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The UK consumer magazine Which? has recently voted the CX30 a Best Buy (see below). The comment about the boot / trunk being only 265 litres is surely an underestimate?

What’s it great at?
You don’t want for standard kit, while the cabin feels very high-quality and nicely built. This is a fun car to drive, with agile handling and precise steering. Safety is a strong suit, too.

What’s it like to drive?
Highly unusually, Mazda has chosen not to equip its engines with a turbocharger. Instead, it’s opted for a relatively large-capacity (2.0-litre) non-turbo engine. This means you need to rev it fairly hard to get the best out of it.

The Skyactiv-X 180hp model we tested is quick enough by class standards but only if you’re prepared to use a lot of engine revs. Low-down torque (pulling power) is somewhat lacking and on uphill stretches of road, you’ll often find yourself needing to change down a gear.

One advantage of the non-turbo format is the sheer smoothness and refinement. Wind noise is very well subdued, too, and only tyre roar at speed lets the side down a little. The six-speed manual gearbox is wonderfully crisp, light and easy to use. Automatic transmission is optional.

The suspension offers good ride comfort over most surfaces, except for poor roads at low speed, when it can feel fidgety.

The CX-30 handles safely and securely, with excellent results in our hazard-avoidance test. We tested the front-wheel drive version, which offers plenty of traction, raising the question as to why you would spend extra on the all-wheel drive option.

The steering is fast-acting and precise, if a little light and lacking in feel around the dead-ahead position. Overall, the CX-30 is much more fun to drive than most SUVs.

The cabin has a pleasantly swoopy design and an excellent feeling of quality. An impressive range of soft-touch materials is spoiled only by some cheap-feeling door trim.

The 8.8-inch central information screen sprouting from the dashboard isn’t a touchscreen, but instead is controlled by a console-mounted rotary knob. This works very well. The menus are all fairly intuitive, although we think the steering wheel is overly cluttered with hard-to-read buttons.

The digital instrument display behind the steering wheel is very clear, while the colour head-up display (standard on all models) is excellent, reducing the need for the driver to look away from the road ahead.

Visibility is poor all -round especially to the rear, where the huge roof pillars really obstruct your view. Luckily all models come with rear parking sensors, and from the SE-L Lux a reversing camera is standard and the GT Sport Tech has a 360-degree surround-view system.

How reliable is it?
The CX-30 hasn’t yet been on the road long enough for us to accurately assess its reliability as a new model. However, if you’re considering buying a Mazda then we have some encouraging news; it’s one of the more reliable brands of cars you can buy.

Mazda is a cut above most when it comes to the dependability of its younger cars – you shouldn’t expect much to go wrong with a car in the first three years of its life.

Looking at the collective experience of Mazda owners with a model less than years old, we found that just one in five (21%) had to get something fixed in the past year. That’s a bit better than the overall average (23%), but what’s more impressive is Mazda's breakdown rate. It's a mere 1.4%, while the average for young cars is more than twice that.

Of the unlucky fifth of owners that did have something go wrong, electrical faults affecting the windows, sunroof or powered mirrors cropped up a few times, but not often enough that we would consider them common.

The vast majority of owners we heard from experienced no faults, and so Mazda earns a full five out of five stars for 0-3 year reliability.

As Mazda’s cars develop a few laughter lines around the headlights, the number of faults increases a little.

Just over four in 10 of Mazda owners with a car aged between three and eight years had to get to a garage in the past year – higher than the average for cars in this age bracket of 36%.

But pushing these figures up is a recall relating to the ECU (Engine Control Unit or management system). And in almost every case we heard about (98%), the owner responded to the recall without actually being affected by the problem. While recalls concerning issues that the consumer has not experienced bring down reliability scores a little, they don't have a major impact.

Other than the recall, there were no common issues. Mazda’s breakdown rate of 2.5% is low compared with the average of 4.6% for cars this old, and those that did go to the garage typically had their car fixed and returned within a couple of days – half a day less than the average fix time.

Big recalls might not sound good, but a good car maker is vigilant and acts on a suspected issue before it affects people, as Mazda has. It loses out on full marks, but Mazda achieves a decent four out of five stars for 3-8 year reliability.

How comfortable and spacious is it?
One of the main advantages of SUVs over conventional hatchbacks is that they’re easy to get into, and this is true for the front and back of the CX-30, despite quite narrow rear door openings.

The cabin is fairly spacious upfront: anyone up to 1.9 metres (6ft 3in) tall will be comfortable. The very wide transmission tunnel does make things feel a bit cramped, though, and makes life difficult for a third rear passenger to sit in the centre.

Rear seat space is disappointing. With the front seats set for six-footers, there’s only enough legroom in the back for people up to 1.75 metres (5ft 9in) tall. Headroom is generous, though.

The boot isn’t big for a crossover of this size: with the variable-height boot floor in its upper position, there’s space for just 265 litres of luggage, although you can fit an extra 45 litres under the floor.

Folding the 60/40 split rear seats liberates 615 litres (to the window line) or 990 litres when loading up to the roof, which is hardly generous for a family car.

The luggage area is impractical in other respects, too. You can’t operate the rear seat folding mechanism from the boot, while the distance from the ground to the load sill is quite high at 74cm.

How economical is it to run?
Mild-hybrid technology is used to boost fuel efficiency. We tested the SkyActiv-X manual front-wheel drive model, which is claimed to average 47.9mpg. In our independent testing, we averaged 44.1mpg - OK by class standards but hardly setting any records.

Claimed fuel use for all-wheel drive models is between 40.4mpg and 43.5mpg, while the less powerful 122hp SkyActiv-G has official fuel use claims ranging from 42.8mpg to 45.6mpg.

Official CO2 emissions are as low as 105g/km (for the model tested), ranging up as high as 128g/km.

How safe is it?
Euro NCAP awarded the CX-30 a full five stars in its crash testing, including a record-breaking 99% score for adult occupant protection.

Standard safety systems on all models include a head-up display, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, lane-keep assist, city brake support and radar cruise control.

The range-topping GT Sport Tech also adds driver attention alert, cruising and traffic support, front cross traffic alert, rear smart city brake and a 360-degree camera.

You can fit up to three child seats in the back, although access could be easier. You can also fit a child seat upfront with the airbag deactivated.

Is there anything I should look out for?
The SkyActiv-X version performs better and is more efficient than the SkyActiv-G. It’s the version we’d choose, even though it costs more.

Should I buy it?
The CX-30 has an impressively broad spread of abilities. It’s fun to drive, agile and very safe. It’s also well equipped and feels great inside, with a high-quality feel. Restricted space in the rear seats and boot mean it’s not the most practical car in its class, but overall it’s a great all-rounder and a Which? Best Buy.
 
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