By Bill McCarthy
WHEN you have a winner on your hands, changing it can be fraught with danger. If it ain’t broke, don’t mend it, if you like.
Such is the case with Mazda’s CX range, already stunning looking and practical crossover SUVs, they are real head turners in terms of design.
Featuring the very latest Skyactiv-Vehicle Dynamics and Architecture technology, which the firm says delivers new standards of handling, refinement and driver engagement for an SUV.
Priced from £22,940, the 26 model line-up features five grades and two petrol engines, matched to the Mazda M Hybrid 24v mild-hybrid system
While Mazda says it is committed to diesel and the development of next-generation clean diesel engines for appropriate sectors, this Skyactiv-X fuel saving technology, and diminishing consumer demand for diesel engines, means the CX-30 will be exclusively petrol in the UK.
The two litre unit is certainly impressive, the spark-controlled ignition and high compression engine offering good pace, it hits 60mph in 8.5 seconds, and excellent frugality.
The compact CX-30 is one of the most stylish cars in its segment, sitting between the equally attractive CX-3 and CX-5.
Slightly longer than the CX-3 it has sleek, yet muscular looks and shares eye-catching styling with sharp creases and angles, attractive front and rear light clusters, gloss black grille and privacy glass to the rear.
To emphasise the SUV look, roof rails and body cladding has been added around the 18-inch alloys.
The interior offers high-end finish to match many premium brands, with a mixture of soft touch finish to dash and doors and a pleasing combo of dark grey cloth with navy blue accents is standard.
Driver and passengers feel comfortable in a logical, well-laid out interior with controls and dials intuitively placed, while the boot is roomy, with 430 litres, and practical with split storage compartments.
Centrepiece is an 8.8-inch colour centre screen controlled by console mounted dial called Mazda Connect. This includes integrated satnav and infotainment and connectivity for both Apple and Android phones.
Dials and controls are well laid out and intuitive, while the multi function steering wheel give drivers control at their fingertips. A head-up display also allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
All models are well kitted out and include the head-up display, radar cruise control and LED headlights as well as the usual electric and electronic goodies, while this model adds sunroof, reversing camera and powered, remote boot opening.
Head and leg room are good for front passengers, but it gets a bit cramped at the rear, particularly for taller people. But optimising A and C pillars means visibility all round it soon. Extra room has been freed up with an electric parking brake and a padded armrest with a console box beneath has been added.
On the road, this 180ps petrol engine is a revelation, delivering economy nearing 50mpg, unheard only a few years ago for petrol power.
It is extremely lively and the transmission is slick and smooth with the six-speed manual box feeling crisp and precise in Mazda tradition.
At home on rural roads or motorway, front MacPherson strut and rear torsion beam suspension systems deliver sharp handing and ride comfort with the vehicle feeling composed and agile on bends.
Safety features include smart radar controlled braking, which can detect pedestrians a night and radar cruise control which detect the proximity of other vehicles.
There certainly is a premium feel to this model and it feels impressive. It needs t be as it is up against the likes of the a key rival to premium contenders like the Volkswagen T-ROC, BMW X2, Mercedes GLA and Audi Q2, as well as mainstream competitors like the SEAT Ateca, Toyota C-HR and Vauxhall Grandland X.
Mazda CX-30 2.0-litre SkyActiv-X Sport Lux
Mechanical: 180PS, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 8.5 seconds
Combined mpg: 47.9
Insurance group: 19
CO2 emissions: 133g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles