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By Jarryd Neves, Motoring correspondent
The hatchback and sedan have come under attack in recent years, as carmakers introduce a slew of crossover’s and SUVs. Consumers cannot get enough of the high-riding family cars, a mix of chunky styling and a raised ride height proving too appealing. What’s more, car companies are raking in the rewards, the high-riding alternatives proving more profitable.
And it’s clear to see – with the exception of the R and GTI performance models – Volkswagen will no longer offer the cooking variety Golf hatchback in South Africa. Filling the gap is the T-Roc, a mid-sized crossover that has proven popular. The success of the aforementioned VW has spurred others to produce their own alternatives and Mazda is no exception, launching the CX-30 locally.
Mazda has been on a winning streak when it comes to producing good-looking cars and the CX-30 is no different. The brand’s signature stylistic ‘Kodo’ language works well on this mid-size crossover, with elegant proportions and lovely lines flowing along the vehicle. Coated in the Japanese manufacturer’s gorgeous Polymetal Grey paintwork, the metallic sheen teams well with the chrome trim and black plastic cladding. As the range-topping Individual derivative, 18-inch alloys come standard. Overall, the CX-30 looks more expensive than its R540,000 price tag suggests.
Getting in and out of the tastefully appointed cabin is easy. The keyless entry unlocks the vehicle as you approach the door; step inside and you’re greeted by what is, quite simply, the best interior in this segment. There is a distinct air of quality, the entire facia and front door cards lined with soft-touch materials, vinyl and leatherette finishes. Metallised switches and a crisp driver’s display round off everything nicely.
It is a pleasant place to be seated, besting even the Audi Q2 for cabin ambience. The Volkswagen T-Roc’s interior may be intuitive and easy to operate, but the plastics feel far cheaper than the Mazda’s. Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of the CX-30’s cabin is the infotainment system. Unlike every other carmaker, the Hiroshima-based brand goes against the tide and refutes the touchscreen.
While the more tech-savvy may bemoan this decision, the reality is that Mazda’s MZD Connect system is one of the most intuitive out there. Controlled via a scroller, it is an absolute joy to use and far less cumbersome than the most user-friendly touchscreen infotainment systems out there. Equally impressive is the Individual’s standard specification. Luxury features such as keyless operation and leather seats ship standard, with LED headlamps, cruise control, an electric driver’s seat and dual-zone climate control are also included.
Less impressive is interior space. While those up front will be perfectly comfortable, the rear quarters are more cramped than rivals. At 1.7m, I’m not tall, but I struggled to sit behind my preferred driving position. This was not an issue in the T-Roc or Audi Q2, for example. The boot isn’t particularly capacious, either, measuring just 295 litres. The T-Roc boasts a far more useful 440 litres.
The 2.0-litre naturally aspirated powertrain produces 121 kW and 213 Nm of torque. Mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic, the CX-30 is well suited to both cruising on motorways and commuting about the suburbs. With maximum torque on offer at 4,000 r/min, the Mazda can, at times, feel sluggish at lower speeds. At highway speeds, it becomes livelier, with strong overtaking acceleration. Although the claimed fuel consumption figure is rated at 6.6 L/100 km, I struggled to see less than 8.9 L/100 km during my week behind the wheel.
The suspension arrangement is well-chosen, giving the Mazda a comfortable ride despite the larger 18-inch wheels. It can become unsettled over sudden ridges or a succession of bumps. Overall, the T-Roc appears a touch more composed over rough roads. Lesser CX-30 models with smaller wheels will most likely ride better. Chuck it into a bend and the Mazda rewards its driver with superb body control, balanced handling and precise (if a bit numb) steering. The brake pedal has an unusual resistance. It is not dangerous by any means but will require you to adjust your pedal regulation.
A talented crossover, the CX-30 competes with a raft of accomplished products. The Mazda isn’t fault-free: the boot is curiously small, the rear seats are cramped and the four-cylinder engine would benefit from some extra torque. Despite these black marks on its record, it remains an appealing crossover. At R540,000, it is more expensive than it’s deadliest rival, the T-Roc. But when you consider the sheer amount of standard equipment, it represents better value for money. You have got the added benefit of the high-quality interior, too.
Perhaps the biggest threat to the CX-30’s success comes from within its own family. For R23,300 less, you could purchase the bigger, more practical CX-5 SUV, albeit in the less luxurious Dynamic trim. If you don’t need the space of the CX-5, the range-topping Mazda3 Astina is priced at over R30,000 less than the CX-30 Individual. What’s more, the 3 is more fun to drive, lighter on fuel and offers similar levels of practicality. As a crossover, the CX-30 is one of the stronger contenders in its class. However, it’s positioned in a very tricky place within Mazda’s line-up. A three-year/unlimited km maintenance plan is standard.
The @Mazda_SA CX-30 2.0 Individual is one handsome crossover, especially when painted in this gorgeous Polymetal Grey paintwork. Interior is a masterpiece, high-quality materials are in abundance. pic.twitter.com/RZoFVLVjnD
— Jarryd Neves (@JarrydNeves) November 22, 2021
Mazda CX-30 2.0 Individual
Power: 121 kW/213 Nm
Fuel consumption: 6.6 L/100km (claimed)
Top speed: n/a
Rivals: Volkswagen T-Roc 1.4TSI 110 kW Design, Audi Q2 35TFSI
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- Audi Q2 35 TFSI: Baby Q still delivers key Audi attributes
- Volkswagen T-Roc 1.4TSI 110 kW Design: Better than a Golf?
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