Put it down to my impetuous, impatient nature that I have a habit of being disappointed with a car if it doesn’t light up my eyes early in our acquaintance. Or you can put it down to the fact that the car doesn’t ring bells simply because it is dull or not up to scratch in important fronts. Or attribute it to being an example of how spoilt we are for choice: we expect more and more every time.
I have a good example of all three forces at play with this week’s review car.
The model at my disposal was the compact SUV from Mazda, called the CX-30. Think of it as Mazda’s answer to a broad spread of existing rivals.
Carmakers have hit on a formula with such cars because buyers love, among other things, the idea of higher seating and multifaceted crossover looks.
The Mazda hasn’t much of the former but has plenty of the latter.
The CX-30 joins late, but as it is based heavily on the new Mazda3 hatchback, it is technically right up-to-date.
They have sprinkled a little (not much) height (raised suspension) and extra poise, but other than that you are talking a few, if important, styling variances.
I liked what I can only term are its ‘cute looks’: smart front, neatly tucked-in back and unblemished curves-rather-than-sharp-line flanks. It is a pleasant car on the eye with a series of cleverly construed visual nuances. Effectively it slots in between the smaller CX-3 and the larger (and excellent) CX-5. It is only 4m long but Mazda claim some of its interior dimensions are up to CX-5 size. I bow to their superior measuring mechanisms but I beg to disagree on the basis of real-world experience, I wouldn’t be handing out plaudits for rear-seat room in particular. I am, perhaps, being a bit hard on it, but you have to be careful not to create expectations that can’t be fulfilled.
The cabin is typically modern, understated with uncluttered dash and an excellent infotainment screen taking the focus of attention. It was of value in catering for the usual run of driver demands.
The inside didn’t do an awful lot for me because it is not designed in any memorable manner; nor was there a great sense of space. I liked the (albeit low) driving position; after that, everything fell into place. That is exactly what you want in a car: ease of drive. It is the least you would expect in this day and age, I know, but I’m often surprised by the number of cars that do not manage it too well; they either create distraction with a finicky infotainment screen or are poor relations between seat height and steering wheel.
I would not be a fan, by any means, of the power source. Well, not so much the 2-litre petrol engine as the low-power level to which they have it tuned. The Skyactiv-G petrol was thirsty and, surprisingly, took a bit of edge off the driving. I’m not saying it should provide boy-racer performance but I had to change down far too often when I wished to accelerate or overtake.
When I think of engines in rivals out there, including lively and energetic little petrols in several, I have to say Mazda’s doesn’t compare that well. I was disappointed with how quickly the fuel gauge slid down.
One of the benefits of its low-slung nature is that you don’t get a sense of bodyroll that comes with some taller counterparts.
I acknowledge that buyers of these cars are not looking for wonderful handling, but it lent a nicer feel to my test car anyway, albeit a bit overshadowed by my criticism of the engine.
Would I buy it? I’d have to think a while. I reckon the likes of some rivals just mentioned have something more about them.
But I have to tell you I have a bit of history with Mazda. I often find their new cars take a good while to grow on me. It’s a company that tends to plan, painstakingly, for the long haul; for when the newness wears off and a car’s true colours come through.
When, and if, they do more manifestly with the CX-30, I’ll let you know, but for now it is a case of me being just moderately enthusiastic.
Put it down to my impetuous, impatient nature but despite the styling and a touch of quality, it didn’t resonate sufficiently strongly to have me putting it in my Top Three.
Yes, I am that spoilt for choice.
Facts & Figures
2-litre petrol, GT trim, 122PS, 6spd, €200 tax. Range from €29,495. On test: €34,545.
Standard are radar cruise control, several driver assist technologies, rear parking sensors, 8.8in multimedia screen, etc. GS-L adds dual auto air con, front-parking sensors, CD player. GT adds black leather, 18in alloys. GT Sport (tested) adds adaptive LED headlights, 12-speaker Bose system.