Smaller than a CX-5 but more expensive. The Mazda CX-30 has its merits, but does it make any sense?

If you’ve got around RM150k to spend on a mid-sized crossover SUV, it’s hard to look beyond the simple two-way choice between the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5. Yet, curiously, it is Mazda of all people who have chosen to complicate the equation a little by throwing what it calls the CX-30 into the mix.

Putting Value Into Perspective


It may be smaller than the CX-5, but the CX-30 is not a vehicle without merits. For one, it has the ‘Made in Japan’ tag, but most importantly perhaps, is that its hardware is actually one model generation more advanced than the CX-5. The CX-30 effectively sits on a raised Mazda3 platform, so if you can accept the new 3’s pricing, the CX-30 is a relatively small leap to make.

As a crossover, the CX-30 sports more conservative proportions than the 3. It’s more upright thanks to its raised height, but one can see just as much effort put into the sculpting of its sheet metal. The same approach of eschewing sharp character lines in favour of sensuous curves is obvious and the result is a vehicle that is less ‘soccer mom’ and more akin to ‘fast-rising career woman’.

Despite its numerical designation, the CX-30 is meant to slot in between the CX-3 and CX-5 in Mazda’s line-up. An overall length of 4.4 metres, which neatly bisects the gap between the two, confirms this. The fact that it is sizably smaller than the CX-5 may give the impression that the CX-30 is built to be a more effective HR-V competitor, but Mazda has bigger ambitions than that.

With a starting price beyond RM140k, it is clear that the CX-30 is not here to play a volume game. Further muddling the waters is our CKD vs CBU taxation that gives the bigger CX-5 a lower starting price than the CX-30 here. If it’s sheer bang for buck you’re after, look elsewhere.

But, consider this simple shift in perspective. Imagine yourself as a prospective buyer of the new Mazda3 and for an additional outlay of just RM6,000, you step up to a CX-30 of comparable equipment; and seeing that the new 3 does not seem short on takers, I’d say that the CX-30’s value proposition may not be as tough a sell as I imagined it at the beginning.

Inside, the cabin is a carbon copy of the new Mazda3, which is not a bad thing, considering the latter’s high standards of fit and finish. Forget Honda and Toyota comparisons, the CX-30’s interior makes a BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA look and feel embarrassingly blue collar. Once again, shift your perspective. Only complaint – rear AC vents should be standard; keyless entry too.


Further good news is that it handles with the sharpness of the 3 as well. The chassis is typical Mazda, responding to inputs in beautifully neutral and predictable fashion, giving you precisely as much as you asked for without the slightest hint of exaggeration or delay. But Mazda also managed to inject a little SUV-ness into the ride by giving the CX-30 just that little bit more compliancy over patched roads.


A choice of three engine-drivetrain combinations are on offer, and for the first time, our market is offered the 1.8-litre SkyActiv diesel in addition to the familiar 2.0-litre petrol powerplant. The similarly familiar 6-speed auto is standard, and all-wheel drive is available as an option too, though curiously only with the petrol and not the torquier diesel in which all-round traction would have been more useful.

Quite frankly, the proven petrol engine with front wheel drive is all you need – for starters, 162hp and 213Nm won’t overwhelm the front wheels without considerable effort and the diesel engine isn’t quite as satisfying to drive. In comparison to the excellent 2.2-litre unit in the CX-5 and Mazda6, the CX-30’s 1.8-litre oil burner is neither as smooth-revving nor does it respond as quickly to throttle inputs. It also does not pull with the kind of strength one typically expects of a diesel.


Despite Mazda’s assertions, the CX-30 isn’t quite so straight forward a product to pigeonhole in any specific segment. What we can definitely say is that this is not a Honda HR-V competitor, and that even within Mazda’s stable, it is difficult to argue against the CX-5 for the same money.


But see it as an upgrade from the CX-3 or new Mazda3 – both of which are fully-imported as well – the CX-30 then suddenly does not seem so outrageous anymore, it feels reasonable even. Like the Mazda3 which it is based upon, the CX-30 continues Mazda’s admirable efforts to claw its way up the value chain to confidently knock on the door of premium segments.