As an overall happy owner of a 2017 Mazda 6 GT wagon – in black, on the big shadow grey 19s because aw yeah – I'm more than a little glad to see that my few gripes have been addressed in the company's newer models and facelifts.
Gone are the ugly infotainment graphics with its early-2000s design student metal-and-glass look – replaced by a premium and minimalist look with a faster processor and a bigger screen (depending on the model, sure).
Gone is the plastic flip-up, single-colour, fighter-jet head-up display – replaced by a colour image thrown directly onto the windscreen glass.
Gone are my insulation and noise niggles, with the cabin ambience of most new Mazdas now a match for most rivals – and, in the case of the CX-30, probably better than most in the segment.
So, it's a nice thing, as our first few instalments in this CX-30 long-termer series have noted.
Here, though, we look at the new small SUV's potential as a family chariot – and, no surprises, my big ol' 6 still has that one card up its sleeve: space.
Fair enough, too. The CX-30 is a segment down, and even within this small-SUV segment, there are roomier options than Mazda's newest.
Like the Toyota C-HR, the CX-30 prioritises sporty styling over practicality, which is where one might look to the 393- or 437-litre boots of the strong-selling Mitsubishi ASX and Honda HR-V – among others, like the new Kia Seltos and its 433-litre back end – instead of the CX-30's 317-litre space.
The same applies when it comes to space in the second row, with models like the HR-V, ASX (and its new Eclipse Cross sibling), Seltos and ageing Nissan Qashqai all offering a little more room – if not enough to spread out.
|2020 Mazda CX-30 G25 Astina AWD|
|Engine configuration||2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol|
|Power and torque||139kW @ 6000rpm, 252Nm @ 4000rpm|
|Transmission||six-speed automatic (torque converter)|
|Drive type||all-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||6.8L/100km (91 RON)|
|fuel use on test||8.7L/100km|
|Boot volume||317 litres rear seats up (422 with under-floor space combined), 1319 litres when folded|
|Turning circle||10.6 metres|
|ANCAP safety rating||5 stars, tested 2019|
|Towing capacity||1200kg braked, 600kg unbraked – 80kg downball|
Still, as more than a few young families insist on proving, just about any little runabout can serve as a family hauler if you're in just the right time in your brood's growth and configuration.
Indeed, I've walked past my share of small and city-sized hatches – some offering just three doors, let alone a sensible five – with a child seat or two in the back row.
For my family, then, the CX-30 is actually… workable. With a five-year-old son and 2.5-year-old daughter – both in full-frame child seats – the fit for all of us was 'just right'.
Of course, it doesn't take much to throw that balance out. If I were six-feet tall instead of a (perfectly fine thank you very much) five-feet-nine, affording my son's legs some wiggle room might leave my own legs spasming for space.
As it is, though, my preferred driver's seat position works well for both of us – but if he'd picked up a few inches of thigh in the month that we had the CX-30 at Casa Stevens, it might've been an early handover.
But – and this is where we come back to configuration and age – my daughter inherited her bulkier newborn-to-toddler seat from the boy.
If it were in the rear-facing newborn position – its longest form – my five-feet-seven partner would enjoy a lot less comfort in the front passenger seat. (I confess, I did neglect to test this in the CX-30, but my experience with other small cars loaned after my daughter's birth suggests few are well-suited to a laid-down, rear-facing child capsule.)
Likewise, if my son were still using that bulkier seat – which technically accommodates kids up to eight years old – it would position him further forward and leave him and/or my partner with far less leg room.
If you've got older kids, comfort in the rear row will obviously vary by their age and whether they're replacing blown ceiling lights at home without a ladder – but leg room for an average adult or grown teenager will have you ready to upsize soon enough.
If the word Tetris is now cascading through your mind, I'm right there with you. In the CX-30 – and most small cars – it's a game of arranging all of the puzzle pieces just-so.
That's where we come back to the boot and, yes, configuration. If you have two children and no stroller, you're probably fine. Scooters will fit nicely alongside the footy and the picnic basket, with nothing bursting or bending on the way to the park.
Leap to the other end of the spectrum, though – which is where I live for a little while longer – and you might have a bulky double stroller. That, I know from experience and you can learn from my photos, will gobble up space like my boy inhales Fruity Hoops (the slightly less sugarific alternative to my fatmaking old fave, Froot Loops. Find it in the health foods aisle!).
If, like me, you head off to do the grocery shopping without remembering to remove the stroller from the boot, you might find yourself loading half the load onto the floor of the second row.
So, if you do settle on a CX-30 for your young family, you'll fit most of it in – but a roof box would be a clever addition if you're planning a road trip.
Storage is otherwise decent, with twin cupholders in the centre consoles of both rows – the flip-down console of the second row being a handy drink bottle holder, since the integrated flip-out drink holders of our child seats can't fit our kids' CamelBaks.
The rear door- and seat-pockets add the usual space for odds and ends, but there's nothing unusual there – or anything extra to serve high-mounted kids, but that's hardly a feature of any other family car, either.
Getting the kids in and out of their seats – when they're not old enough to do it themselves – is a routine you should look to test before buying a CX-30 or any small car for family needs.
With its low roofline, Mazda's new small SUV could leave you rubbing your noggin' if you're not careful when bending down into the cabin or standing a little too soon when backing out – with a wriggly kid in your arms that you'll be fighting the urge to instinctively drop as you reach for your head.
On the plus side, the rear doors open wide, giving you decent freedom of movement if you've snagged a parents-with-prams spot at the shops.
All of this is to say that for around $30-grand entry into the CX-30 line-up – for the less punchy 114kW/200Nm front-wheel drive G20 2.0-litre petrol, and $43,490 for the all-wheel-drive 139kW/252Nm 2.5-litre Astina model we're testing here – there are more appropriate cars for family buyers.
Not only within the segment, either, but within Mazda's own line-up is the similarly priced CX-5, starting at about $30,000. You'll get fewer features for the money, but the all-important space metric will be a noticeable upgrade.
Still, if you're set on the CX-30, it'll do the job – and, in my view, at this point in my family's growth, it does it well enough.
(I'll stick with my 6, though.)