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As the compact passenger car market continues to favour crossovers to hatchbacks, competition has increased, with some unhappy consequences.
In an effort to create product differentiation in a crowded and competitive marketplace, designers have been allowed too much leeway. Evaluate the current compact crossover market, and there are some very inelegantly styled vehicles.
Mazda does it differently with the CX-30. The Japanese company has a proven history of terrific design. From its RX-7 sportscar to the MX-5, Kodo design is the theme with Mazdas – instead of being mere marketing doublespeak.
Mazda CX-30 design and interior
The CX-30 might have an oversized grille, which is the default design nowadays, but its bumpers aren’t ruined with all manner of fake aero ducts. We tested the 2.0 Dynamic, which features black cladding around the wheel arches and door undersides – an excellent trim option for South Africa, with its abundance of gravel roads and the risk of stone chips.
Mazda’s CX-30 looks even better from the rear, with clean surfacing and slim taillights featuring rounded brake lamps – which is a design influence from the brand’s MX-5 roadster.
That considered and balanced design is even better inside. There is minimal piano black and an abundance of soft-touch surfaces. No silly multicolour displays, mood lighting or shimmering surfaces.
The CX-30 cabin architecture is ergonomically balanced, cleanly styled and perceived quality is very high. In fact, if you were to sit in the CX-30, blindfolded, and had only a tactile experience to tell what it was – you’d probably guess it was a German car.
Performance and details
It’s fantastic to look at and terrifically comfortable to sit in — but how does it drive? Mazda has always been suspicious of turbocharged engines if they aren’t rotaries. The Japanese brand’s reason is simple: when using all the boost, fuel consumption becomes too heavy.
Although other global markets have a 2.5-litre engine on offer, a 2-litre petrol that’s good for 121kW and 213Nm powers the local CX-30. Those numbers might be a touch down on its turbocharged rivals, but you’d only notice some blunting of performance when travelling with four passengers and a full stowage area of luggage.
Despite the sleek appearance and tidy exterior proportions, the CX-30 will load up with 430-litres of luggage. It is a significant improvement compared to the CX-3’s 264-litre capacity.
The steering is crisp and rolling on sensible tyres. With adequate sidewalls, it copes confidently with indifferent South African road surfaces. High-speed tracking stability is excellent and at parking speeds, the suspension and steering geometry make this Mazda a dawdle to park.
Weaknesses? There’s only one. Really. Although the CX-30 Dynamic has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the infotainment screen isn’t touch functional.
The Mazda CX-30 Dynamic prices at R499 000.
Featured image: Lance Branquinho