Updates to the popular CX-30 range coincide with the addition of this mild-hybrid SP20 Special Edition.

As you’d expect from its moniker, the SP20 Blackout features a heavily black accentuated exterior, dark alloys, and a generally dark-shaded interior that is offset by red stitching. In full Mazda speak, the new model is powered by the e-Skyactiv G 2.0-litre engine with an apparently unique M Hybrid system recovering and storing electricity in its 24V lithium-ion battery.

The built-in control substitutes ICE torque for electric motor torque and is always predicting energy input and output while driving to ensure the most intelligent use of energy when the car is starting, accelerating or coming to a stop. The result is not just improved fuel economy but much smoother take-offs, coasting and braking than a driver could manage unassisted.

It’s a delight to drive at conservative speeds when you can revel in the smoothness and refinement and not give a thought to the modest power on offer. The ride is fundamentally soft and quiet, the transmission always alert, and passing torque adequate. Choose to push on with intent and you soon appreciate the handling benefits of Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control Plus, the vehicle dynamic and motion control system that responds to steering inputs with subtle engine torque and braking changes to provide tighter body control and smoother progress.

To recap, the CX-30 blends some of the practicality of the family-favoured CX-5 with the agility of the smaller CX-3 in a fresh, sharp-suited design. As a two-litre front-driver, the SP20 feels relatively light on its feet, and its compact footprint makes it a cinch to manoeuvre around town, yet it is substantial enough to resist a strong crosswind over the Harbour Bridge.

You step into a semi-command driving position that elevates your eyeline without introducing the head-shake and body-roll that afflict high-riding SUVs. The driver-centric cabin is refreshingly simple in its design and is a polished workspace with super-clear graphics, impressive fit and finish and nice trim detailing. In fact, the combo of comfort, convenience and décor appears above the mainstream. Controls offer a tactile feel and precise response, although the safety-first approach to sat-nav is not the most user-friendly.

The worthwhile MHEV update and en vogue Blackout treatment mean a modest price premium, lifting the RRP to $44,390. That’s still compelling value for an undeniably stylish, right-sized five-door for the real world with advanced tech and a semi-premium feel.



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