W2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围apphat if you want premium trimmings without the ostentation of a premium badge? The answer is to choose a car from a company that’s knocking on the door of premium status and attempting to challenge the hegemony of the established premium players.
Volvo and Mazda are two such brands; both produce well-rounded cars with beautifully appointed interiors, yet both also enjoy a discreet image that might appeal to those who don’t want to put their fondness for the finer things in life too prominently on display.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appMazda’s new family-sized SUV, the CX-30, looks set to be one of its most popular models. But it’s pitched squarely against the Volvo XC40, one of our favourite cars in this size bracket and a former European Car of the Year. Has the CX-30 got what it takes to topple it?
Mazda CX-30 2.0 Skyactiv-X 180 GT Sport Tech – £29,775 Sleek, stylish and handsome, this top-spec CX-30 comes fully loaded with equipment.
Volvo XC40 T3 R-Design – £30,815 The XC40 is a terrific all-rounder and a deserved 2018 Car of the Year winner – but has it met its match in the Mazda?
Looks and appeal
Mazda CX-30: 4/5 Volvo XC40: 5/5
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThese cars embody two very different approaches to designing an SUV. First up, the Mazda is reminiscent of a hatchback on stilts, specifically its smaller sibling, the 3. That’s no bad thing, for the 3 is a stylish thing, and so it goes with the CX-30, whose smooth curves are soft and organic.
B2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appy contrast, the Volvo is upright, boxy and bluff, its cliff-edge nose giving way to a tall glasshouse and an abruptly curtailed rear end. But while very different to the Mazda, it’s just as appealing, albeit in the vein of a more traditional SUV.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThere’s no doubting that it’s a Volvo, either, with the big chrome grille, tall rear lights and chunky side profile, and with that company’s wholesome, increasingly aspirational image, that can only be a good thing. Mazda, by contrast, can’t yet boast the same sort of desirability – and as attractive as the CX-30 is, it somehow looks more plain, and less upmarket.
Inside, the two cars are much harder to separate. The Mazda’s plush, swooping dashboard and crisp infotainment system certainly look upmarket, and the intuitive layout makes it easy to use. However, once again the XC40 just pips it, thanks to a glossy-looking touchscreen and a virtual gauge display that look just that little bit more upmarket. That said, the way the Volvo forces you to use the touchscreen to adjust the climate control is annoying – the Mazda’s physical controls are less distracting.
Space and comfort
Mazda CX-30: 3/5 Volvo XC40: 5/5
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appFrom the driver’s seat, the two cars’ different approaches are again evident. In the Mazda, you sit low down, ensconced within the car, which feels more sporty. In the Volvo, however, you’re much higher up, with a more commanding view out and better visibility. Which you prefer will depend on your personal taste.
However, the Volvo certainly feels more spacious than the Mazda, with loads of head room and plenty of storage. Not only do you get huge door bins, but also a variety of different-sized cubbies for trinkets large and small. The Mazda offers a decent amount of space, but nowhere near as much.
The same applies in the back seats, where the Volvo feels simply vast. There’s enough head and leg room that even adult occupants can stretch out, and the big windows mean there’s a great view. By contrast the Mazda feels much more claustrophobic, and while your rear seat passengers won’t feel cramped, neither will they have anywhere near as much space.
In the boot it’s a similar story, with the Volvo’s taller, squarer aperture making it more useful. With the rear seats up and the parcel shelf in place, there’s more room, too – though with the seats folded, it’s actually the Mazda that, just, offers more space.
On the road
Mazda CX-30: 4/5 Volvo XC40: 4/5
The Mazda’s biggest downside is its engine. It’s a clever unit that uses a small supercharger and a mild hybrid boost to combine the fuel efficiency of a diesel engine with the smoothness and power of a petrol. Trouble is, it feels far less potent in the real world than it looks on paper, with very little low-down grunt; in fact, you need to really wring its neck to extract its performance.
B2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appy contrast, the Volvo’s more traditional three-cylinder petrol turbo is much punchier, and whether you’re in town or out on the motorway, that makes it both more satisfying and easier to drive. The Volvo’s engine is a touch coarser, but not so much that it’s intrusive – indeed, the thrummy engine note is rather characterful.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appWhere the Volvo falls down is in its ride quality. It isn’t the end of the world, but it can be a pain around town, where it rocks and jostles you from side to side, and fusses over twiddlier bumps. It’s much better once you’re up to cruising speeds, where the Volvo’s quiet, too, which makes it a good long-distance companion – but the Mazda’s ride is more composed all round; while it does feel a little taut at low speeds, it’s much less intrusive than the Volvo’s.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appHappily, both of these cars are great fun to drive; the Mazda feels slightly agile and deft, whereas the Volvo feels secure and planted.
There’s a touch more body lean in the Volvo, but it feels controlled, as though it was designed-in – and it gives you a good sense of how happy the car is to be pushed hard. Meanwhile the Mazda is more adjustable on the throttle and feels just a touch sharper and more responsive, though the Volvo’s progressive, well-weighted steering inspires confidence and makes it feel sturdy and predictable.
Mazda CX-30: 5/5 Volvo XC40: 5/5
It’s incredibly hard to split the Mazda and the Volvo in this section. Both are about as safe as you’d want a modern family car to be, with adult occupant protection scores of 99 and 97 per cent respectively, and child occupant protection scores of 86 and 87 per cent in Euro NCAP crash tests.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appTrue, the Mazda just edges the Volvo by looking after vulnerable road users fractionally better. But both have a full gamut of safety equipment and all of it’s rated well by safety experts.
Costs and Equipment
Mazda CX-30: 5/5 Volvo XC40: 4/5
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appNo two ways about it – the Mazda wins this section by a mile. That’s thanks in part to its lower asking price, but also the fact it comes so well laden with equipment. Mazda really has thrown everything and the kitchen sink. 360-degree cameras, adaptive LED headlights, heated seats, a heated steering wheel and a high-quality Bose sound system all come as standard.
The Volvo misses out on quite a few of these toys, despite costing more, which is a shame. However, it does get a few neat little extras of its own that aren’t available on the Mazda – for example, the virtual gauges we mentioned earlier.
Not only is the Mazda cheaper to buy, but it’s also cheaper to run, with better fuel consumption and lower maintenance costs than the Volvo. However, it is also predicted to lose more of its value, even in cash terms, and this will mitigate, though not cancel out, the Volvo’s higher running costs throughout the duration of your ownership.
It’s worth noting, too, that while the Volvo is costlier than the Mazda to own, it is still cheaper than most of its premium rivals.
Mazda CX-30: 4/5 Volvo XC40: 5/5
Let’s be clear: these are both great family SUVs, and in terms of providing a premium ownership experience without the price tag or badge, both fit the bill extremely well.
However, the Mazda hasn’t quite done enough here to knock the Volvo off its perch. For while it’s comfortable, fun to drive, cheap to buy and run and beautifully finished inside, its small boot and less spacious rear seats make it less well suited as family transport – and its gutless engine is perennially frustrating.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appNot that the Volvo is perfect. Its fidgety ride can be quite tiresome, and it’s expensive to buy. But the former is more easily forgivable than the Mazda’s foibles, and on the latter front, the extra space, greater sense of quality and much more satisfying performance you get with the Volvo all make it worth the extra cost.
BMW X1 sDrive18i M Sport - £32,345
A true premium rival rather than a wannabe, but gosh, don’t you pay for it. This entry-level engine is less potent than either of our test cars’, and the M Sport’s harsh ride is further reason to avoid this version of the X1. Yes, it’s spacious, and yes, it’s pretty good fun to drive – but either of our test cars will be a better all-rounder.
Volkswagen Tiguan 1.5 TSI 150 DSG R-Line - £32,950
You can’t get a manual version of this car, so that auto ’box accounts for some of the extra price. Still not the best value, though, and both the Volvo and the Mazda feel more special. Mind you, this four-cylinder engine is smoother than the former’s, and punchier than the latter’s.
Peugeot 3008 1.6 PureTech 180 EAT8 GT Line - £32,865
Again, a standard auto makes this Peugeot pricey, but its powerful engine, plush interior and smart looks might make it worthwhile. If you could live with the performance deficit, though, we’d be tempted to downgrade to the manual 130 and save a pot of cash – at which point the 3008 looks very attractive.
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