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New Mazda CX-30 SkyActiv-X 2020 review

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Mazda CX-30 SkyActiv-X - front tracking

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9 Sep, 2019 9:30am Neil Briscoe

We find out how the new Mazda CX-30 fares with the eagerly anticipated SkyActiv-X engine

We've already driven the new Mazda 3 with the firm’s clever SkyActiv-X petrol engine. But can this unit deliver in the jacked-up CX-30 as well?

First, a re-cap: The SkyActiv-X is a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated petrol unit that mixes the ignition systems of both conventional diesel and petrol engines into one. Basically, it compresses fuel and air like a diesel, to just before the point of natural ignition. It then uses a tiny extra squirt of petrol, ignited by a small spark plug, to finish the combustion job. Sounds simple, but it has taken the best automotive minds two decades to get this tech to the point where you can buy it.

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Initial impressions are mixed, but this is definitely an engine that needs more time spent with it before all its talents (and demerits) become clear. Should you buy it? Well, it’ll cost you — an extra £1,480 compared with the basic 120bhp ‘mild-hybrid’ SkyActiv-G 2.0-litre petrol CX-30 in SE-L trim, which starts at £22,895.

For that you get an extra 57bhp and 13Nm more torque. Small gains, but, as the SkyActiv-X’s 224Nm of torque comes in earlier, and hangs around longer, it’s more useful than it might sound. You can feel it on the road too — the X engine having noticeably more in-gear punch than the basic motor. Neither is what you’d call lively if you’re used to the turbocharged engines of rivals, however.

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Mazda CX-30 SkyActiv-X - rear tracking

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How about economy, though? That is, after all, the whole point of the SkyActiv-X endeavour. Well, it’s not bad, but perhaps not the magic petrol bullet we were hoping it might be. Over a long drive in the 120bhp version of the regular CX-30, we averaged 45mpg. Over a much shorter test route in the SkyActiv-X, we did 47mpg. Not exactly a thrilling difference for your extra £1,400, but then again it is faster and more powerful.

The emissions rating is an impressive 105g/km on the NEDC2 system, and we missed hitting its official WLTP economy figure in real-world conditions by a tiny amount.

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Realistically, we need to spend a lot more time with the SkyActiv-X engine before we can pronounce a definitive verdict, but it’s promising, that’s for sure. As for the rest of the CX-30, it’s a bit of a gem — good looking, premium-class cabin quality and delightful to drive. Just make sure you try both the available petrol engines (there’s no diesel option) before deciding which one is right for you.

4 Mazda’s clever SkyActiv-X engine has potential, as we’ve seen in the latest Mazda 3. It’s the same story here – or so it seems from this brief encounter. Power, but without the fuel economy penalty? Just maybe. Installed in the CX-30 crossover it makes for a good combination, but it might be that the cheaper SkyActiv-G engine is better for most buyers.

  • Model: Mazda CX-30 SkyActiv-X 2.0 2WD GT Sport
  • Price: £28,875
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl Petrol
  • Power/torque: 177bhp/224Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • Fuel economy/CO2: N/A
  • 0-62mph/Top speed: 8.5secs/127mph
  • On sale: January 2020

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