Crossovers

The Mazda CX-30 will be a 'new pillar' for the brand

Mazda explains how the CX-30 stands apart from the CX-3 and CX-5.

Mazda

Like most automakers, Mazda is adding more crossovers. The CX-30 debuted at the Geneva Motor Show and slots in between the existing CX-3 subcompact crossover and the CX-5 compact. But is there really enough space between those models for the CX-30 to stand out?

Naohito Saga, Mazda CX-30 program manager, told Roadshow through a translator that the new model will appeal to a different type of customer than the existing models: "Rather than confusing the customers with these three choices, we wanted to make sure that they feel they have a wider variety of choice."

Mazda aims the CX-30 at a new type of customer.

Mazda

"For the US, CX-30 will appeal to people who are still single, or maybe getting engaged or [recently] married or maybe just starting a family. That's the sort of the customer base we have in mind," he said -- especially as Mazda says the CX-30's cargo area is large enough to hold a baby stroller. Still, Americans love to buy big cars: "I know that maybe for average families [in the US] the CX-5 will be the most preferred model."

Compare that to the Mazda CX-3, which is based on the Mazda2 and thus has much reduced passenger and cargo room. Saga says in most markets, that's better suited to singles or empty nesters.

In Europe or Japan, however, buyers might be more accepting of the CX-30 as a family car, said Mazda chief designer Ryo Yanagisawa, also through a translator. "This class of car is not as small in Europe, so we assume family users or two couples," he said. "Adults can be seated comfortably even for a long journey."

With more interior and cargo room, the CX-30's a better fit for families than the teensy, cramped CX-3.

Mazda

Three key design goals

Saga said he and his team designed the Mazda CX-30 based around three principles: Offering maneuverability, comfort and design. The first aspect is obvious just looking at the CX-30: it's 5.9 inches shorter and 1.8 inches narrower than a CX-5, which will pay dividends for owners who drive (and park) in busy urban areas.

As to comfort, Saga said Mazda wanted to make sure that despite its small size, the CX-30 wouldn't feel cramped on the inside. For instance, he said the amount of space separating the driver's and passenger's seat is exactly the same width as in the CX-5. And the rear seat was designed to provide enough headroom for a 6-foot passenger.

And as for design, that's a key way Saga hopes the CX-30 will stand out from some of its rivals. Cars in this class are often bought out of necessity, he said, but with the CX-30, "We have a really beautiful exterior and interior design, and I hope that will be the push to the customer to make them decide, OK, I want to own this car instead of all the competitor cars."

That extends to driving pleasure, too. As it's based on the regular Mazda3 platform, Saga promised the CX-30 will have all the same fun-to-drive characteristics as the company's smaller cars, even despite its extra weight and size.

"This car really gives you a sense of comfort and assurance," he said. "It feels nice to drive and it's less tiring [over] long distances, which American drivers tend to do."

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A new entry point for Mazda

With all that in mind, Saga says the CX-30 is intended be a "pillar" for the Mazda brand. It'll help lure in new customers who, hopefully, will stay loyal to Mazda when they're ready for their next car.

"We'd like to think they'd be enticed to buy the CX-30 when they just have their first child, and when they have a second child and need a bigger car, they move on to a CX-5 -- or a CX-9," Saga said. "Our aim is to nurture this product as one of the main pillars of our product range."

That also goes toward explaining why the model is called CX-30 and not CX-4: To avoid having it seem like simply an evolution of the existing CX-3 or CX-5. "We wanted to have this model stand apart as an independent, separate new pillar product," Saga said. Also, Saga notes that the Chinese-market CX-4 is a completely different model, so using that badge for this vehicle would be confusing to customers.

Will the two-digit naming system extend to other Mazda models in the future? "I can't really say and it's not in my position to say if we'll be selling other two-digit models," Saga said.