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The CX-30 in its hero colour, the Soul Red Crystal.

BERMAZ Auto is bringing in more sports utility vehicles for the market.

Some of them are fully-imported, such as CX-3 and CX-9, and some are locally-assembled, like the CX-5 and the CX-8.

However, with the ever-growing lineup of SUVs from Mazda, Bermaz Auto has introduced another addition, the CX-30.

Fresh from the launch last month, the CX-30 arrived in three variants — 2.0 2WD, 2.0 High 2WD and 1.8 Diesel High 2WD — and are priced from RM143,059 to RM172,943.60.

We recently had a drive from Putrajaya to Bukit Tinggi and back behind the wheels of the new 2.0L High 2WD model.

A body of beauty

The CX-30 is positioned between the CX-3 and the CX-5, although the CX-30’s base price is within the CX-5’s price range.

Apart from the fact that the CX-30 is fully imported from Japan and the CX-5 is completely knocked down, there is more than just the assembly status that imposes such prices.

The Mazda CX-30 is also based on the 2019 Mazda3. This sets the Mazda3 and the CX-30 apart from the rest of the models, setting premium prices for them.

With that, there are cues taken from the Mazda3 Liftback. For instance, the gaping front grille, the slender LED headlights and the fine character lines on either sides of the body that curve downward as they go to the rear of the car.

From afar, the Mazda CX-30 looks almost like a raised Mazda3, if you did not notice the plastic claddings on the wheel arches and around the bottom of the car.

Particularly eye-catching is the view from the rear of the CX-30, reminiscent of the gorgeous Alfa Romeo Stelvio.

The styling of the CX-30 is a marriage of art and engineering.

The character lines along the sides manipulate light play on the surface, especially Soul Red Crystal and Machine Grey paints.

Inside, the similarities between the CX-30 and the Mazda3 are more pronounced. They features Mazda’s latest generation infotainment system.

Compared with the older CX-5 and CX-3, this unit here is not a touchscreen and accessible only via the commander control knob on the centre console.

Interior ergonomics are driver-focused with a sporty steering wheel, and when in ideal seating position, all the controls are close to the driver.

Some people might not prefer the cocooned feel in the driver’s seat of the CX-30, but those who love driving will appreciate this attribute, this writer included.

Why CX-30, you may ask and not just CX-4? Well, the CX-4 is a model specific for the Chinese market and a joint-venture project by Mazda and FAW Group.

CX-30 is for markets other than China.

The drive

The first thing I noticed upon driving off the launch venue was how smooth the 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G petrol engine revved through the lower range of the tachometer.

The calibration of the throttle response and transmission shift logic made for a responsive and eager drive, which is expected from the brand.

On the highway, the responsiveness of the transmission was more apparent, with ease of management using your right foot.

The car’s acceleration scales with the throttle input, such as downshifting a gear or two. And with sport mode armed, the transmission will even downshift under regular or hard braking.

This kind of setup not only reduces the use of paddle-shifters, but much sets the car one level higher than the rest of its Japanese rivals.

The steering was sharp and alive too.

Initially, I found myself steering a little too much the first time I took a highway exit, before realising how fast and precise the ratio was.

Once you aligned your muscle memory to suit the car, the drive can be engaging and satisfying.

It is safe to say that the level of precision and finesse of the CX-30’s driving controls is closer to that of German brands, like BMW.

According to Mazda, the CX-30 received the same level of cabin insulation as the Mazda3 but, to me, the NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels of the CX-30 felt to be a tad lower than the Mazda3’s.

The 2.0L High 2WD variant tested gets the advanced safety features, which include Adaptive Front-Lighting System, high beam control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning system, lane-keep assist system, driver attention alert, Smart City Brake Support (front and rear) and Mazda Radar Cruise Control.

Some of the features tested during the drive were the Lane-Keep Assist System, which kept the car in the lane, resisting the steering even when slight input was given.

The rear seats of the Mazda CX-30 were angled for a comfort seating, but it felt more cramped than the rear seats of the Honda HR-V and Subaru XV.

But compared with the Mazda3, the CX-30 is more spacious in the rear, contributed by the bigger windows that are less dramatically-shaped.

The Toyota C-HR has a steep-angled rear window line, but the cabin is airier than the CX-30.

Verdict

Who would buy the CX-30?

Mazda said that despite the CX-30 being positioned between the CX-3 and the CX-5, the crossover is targeted to a unique audience.

Also with a more premium price, Mazda said it was not trying to be on a par with premium automakers. Instead, it wanted to deliver a higher value to CX-30’s customers and it believes the pricing is right.

For one, the CX-30 is for those who adore the Mazda3 (sedan or hatchback) for its stylish design, but want something more mature.

It is also a car for drivers who value a driving sensation and dynamic handling.

The CX-30 is another stylish and refined product from Mazda.

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