The Compact Utility Vehicle segment is growing like crazy but until now Mazda has been on the sidelines. It offers the CX-3 which hits the lower side of the segment, and the CX-5 for the more expensive and larger crossovers. Now it’s stepping up to slot something in between with dynamic driving features and a high-grade feel. The new 2020 CX-30 is the CUV Mazda is looking to bring sales and glory upon itself and possibly light a fire under CX-3.
Mazda says that the CUV segment has grown to almost 800,000 units for 2019. That means it’s big, getting bigger, and is a crowded place to stand out. Mazda has its smaller and larger flavors for the segment but the smaller version has not seen a lot of traction. The CX-3 has seen sales lag around 16,000 units a year, while the CX-5 is seeing much better sales at over 150,000.
Mazda is splitting hairs between its CX-3 and CX-5, and a few others
Mazda is splitting hairs trying to appeal to those looking at Jeep Compass, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, and Nissan Rogue Sport. You know, something a bit nicer but not as big as a three-row or large crossover.
Power comes from the Mazda 3’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder Skyactiv-G engine and six-speed automatic transmission. The engine packs 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. Not Porsche Macan territory, but that’s not necessary for an SUV of this size and weight.
Both i activ all-wheel-drive and G Vectoring Control Plus
All-wheel-drive is also available, as is cylinder deactivation when you order the premium package. The i-activ all-wheel-drive has the ability to decouple from the transmission for fuel economy purposes and adjusts the torque to each wheel from minute ECU inputs. There is also the G Vectoring Control Plus system for added torque vectoring combined with braking.
Fuel economy numbers are average at 25 mpg City and 33 mpg Highway. AWD drops those figures by one mpg each.
Driving dynamics more sport sedan than SUV
Pedal response is supposed to be on a par with the Macan along with a sure, responsive steering feel. You’ll have to give the brake pedal an extra bit of effort but there’s no soft-pedal travel before engagement. Steering is as good as any sports sedan out there.
The body has a nice contemporary feel, but the side sculpturing looks like it has one big wowee in the front doors. The soft concave section transitions out to what you might call a conventional body section. It’s that soft transition that gives it the look of an elephant having backed into the door, leaving a generous indent. Maybe it’s just us.
Mazda isn’t done splitting CUV hairs. A fifth-the MX-5 is coming with all-electric goodness sometime in 2021. It will be Mazda’s first EV. How many of its great sedans will be left by 2022 is anybody’s guess, but we’re in an SUV world now. There isn’t much room for sedans by some accounts. We’ll see if this lasts past then first spike in gas or next recession.