On the sizing scale, it sits between the smaller CX-3 and the mid-sized CX-5 sports utility vehicle (SUV).
The CX-30’s platform is shared with the Mazda3 (compared with the CX-3 which is based on the Mazda2 platform).
The CX-30 measures 4,395mm (length); 1,795mm (width); 1,540mm (height) and 2,655mm (wheelbase).
It’s worth noting that it is longer and lower than the HR-V and C-HR crossovers.
In Malaysia, it is offered in 2.0-litre petrol and 1.8-litre diesel engine options priced at RM164,059 and RM172,943.60 respectively for the High trim variants.
There is also an entry-level 2.0-litre petrol variant priced at RM143,059 but you don’t get kit like electric sliding glass sunroof, powered tailgate, and front and rear parking sensors (you get a reverse camera instead).
The entry-level CX-30 has less premium kit like bulb-type daytime running lights (instead of LEDs), manual-adjustable fabric seats (instead of powered leather seats with memory function), and manual air-conditioning.
All engines are mated to a SkyActiv Drive six-speed automatic transmission.
Also, all CX-30 variants here are two-wheel drive units.
The high price tags are due to the CX-30 being imported from Japan (meaning it does not qualify for duty incentives offered for locally assembled cars) as well as the lavish appointments and driving technologies in the High trim variants.
The High trim variants get premium safety and driver’s assistance features including Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Lane Keep Assist System (LAS), Driving Attention Alert (DAA), Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) for front and rear, and Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC).
All these tech means the CX-30 can automatically follow, brake and maintain a safe distance from the car in front, and help prevent unintentional lane changes by steering the car back towards the center of the lane, as we found out during a 90km drive from Putrajaya to Kampung Bukit Tinggi, Bentong in Pahang.
The drive was organised by Bermaz Auto Bhd, the distributor of Mazda vehicles in Malaysia, to give the motoring press a better understanding of the new CX-30.
A demonstration of the CX-30’s Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) also impressed us, especially the automatic rear braking.
We drove at a slow 28kph towards a specially set-up obstacle in a parking lot, and as we approached the obstacle without putting our foot on the brake pedal, the car automatically braked and came to a juddering halt.
After that, we reversed the car, and drove backwards towards the obstacle, and once again, the car automatically braked and stopped with a harsh, grating sound.
This automatic rear braking would come in handy when drivers reverse without paying attention to objects behind them. Meanwhile, the CX-30 has an elegant and sleek coupe-like silhouette drawn from Mazda’s Kodo - Soul of Motion design language.
Both our test drive units were the High Trim variants, and stepping into the cabins, we found a premium ambience with leather clad surfaces, soft touch materials, chromed inserts and leather upholstery.
The cabin is well-insulated from engine and external noises, and there is a refined feel to the driving.
Running on Toyo Proxes R56 tyres sized 215/55 R18, handling is very decent on the twisty sections of our route, and while the suspension set-up is on the firm side, road imperfections are well cushioned and we found plenty of comfort.
Like the latest Mazda3, the CX-30 has G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC Plus) technology, which is the upgraded version of Mazda’s vehicle dynamics control technology for improved cornering control.
When we took highway turn-offs and curves at some speed, the CX-30 felt very planted with hardly any body roll.
The electric power steering was light, precise and responsive. Regarding rear passenger space, we had three adults in the SUV and found adequate rear leg and head room for a 1.7m adult.
We didn’t feel cramped seated in the back, and the adjustable rear headrests provided comfortable support.
We found two USB slots - one in the storage box between the front seats, and another below the air-conditioning controls. Luggage capacity is a respectable 430 litres, and the powered rear liftgate provides convenience.
On the way to Kampung Bukit Tinggi, we drove the 1.8-litre diesel engine variant with 114hp/270Nm and while there is abundant muscle at 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm to propel the 1.5-tonne SUV; the acceleration was less than inspiring in terms of Zoom-Zoom excitement.
Throttle response was not thrilling when we stepped hard on the organ-type accelerator pedal.
On the way back to Putrajaya, we took the 2.0-litre petrol engine variant with 162hp/213Nm and found quicker acceleration response to propel the 1.45-tonne SUV, and more "zoom-zoom" fun.
Based on our brief drive, we found a lot to like about the CX-30. It represents a well-appointed and premium choice for those who want a compact SUV that looks sporty yet elegant, and comes with a refined ride quality and good road manners.