The Mazda CX-30, introduced last year, slots under the CX-5. So why not call it the CX-4? Because there is already a CX-4 sold in China, which is a different car. And this is based on a the Mazda3 hatchback, although its 7cm shorter and 10cm taller. The same platform is also the basis for the all-new all-electric MX-30.

Prices start at around £23k and rise to just over £34,000. Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations are available and refreshingly manual as well as automatic transmissions are available.

There are no diesel variants, but there’s a choice of two 2.0 four-cylinder petrol engines, a regular one with 120bhp and a very clever new type of engine dubbed the ‘spark controlled compression ignition unit’ which attempts to emulate the thriftiness of an oil-burner but cleverly managing the compression system to find the optimal balance between performance and economy.

That’s the engine fitted in the test car featured here, which also has a six-speed manual and is front-wheel drive. It’s a mid-spec Sport Lux model, for around £28k and puts out 183bhp. Acceleration from rest to 62mph is in 8.3 seconds and it can reach 127mph. Combined fuel consumption is quoted at 49.6mpg, and while I didn’t quite witness that, over a longer run, it barely seemed to use fuel. Meanwhile CO2 emissions is 128g/km.

mazda mx30 rear 300x200 - Mazda CX-30 Review
A 430 litre boot expands to over 1400 litres with the split-folding seats down, and there’s a foldable false floor, which all seems on par for this size of car. In the rear, it’s a little tight for longer-legged passengers like me, but it’s more than adequate for children.
Up front, you’re greeted by a great quality cabin, with some clever touches like the centre instrument dial closely simulating a real dial but being entirely digital. And some not-so-clever touches like a big centre screen that is not touch-controlled.

It’s generally intuitive in the cabin, seating is comfortable, quality is beyond reproach, and visibility is good with a reversing camera proving handy for parking. And while this is a well-equipped modern car, with the typical driver-assist systems present and correct, yet there is a somewhat old-school feel about this car. There is nothing too futuristic to bedazzle or astonish the driver, and it’s a familiar place to slot into for drivers who have been motoring for decade or two.

This further translate to the drive itself. Particularly in this manual car. Perfectly composed, accessible and manageable around town, show it a clear stretch of B-Road and a few enticing corners and the CX-30 seems to come alive. There is no Sports mode button to hit, but the shift in attitude, noise and poise in the car is palpable.

It’s not just a car that will dutifully engage the driver when requested, it’s a car that telegraphs the person behind the wheel to get on their game because things are getting interesting. There’s a satisfying weight to the controls, there’s controlled but eager movement in the body, understeer is buried too deep in its repertoire to come into play, and performance is keen and punchy for a family hauler. The ride too is remarkably composed and never flustered, stiff enough to keep it keen, but compliant enough to smoother surface undulations.

The CX-30 is for my generation of drivers – those that remember how regular cars used to be: functional 90 percent of the time, but capable and willing to get serious when you want them to. And yet it doesn’t skimp on the mod-cons, and provides a thoroughly modern, comfortable and practical package that makes sense both for a urban mobility, and enjoyable value.