Tested: 2020 Mazda CX-30

The Mazda CX-30 is a tweener – it slots in between the CX-3 and CX-5 in Mazda’s lineup. Why it’s not called the CX-4 is a question best left for Mazda product planners. They say extensive research among their existing customers as well as folks who went elsewhere, shows there is room for a vehicle that bridges the blurred division between the sub-compact and compact crossover segments.

We may never know why the all-new Euro-designed Mazda CX-30, a tweener slotting between the CX-3 and CX-5, is not called the CX-4.

That research shows the main reason consumers turn away from cute utes like the CX-3, Honda HR-V and Hyundai Kona was because the price was too high. That was not a surprise, just typical reaction in such surveys. But the second reason was ‘vehicle too small’. An aha moment – a market for something larger, but not so much so as to move into the territory of CX-5, RAV4, CR-V etc.

Mazda’s European design studio in Frankfurt, came up with the CX-30 – 12-cm longer than the CX-3, riding on a wheelbase stretched 8.4 cm. That extra space between the front and rear wheels was allocated to the rear seat and trunk areas.

The surveys showed the main reasons people bought the smaller CX-3, HR-V, Kona, Subaru Crosstrek and Nissan Qashqai were all-wheel-drive and ‘value for money’. Guess what? AWD is available on all CX-30 trim levels and standard on the top one. Prices run from $23,950 for an FWD entry trim level to $33,850 for the loaded range-topper.

To check the value box, the ‘base’ model CX-30 gets a raft of standard equipment.

The least expensive GX trim level comes with advanced blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rear view camera, alloy wheels, LED headlights, power mirrors, 22-cm wide display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, eight-speaker audio system, wireless connectivity with SMS text messaging function, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, push button start, cruise control, electronic parking brake, tilt & Telescope steering wheel, heated front seats and power windows and locks. That’s the ‘base’ model.

The development team was also able to bake more ‘want’ features into the CX-30, based on the research. Among these: a power lift tailgate, driver seat memory, factory-installed navigation, and blind spot monitoring, depending on trim level.

Even at the entry point, the interior boasts a level of craftsmanship not previously seen at this price point. There are a couple of two-tone treatments to brighten things up – rich brown and navy blue.

Finally – an electronic owner’s manual incorporated within the infotainment system!

Mazda says 80% of collisions and 65% of near collisions involve driver distraction. To partially address that situation, the infotainment screen is mounted high, on top of the instrument panel. It responds to voice commands and where necessary, provides direct access to features at a single touch. The console-mounted controller is easily reached and intuitive in nature. The Heads-Up Display has been improved considerably with a clear projection on the windshield, replacing the flimsy little plastic panel that rose from the instrument panel on older Mazdas.

The front seats are roomy, as is the center console. Rear leg and head room and cargo space behind the rear seats are mid-pack.

The 2020 Mazda CX-30 is a sweetheart to drive.

LED headlights are standard, a significant advantage for anyone who drives at night. Extensive work on NVH has resulted in a very low levels of both road and wind noise. The seats are a new, design that eliminates slouching and keep the driver in the best position relative to the wheel and pedals.

The CX-30 is a sweetheart to drive. Typically, Mazda’s response to driver inputs is immediate and linear. Even those with no interest in driving dynamics benefit from the attention to mechanical detail synonymous with this brand. The CX-30 provides a comfy ride on long, smooth straight stretches – as most vehicles do. But when the road develops the bends, the CX-30 comes into its own, leaving the competition behind, with quick reflexes. It stays flat in the corners, all the while feeding useful info to the driver through the wheel and seat of the pants.

Mazda hits the bullseye with the CX-30, aimed squarely at active young families.

For some, crossing the province on Route 8 from the South Shore to the Annapolis Valley can be a boring blend of trees and corners. For others, like this scribe, it is nirvana. Especially at the wheel of a small agile vehicle like the CX-30! The supple suspension erases all but the worst of nasty surfaces but keeps things relatively level in the turns.

Two engine options for the CX-30

The standard engine in the base GX is a 155-horsepower, 2.0 litre four. The move up to the GS and GT brings a 186-horse 2.5 litre four. The bigger engine provides adequate if not impressive performance. Throttle response is immediate and progressive. FWD is standard on the GS and GX, AWD is available across the board.

The development team aimed the CX-30 at active young families – the same target of 99% of all development teams. But Mazda hit the bullseye.

 

2020 Mazda CX-30 GX AWD

PRICE

Base: $23,950

As tested: $36,373 plus freight

STANDARD EQUIPMENT (GT trim)

18-in alloy wheels,  push button start, Mazda Connect with 22-cm display, rear view camera, power moonroof, heated front seats, mirrors and steering wheel, leather-upholstery, 10-way power driver’s seat with two memory settings, automatic headlights and wipers, navigation system, 12-speaker Bose audio system, automatic climate control, radar-based cruise control with stop and go, keyless entry, power liftgate, .

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, forward obstruction warning, front and rear smart city brake support, rear park sensors, Smart City brake support front and rear, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, lane departure warning.

SIGNIFICANT OPTIONS

Soul red crystal metallic paint, $450

MECHANICAL

2.5-litre four-cylinder, 186- horsepower, 186 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel. Six-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive, NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 9.9 / 7.7

DIMENSIONS

Length, 4,395 mm; width, 2,040 mm; wheelbase, 2,653 mm

Others to consider: Honda HR-V, Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Kona, Mitsubishi RVR, Nissan Qashqai, Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota C-HR.

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