Meet Mazda NZ’s future: a compact SUV called CX-30
Search Driven for Mazda for sale
The Mazda CX-30 has the unique honour/unfortunate handicap of being launched deep in New Zealand’s Alert Level 4 lockdown.
Not by choice, but the wheels were already in motion before the battle against Covid-19 took over our daily lives – cars were on the way to dealerships and marketing/media communications were in play.
That’s what we’re reporting on here, so it’s really just business as usual; with the slight difference that we haven’t actually driven the vehicle as part of this event.
However, we have driven the car… in a way; more about that in a minute.
Luckily for Mazda in the current climate, CX-30 is playing a long game. It’s a small SUV that fits in between the CX-3 and CX-5 size-wise, but it’s also part of a whole new generation of product for the Japanese brand.
In terms of its platform, technology and cabin architecture, the CX-30 has more in common with the new Mazda3 than its SUV siblings, although it’s not just a jacked-up hatch.
Nor does it look like a resized CX-3 or CX-5. A true “crossover”, perhaps?
The “30” badge also sets it apart, although that’s partly a matter of necessity: there’s already a CX-4 in China, which is a totally different model on a totally different platform.
The CX-30 model range lines up nicely with the Mazda3: there’s a GSX, GTX and Limited. The GSX is restricted to a 114kW/200Nm 2.0-litre engine and FWD, while the upper two models get a 139kW/252Nm 2.5-litre and AWD.
At prices of $41,990, $44,990 and $50,990 the CX-30 starts where the CX-3 ends - but is really mixing it up with the naturally aspirated CX-5 ($40,995-$55,995).
Mazda calls CX-30 an “upper mainstream” SUV that takes on the Nissan Qashqai and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, but also entry-level luxury models like the BMW X2 and Lexus UX200 – which start in the $50k bracket where CX-30 currently tops out.
Interestingly for a brand that really stepped away from AWD being a necessity on top-spec SUV models with the CX-3, Mazda NZ reckons it will be a real selling point for the CX-30: both models with the 2.5-litre engine have AWD as standard.
While we don’t have a FWD 2.5-litre model in NZ, Mazda says factory comparison between the two shows the new AWD system only uses three per cent more fuel.
The AWD also works in synch with Mazda’s GVC Plus, which imperceptibly tweaks engine torque and/or braking force to the outer front wheel during cornering to smooth out the drive.
The CX-30 has Mazda’s new Off-Road Traction Assist (ORTA) feature. While the company has always maintained its SUVs are primarily on-road vehicles, ORTA now gives some extra ability on loose surfaces by acting as a pseudo differential lock when the going gets tough.
The CX-30 is alone in the Mazda range in offering the new-generation AWD system for now, but ORTA will be working its way across the brand’s other SUVs as updates occur.
The talk with Mazda3 last year was all about attention to detail bringing extra refinement and it’s the same for the CX-30. There’s been an effort to get rid of vibration-inducing gaps by moving audio speakers out of the doors and onto the A-pillar, plugging the holes required for assembly and generally regarding all parts of the car as a human-centric whole. Mazda even talks about the seat design and mounting as being of the SkyActiv structure, for example.
It all gets a bit ethereal and really, the proof is in the driving. While it couldn’t happen for this launch, we did have a chance to sample the CX-30 last year in Germany.
It wasn’t quite “our” CX-30. The FWD petrol model was fitted with a mild-hybrid 2.0-litre that we don’t get: less power (85kW) than the NZ engine but more torque (270Nm).
So let’s focus on the ride and handling. On admittedly smooth German roads, the chassis was closer to the excellent Mazda3 hatch than anything from the SUV world. You sit 45mm higher so it stands to reason that it’s not quite as sharp, but it was gloriously fluid.
The ride impressed, too. As with the Three, Mazda uses a bespoke design of tyre for the CX-30 that works holistically with the suspension, by having a softer-than-usual sidewall but stiffer tread.
The mention of hybrid technology is relevant because we will eventually get a CX-30 hybrid of a different kind: a high-specification Takami fitted with Mazda’s revolutionary petrol-cum-diesel SkyActiv-X engine. Expect similar for the Mazda3.
Sales expectations for CX-30, timing for the Takami – it’s all gone out the window in the last few weeks. But we do know one thing: CX-30 represents the future for Mazda.