The test car we had was in GT Sport trim, fitted with the 180PS (132kW) “SKYACTIVE-X” four-cylinder petrol engine, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. One hundred and eighty horsepower sounds like more than enough for a car with a kerb weight of only 1,542g, but actually this motor feels like the major downer on the CX-30. The power doesn’t come until 6,000rpm – at which point basically any road user has already switched up a cog – and don’t expect the torque to rescue you, oh no. There’s 224Nm (165lb ft) of it, again ample for a middle range family car, but for some reason you won’t find it until 3,000rpm. These might sound like the annoyed pernickety rantings of a motoring journalist looking for speed in an everyday car, but in the real world it presents an actual issue. If you want to get anywhere you need to rev the life out of the CX-30, which gets tiresome very quickly. Try to accelerate in the gear you’ve been cruising in (anything above third) and absolutely nothing is going to happen for a very long time. There’s a real difficult lag period that goes from interesting to irritating in very short order. It will hit 62mph in 8.5 seconds, but it’ll be rattling its way there. While it’s not amazing for performance, this new SKYACTIVE-X tech is quite clever when it comes to efficiency. We won’t go into its fancy tech, but basically this means the CX-30 can easily attain its quoted 47.9mpg.
Thankfully the handling is quite sprightly and there is a very good shift from the six-speed manual, which is fortunate, as you’ll be using it a lot. Actually the ride control is rather impressive on the higher-riding CX-30, with very little roll to be felt through the corners, although this lack of roll is paid off with a tendency to jiggle on less well-finished roads. Keep it in a lower gear, and you’ll find that actually you can have some fun in the CX-30, with an engaging semi-quick steering rack and very little in the way of understeer even in on the front-driven model – unless you start being an idiot. While the ride can be a teeny bit annoying on tighter roads, get up to speed and it all gathers up in much more expected fashion, so longer journeys in the CX-30 are not an issue.