However, like the C-HR (imported from Thailand), the CX-30 is imported from Japan which means it doesn't get the tax breaks given for locally assembled cars.
This means hefty price tags for the three CX-30 variants which are priced at RM143,059 (entry-level 2.0-litre petrol); RM164,059 (High grade 2.0-litre petrol) and RM172,943.60 (High grade 1.8-litre diesel).
Compare this to the CX-30's locally assembled big brother CX-5 2.0-litre petrol variants which have more accessible prices of RM137,379.20 (Mid grade) and RM154,379.20 (High grade).
Features and technology
The high prices aside, the CX-30 comes standard with an array of premium goodies including LED automatic headlights, a colour heads-up display to display driving data for the driver, electronic parking brake, automatic wipers, a nice eight-speaker audio system and a reverse camera with dynamic guidelines, besides an infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
For safety, seven airbags are standard and the High grade variants get extra premium stuff like Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Lane Keep Assist System (LAS), Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) for front and rear, and Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC).
On our CX-30 High grade petrol test drive unit, these technologies meant we could can automatically follow and brake, and maintain a safe distance from the car in front (without our right foot on the pedals).
We kept our hands on the steering wheel, bearing in mind that the driver's assistance systems have limitations. With LAS switched on, you will find the steering wheel resisting your efforts to move into the adjacent lane, if you don't signal.
LAS also helps prevent unintentional lane changes by steering the car back towards the center of the lane. The reverse camera with RCTA is really useful as you are warned of approaching traffic when backing out of a parking spot.
We also like the space-saving electric parking brake which allows the Auto Hold function (less fatigue for the right foot in lengthy stop-start traffic as Auto Hold keeps the brake applied until you step on the accelerator pedal).
Interior and practicality
The cabin has an attractive premium ambiance with high quality leather upholstery, soft touch materials and shiny chrome surfaces. There's a powered sunroof if you want more sunlight.
Storage options here are adequate, including four door bins, two cup holders in front and a deep centre console storage box (between the front seats).
There are two USB ports, including one (together with a 12V socket) located in the deep centre console storage box, which also doubles as a centre armrest.
Still, the 8.8-inch full-colour infotainment display is not a touchscreen and you have to use the Commander Control's rotary dial and buttons (below the gear shifter) to control the Navigation and infotainment system.
We did find the infotainment controls somewhat cumbersome compared with some of the touchscreen systems we have tried out.
Perhaps it's time Mazda look more into providing a more user-friendly touchscreen infotainment system. For navigation, you will need a Mazda navigation SD card.
We had no complaints regarding rear headroom and legroom, which we felt is adequate for 1.7-metre adults. Rear air-conditioning vents help to keep rear occupants cool and having is powered rear liftgate is certainly convenient.
Also, the CX-30 has ample rear cargo room at 430 litres (compared with the HR-V's 437 litres and the C-HR's 388 litres).
The CX-30 shares its platform and powertrain with the Mazda3, and you will find a familiar 2.0-litre 162hp/213Nm engine here.
All variants in Malaysia are front-wheel drive, with a SkyActiv Drive six-speed automatic transmission.
Running on Thai-produced Dunlop SP Sport Maxx 050 premium high performance tyres sized 215/55 R18, the drive quality is quiet and refined, with smooth and steady acceleration.
There are no turbocharged thrills here, but a Sport drive mode, engaged via a switch next to the gear lever, allows you to get a more aggressive throttle response and keeps the transmission in a lower gear.
For more involved driving, the paddle shifters come in handy. On the highway, when driving at 80kph, we noted that the tachometer needle was at a low 1,500rpm. At 90kph, the needle was at 1,750rpm and at 110kph, the needle hovered around 2,100rpm.
The front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beam suspension tuning provides a balance between sportiness and comfort, and we didn't find the ride quality to be overly firm on bumpy and poorly maintained roads.
The CX-30 has G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC Plus) technology, which helps with cornering control and the SUV is really impressive when taking corners and tight road curves, as we hardly felt body roll.
The CX-30 provides eminently smooth, comfortable and completely fuss-free motoring. The leather-clad interior has an upscale look, and the plush seats and top-notch sound insulation combined with the eight-speaker audio sound system deliver a cocoon that you would not mind spending lots of time inside.
It's not a sports oriented compact SUV; the power delivery is smooth but not eager, and the handling is competent and it feels very planted in taking corners.
The CX-30 has a solid build and neat handling, and is quite well-equipped with a long list of comfort, safety and driver's assistance features. It's just too bad that the high selling price means this good-looking compact SUV will appeal only to a very niche buying segment who would not mind paying the extra premium for a machine they really like.
Mazda CX-30 High grade 2.0L
Engine: 1,998cc, SkyAvtic-G direct-injection, four-cylinder petrol
Maximum power: 162hp at 6,000rpm
Maximum torque: 213Nm of torque at 4,000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual-shift
Rear luggage capacity: 430 litres
Fuel tank: 51 litres
Kerb weight: 1,453kg
Features: Electric sliding glass sunroof, powered tailgate, and front and rear parking sensors, leather seats, LED automatic headlights and rear light clusters (Signature Illumination), LED daytime running lights, keyless entry system, colour heads-up display, automatic wipers, push-start button, electronic parking brake, cruise control, one-touch power windows with anti-pinch function, engine start-stop system, free-standing 8.8-inch full-colour infotainment display, multi-function Commander Control rotary knob, voice control, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, two USB ports, a reverse camera with dynamic guidelines, auto-dimming frameless rearview mirror, dual-zone climate controls, rear air-conditioning vents, 10-way powered driver's seat (two memory slots)
Safety features: Seven airbags, anti-lock braking system, dynamic stability control, electronic brake-force distribution, emergency brake assist, traction control, emergency stop signal, hill-start assist, auto-hold function, adaptive front-lighting system, high-beam control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, driver attention alert, front and rear smart brake support and dynamic cruise control
Warranty: 5-year warranty or 100,000km (whichever is first), five-year free maintenance package including labour, parts and lubricants
Price: RM164,059 (on-the-road without insurance)