Is the hype about the CX-30 real?

Published June 10, 2021, 5:46 PM

by Eric R. Tipan

Mazda CX-30 Sport FWD

In the last two years it has won a Red Dot Design Award, the Autozeitung Design Trophy, the Auto Bild Golden Steering Wheel Award, Car of the Year (Thailand and Australia), and Consumer Reports’ Top Pick for Subcompact SUV, while also getting a five-star safety rating from Euro and Australasian NCAP (New Car Assessment Program). And to think, it’s only just two years old.

As it is based on the multi-awarded Mazda 3, it’s pretty obvious where it gets its looks. It shows off the sixth iteration of the same Kodo design in crossover form that Mazda is proud to say, still devoid of any character lines. What’s there is a play of reflections and angles that display a distinct wavy lighting signature. This you have to see to believe.

It’s only about five feet high, which is a pretty low ceiling in its segment, and the top half of the body tucks in and decreases in width for better aesthetics and aerodynamics. On that svelte figure are 18-inch wheels, adaptive LED front-lighting system, rain-sensing wipers, a rear spoiler, and a dual-type exhaust. Mazda kept the exterior as clean as possible, shunning even a shark’s fin antenna to keep the looks clean and neat.

The color motif inside is mainly black with swatches of blue and then highlighted by slivers of chrome on the dashboard, panels, center console, and the steering wheel. I wouldn’t go with the first two colors personally (I’d choose to go all black) but Mazda got it to work well in the cabin.

The layout is very driver-centric that the 8.8-inch non-touch, LCD monitor is angled to the left and there’s a ridge on the door panels that connect to the soft topping of the dashboard to make it feel like a true cockpit.

In true minimalist design, the fixtures are discreetly incorporated in the front. The vents are slim and the buttons are small that both virtually blend in so as not to cause driver distraction.

I love gripping the leather steering wheel as it feels a few millimeters thicker than usual and it’s sized just right for a compact crossover. On the right stalk are cruise controls and on the left are audio and multi-information display buttons.

The leather seats aren’t electronically adjustable but, including the headrest, got me in the right comfortable driving position while offering a very snug fit from the base all the way to the backrest. You don’t know how hard that is to come by these days.

All interior details are executed with spotless precision, which made for a really tidy and stylish finish without any of the superfluous appointments that are oftentimes eyesores.

There is a drawback to that sleek body though. Head and elbow room are limited and I felt that as soon as I took a seat. It would be a tough fit for five regular-sized Pinoys. If you’re going on a long road trip, for the sake of comfort, four would be best.

The infotainment system still sports the Command Control that’s by the large center console and it also comes with two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Under the hood is the SkyActiv-G 2.0L direct injection engine with 154 PS and 200 Nm of torque. It boasts of being the world’s first gasoline engine for mass production vehicles with a compression ratio of 14.0:1 but the trade-off is that faint diesel-like clatter. Fortunately, it’s only audible from the outside. Mazda’s sound-deadening materials do a spectacular job in keeping that and NVH level down in the cabin.

The good news is it brings more torque even at low speeds, which is awesome when you’re trying to overtake on EDSA. Just a bit of throttle pressure and there’s a pull you’ll feel comparable to turbocharged small displacement engines. But the best part, it’s some 15% more fuel efficient than its counterparts and fuel consumption on mixed driving during GCQ is 13.2 km/l.

Steering feedback is light, despite the vehicle’s 1.3-ton weight, and the compact body makes it easy to maneuver around traffic and tight spaces without the need for noisy sensors. It did have a rearview camera.

Because of the long ceiling and in no small part to the tuning of the MacPherson strut front suspension and the rear torsion beam, it zipped along zigzags without much of a body roll which was great for my sleepy passengers on my long drive out of town.

To answer the question and to put is as succinctly as possible, YES, the hype is real folks, but it comes with a high P1.790 million price tag.

This is a solid crossover. The Mazda CX-30 is beautiful, especially in Soul Red. It comes with a small but very chic and elegant cabin, and it’s tech-proofed and even equipped with seven airbags.