ever new niches, whether they exist or not. Thought there was no gap for an SUV between Mazda’s CX-3 and CX-5? Guess again.
Mazda’s filled it with the CX-30, and yes, it’s a little confusing in terms of where it fits into the hierarchy. Size-wise the car’s 4,395mm length slots it neatly between the 4,275mm CX-3 and the 4,550mm CX-5, but the CX-30 is priced almost identically to the larger CX-5.
The subject of this test, the entry-level Mazda CX-30 2.0 Active model sells for R469,000 while the larger CX-5 2.0 Active is priced just a snip higher at R469,100 — both cars having the same engine and similar spec levels.
Where to spend your hard-earned R469k in Mazdaville comes down to a choice between more space or swoopier styling, and as attractive as the CX-5 is, it looks almost fuddy-duddy in comparison to the new CX-30’s sleek, coupé-like lines.
With its streamlined shape and narrow LED headlamps this handsome compact SUV draws the gaze, and fears that the curvy roof could cramp one’s style prove unfounded: the rear seat is spacious enough for two tall adults, both in leg room and roof height.
Where you lose space in the CX-30 is the 295l boot which is a lot smaller than the CX-5’s 442l. That said, the CX-30 takes a reasonable amount of cargo, and with the rear seats flipped down it easily swallowed a mountain bike and luggage for two on a weekend trip. And it houses a nearly full-sized spare tyre.
The Active badge denotes Mazda’s entry-level grade which comes with a decent level of kit including LED headlamps, cruise control, a fully-specced infotainment system, rain-sensing wipers and even a head-up display.
For additional niceties like a reversing camera, full climate control, leather seats, and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, among other toys, you’ll have to pay up for the more expensive Dynamic or Individual Mazda CX-30 models.
Safety-wise there is no cost-cutting; all CX30 variants have seven airbags and ABS brakes, and the car achieved a maximum five-star safety rating in Euro NCAP crash tests.
The cabin is stylish and minimalist in Mazda’s modern style, with very few buttons cluttering the dash. Unlike most competitors, the screen won’t have unsightly finger smudges as Mazda’s infotainment system is operated by a mouse-like controller between the front seats, much like BMW’s iDrive system.
The cabin radiates a plush feel with soft-touch surfaces and smart-looking stitching on the dashboard and doors. The décor is sober and low key, though the pairing of black and navy blue shades — traditionally a fashion faux pas — does show some styling derring-do.
The cloth-covered seats are comfortable and supportive, but less impressive was the car’s ride quality. On smooth and undulating roads the CX-30 has decent glideability, but it felt jittery on gravel and unkempt tar — a surprise given the car’s high-profile 16-inch tyres. It’s clear this crossover SUV has been designed with more of an accent on road dynamics than dirt-road prowess.
It has impressively agile handling despite its 175mm ground clearance being slightly higher than a regular car’s. In corners the vehicle feels more like a normal hatchback than a crossover, and there’s very little body roll. The chassis seems like it could comfortably handle more power than the 2.0l normally-aspirated engine that does service across the range.
This engine makes Mazda one of the most powerful vehicles in the segment with its 121kW output, though the 213Nm of torque falls well short of some turbocharged rivals and leaves it lacking any real excitement when punching the throttle.
Rather, it’s an easy power delivery that leaves no unwanted cravings in urban commuting and cruises the open road with little effort. It’s a reasonably economical engine and our test car averaged 7.1l 100km albeit on mostly open roads.
The Mazda CX-30 is likeable for its standout styling, classy interior and safety features. The choppy ride dampens one’s enthusiasm to drive this so-called SUV on rough roads, but it’s a sweet corner carver.
Type: Four-cylinder petrol
Type: Six-speed automatic
Type: Front-wheel drive
Top speed: n/a
Fuel Consumption: 7.1l/100km (as tested)
LED headlamps, auto on/off headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, head-up display, keyless ignition, cruise control, infotainment system with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, eight-speaker audio system, aircon, electric windows, cloth seats, 16-inch alloy wheels, seven airbags, ABS brakes, stability control
COST OF OWNERSHIP
Warranty: Three years/unlimited km
Service plan: Three years/unlimited km
Lease*: R10,059 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
Mazda CX-30 2.0 Active auto
WE LIKE: Styling, easy cruising performance, handling
WE DISLIKE: Harsh ride on rough roads
VERDICT: A stylish crossover for smooth and twisty roads
Motor News star rating
Value For Money ****
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