The compact SUV market is crowded with contenders and almost all the manufacturers are eager to get a slice of a very lucrative sales boom.
Mazda, which already has CX-3 and CX-5 models in the SUV arena now offers the CX-30, which slots between the two and perhaps ideally would have been called the CX-4 but that title was not available as Mazda had already used it elsewhere.
The CX-30 comes with a choice of two 2.0-litre mild-hybrid petrol engines which use an electric motor and lithium battery to enhance efficiency and improve response. Both engines come with a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard, with a 6-speed automatic an option.
There is a sporty 178 hp engine but my featured model is the popular 120 hp SE-L entry-level version which with manual gearbox is priced at €25,307 (£22,895). The 0-100 kph time is 11.2 seconds, not that quick by class standards, and top speed is 186 kph (116 mph). Average fuel economy is good at 16.1 kpl (45.6 mpg) and emissions are 116 g/km.
The sleek styling gives the CX-30 a lower more potent-looking image than most SUV rivals and it feels more of a driver’s car thanks to well-weighted and responsive steering, short-action gearshift and firmer suspension setting. You get minimal body lean on tight corners and reassuring grip and composure.
Inside, the cabin looks very smart with quality trim materials and there is a rotary controller with short-cut buttons making the infotainment unit easier to operate. All models get DAB radio, Bluetooth, sat-nav and smartphone mirroring, plus rear parking sensors which are especially useful as the CX-30 has a smaller rear screen than most so visibility is limited.
Standard safety kit includes auto emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning with lane-keeping assistance and a driver attention alert system. The lower roofline means slightly less rear headroom but otherwise, occupant space is fine and seating comfortable, though when it comes to luggage space, the 430 litre capacity of the CX-30 is less than that of rivals such as the Skoda Karoq and SEAT Ateca.
Summing up, the CX-30 has more sporty styling and much better handling than most and for some potential buyers in the image-conscious compact SUV sector, that may atone for its slightly smaller interior capacity.
Model tested is UK specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.
Facts At A Glance
Model: Mazda CX-30 SE-L
Engine: 2.0 litre petrol
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Performance: 0-100 kph 10.5 seconds, top speed 186 kph (116 mph)
Economy: 16.1 kpl (45.6 mpg)
Emissions 116 g/km