I RECENTLY went on a trip to the Isle of Skye with Mrs. B. The first decision we had to make was which car to take for this scenic trip. Since the weather was looking surprisingly good, it seemed like my own Mazda MX-5 NC would be the best option. 

However, I’m in the business of reviewing press cars and I had two sitting on the driveway at that moment – A Ford Puma ST Powershift and an updated, 2024 Mazda CX-30. So, the MX-5 would have to, reluctantly, stay at home. 

I eventually came down on the side of the Mazda CX-30 for a couple of reasons – (a) Unlike the much stiffer Puma ST, it wouldn’t knock my fillings out on some of the rougher Skye roads (b) The Mazda has a sweet-shifting 6-speed manual gearbox which would be ideal for wringing out the most enjoyment from the spectacular, twisting mountain roads between Fife and Skye. The Puma’s Powershift auto box wouldn’t. 

Perfect Balance

It proved to be a wise decision as the Mazda CX-30 performed admirably throughout and was a pleasure to drive thanks to the excellent gearbox, perfectly balanced ride comfort and a naturally-aspirated 2-litre petrol engine, which is a peach. 

Slotting into the Mazda SUV range below the award-winning Mazda CX-5, the CX-30 entered a new segment for Mazda. It comes into a competitive sector as 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 Toyota C-HR and Vauxhall Grandland X to name just a few. 

My car came with the 186 PS e-Skyactiv X engine which also features mild-hybrid technology for even better fuel economy. I achieved just over 55mpg on the whole weekend trip, which ain’t bad for a compact SUV whose handling encourages you to have some fun. 

2024 Updates

The 2024 Mazda CX-30 features some small updates but retains its award-winning exterior design and efficient petrol engines. In line with other cars in Mazda’s range, the CX-30 moves to the latest grade naming strategy and across the 18-model range features Prime-Line, Centre-Line, Homura, Exclusive-Line and Takumi grades.  

 Updates include a new, larger central screen that has grown from 8 to 10.25 inches to allow for clearer navigation mapping. Other connectivity upgrades include Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus QI Wireless Charging, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto navigation is now supported in the head-up display. Additionally, the 2024 model now features USB Type-C charging ports.   

The less powerful (but more popular) 122 PS e-Skyactiv G engine is available across all five Mazda CX-30 grades: Prime-Line, Centre-Line, Homura, Exclusive-Line and Takumi – with all but the Prime-Line offered with a choice of automatic or manual gearbox. 

The e-Skyactiv X engine is available with Centre-Line, Homura, Exclusive-Line and Takumi grades which can be matched to an automatic gearbox on all the grades.   

Pricing

Pricing is competitive with a new Mazda CX-30 Prime-Line being available from just £25,365, while the mid-range Homura costs £27,565. The range-topping Takumi will set you back £31,065. 

There is also the option of AWD on the top two models. 

All models in the line-up feature power folding door mirrors, LED headlights, rear parking sensors and a gloss black roof spoiler, while inside there is  Apple CarPlay and Android AutoTM, plus a colour windscreen projected Head-Up Display. 

From Centre-Line onwards the high-end equipment includes heated seats, while the range-topping Takumi model features a powered driver’s seat and heated steering wheel. 

However, unlike some rivals, a quick look at the standard equipment reveals that most of the interior luxury and practicality equipment is standard across the range. Even Mazda Radar Cruise Control is standard on every CX-30. 

My Homura model, fitted with the more powerful e-Skyactiv X engine and finished in Ceramic White (£570) comes in at £29,985 or £330/month on PCP. 

Excellent Handling

As well as being one of the better-looking compact SUVs around, the CX-30 is certainly one of the better-driving ones. Like the Mazda3, the Mazda CX-30 features the latest Skyactiv-Vehicle Dynamics and Architecture technology to ensure it delivers excellent standards of handling, refinement and driver engagement. 

And it shows. I found the CX-30 to be a fine driver’s car – SUV or not. It handles very much like its cousin, the Mazda3, in that the steering is very sharp and the overall handling is on the sporty side without losing any ride comfort.  

Driver-focused

The ergonomics help too, with everything easily to hand, good visibility all around and an excellent driving position thanks to Mazda’s attention to detail when it comes to designing driver-focused cars. 

It was perfect for our road-trip which took in fast dual-carriageways, challenging mountain roads and some pretty awful single-tracks that looked like the surface of the moon. 

Refinement was very good with only the worst roads causing any kind of thump through the suspension and chassis. 70mph dual-carriageways were a breeze with easy overtakes, even in 6th gear. The official 0-62mph sprint of 8.3 seconds feels about right and should be quick enough for most users. 

The interior of the Mazda CX-30 also impresses with a condensed cockpit area for the driver and a clean, airy open space around the front passenger. A quick look around confirms the quality of fit and finish is right up there with the best Germany can offer. 

The driver was also centre of mind when it came to the design of the interfaces in the CX-30. The HUD system, driving dials and central display screen have all been designed to present information in a clear, simple fashion without distraction. 

The 10.25-inch Infotainment screen is easy to navigate via the large dial controller, although to my mind it lacks a little height. 

Quality switchgear

Mazda craft all switches to deliver a consistent feel, regardless of whether they are pushed, pulled, flipped or turned, and this is no different in the CX-30. 

Sensibly, the climate controls get their own bank of controls in the centre of the dash, with tactile, knurled knobs for adjusting the temperature, so no poking at the screen when things get too hot, or too cold. 

The CX-30 is available with a choice of two audio systems: with Prime-Line, Centre-Line and Homura cars featuring the standard 3-way, 8-speaker Mazda Harmonic Acoustics system – which to my ears sounded very good. 

Exclusive-Line and Takumi have a 12-speaker Bose system custom-tuned to provide more powerful bass and the enhanced audio quality expected of the Bose brand. 

Practicality

For all the delivery of quality materials, generous standard equipment, refinement and driver comfort, Mazda’s engineers haven’t forgotten how important practicality is to SUV buyers. A generous distance of 740mm between the front seats is 50mm greater than in the previous Mazda CX-3, and on par with that of the Mazda CX-5. 

Rear passengers may not be quite as well-catered for though, as legroom is only adequate, while headroom may be a struggle for anyone over 6ft tall. Kids should be absolutely fine though and while 3 can sit side-by-side easily enough, the high central transmission tunnel makes things difficult for that central passenger. 

Boot space

Luggage capacity is a generous 430 litres, enough to simultaneously accommodate a large, global-standard baby buggy and a carry-on bag. The boot opening width is 1,030mm, while the height of the loading lip is just 731mm, for easy loading and unloading of heavy or bulky cargo. 

With its combination of quality, premium materials, smart design and practicality the Mazda CX-30 sets new standards for a Mazda SUV cabin and rounds off a family-SUV package that is hard to beat – especially for those who still enjoy their driving. 

  • Mazda CX-30 Homura e-Skyactiv X
  • Price (as tested): £29,985  
  • Engine: 2.0 petrol  
  • Power: 186 PS 
  • Transmission: 2WD, 6-speed Manual
  • 0-62mph: 8.3 secs   
  • Top Speed: 127 mph   
  • Combined Economy: 50.4 mpg   
  • C02 (WLTP Combined): 127 g/km  

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