THOSE awfully clever people at Mazda have done it again.

Renowned for its focused approach on pushing the boundaries of petrol engines, the Japanese company has produced a car that not only has proved to be its best-seller here in the UK but also demonstrates yet again its pursuit of engine perfection.

I suspect that the reasons for its sales success are largely down to its manageable size in an SUV market where more bloated examples abound, together with the lovely interior, which is surely a benchmark in this class.

Couple that with decent economy figures and fluid handling that inspires the driver and you have a car that has great appeal.

Based on the Mazda 3 hatchback, the CX-30 comes with a choice of two petrol engines (Mazda gave diesel the boot some time ago over here) and both are naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre units with mild hybrid technology on board.

The initial offering was the 120bhp e-Skyactive G, featuring a high compression ratio. It is available in front-wheel drive only and will deliver fuel economy of somewhere in the mid-forties per gallon.

That has been joined by the really clever e-Skyactiv-X engine, which not only provides the feel of a petrol engine but also the efficiency of a diesel. There's a four-wheel drive offering, too.

The 183bhp e-Skyactiv X gets an increase in torque by 16Nm to 240Nm, an 11g/km reduction in CO2 emissions and a slightly better fuel economy figure.

And it's all down to the updated version of Mazda's unique Skyactiv-X SPCCI Spark Controlled Compression Ignition petrol engine that results in a broader operating band of combustion efficiency.

The CX-30 line-up features nine e-Skyactiv G models in SE-L, SE-L Lux, Sport Lux, GT Sport and GT Sport Tech trim levels with the option to go for an automatic transmission on all models with the exception of the entry-level SE-L. The 12-model e-Skyactiv X range sits across the SE-L Lux, Sport Lux, GT Sport, and GT Tech trim levels with the option of automatic transmission throughout the line-up. From GT Sport upwards there's also the option to choose Mazda's advanced all-wheel drive system.

The six-speed manual gearbox is an absolute joy to operate. It's a short-throw affair that requires only the gentlest of inputs, and will surely be preferable over the automatic version.

The cabin comes with a dashboard that is simplicity itself, and Mazda has wisely separated the climate and audio controls from the smart 8.8-inch touchscreen.

The CX-30 employs a rotary controller to scroll through the menus. DAB radio, Bluetooth, sat-nav and smartphone mirroring are among the features.

The front seats are excellent, with a superb driving position and plenty of adjustment available on the steering column.

All models get rear parking sensors, and there are front sensors and a rear-view camera on all but the entry-level models, together with a bird's eye view camera.

There's fun to be had as you drive the CX-30 along twisty roads. Body lean is minimal and the CX-30 seems to revel in its ability to remain a driver's car despite the SUV limitations.

There's little road noise to be heard and the platform does a decent job in ironing out the vagaries of poor surfaces.

As the little brother of the CX-5, the CX-30 means you get a little less space, but the boot still offers a satisfactory 430 litres of room.

The CX-30 feels expensive because Mazda has paid particular attention to the quality of the interior.

It may well be that despite all the effort that has gone in to creating the engines, it is the sense of wellbeing and comfort that pervades the cabin that will entice potential buyers to take it for a spin. And that should seal the deal.


Mazda CX-30

Price: £22,670 to £33,270

Engine choice: 2.0-litre e-Skyactiv X petrol, producing 183bhp

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 8.5 seconds; top speed 127mph

Economy: 50.4mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 133g/km


Performance: ****

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****