I ADMIT to being a little puzzled when Mazda revealed the CX-30, after all, it already had the excellent Mazda3 family hatchback and the equally as good CX-3 SUV.
Of course, it soon dawned on me that the new demand was for compact crossover and the Japanese car maker was being quick to take advantage.
It's a busy little sector with premium competitors such as the Volkswagen T-ROC, BMW X2, Mercedes GLA and Audi Q2, as well as mainstream rivals such as the SEAT Ateca, Toyota C-HR and Vauxhall Grandland X.
Happily, the CX-30 is another in a long line of undeniably good cars from Mazda. It looks stylish inside and out and, as you would expect from Mazda, is great to drive.
The most popular variant in the range is undoubtedly the 178bhp 2.0-litre, front-wheel-drive model with a manual gearbox. It costs £29,140 in GT Sport trim.
Available in five trim levels - SE-L, SE-L Lux, Sport Lux, GT Sport and GT Sport Tech - the new CX-30 features generous standard equipment across the entire range, and is being offered in the UK with a choice of two petrol engines, both of which feature Mazda's mild-hybrid system.
The 120bhp 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G engine features cylinder-deactivation and is exclusively matched to front-wheel drive with a choice of automatic or manual transmission across all trim levels.
The new Skyactiv-X petrol engine - which Mazda says has the driver appeal of a petrol along with the efficiency and torque of a diesel - is also offered across all grades with a choice of transmission. From Sport Lux upwards, the Skyactiv-X CX-30 is available with the brand's latest all-wheel drive system.
Mazda claims the 178bhp version delivers emissions as low as 133g/km and fuel economy as high as 47.9mpg though I managed a reasonable 37.9mpg.
Cruising on the motorway, the CX-30 is fairly relaxed and refined while on twisty roads it handles sweetly, with very little body roll. You will need to work the six-speed manual gearbox to get the best out of it, but, like all Mazda's, it's a short, sporty and enjoyable shift. The CX-30 is genuinely fun to drive.
As with the Mazda3, the CX-30 features a generous standard equipment across the range with every car featuring a colour head-up display, power-folding mirrors, rear parking sensors, radar cruise control, LED headlights and a gloss black roof spoiler.
Inside, the CX-30's interior is very similar to that of the Mazda3, which is no bad thing. The layout strikes a good balance between function and style. There's as many buttons as you need for the everyday stuff, yet it still looks uncluttered to the eye.
Premium dark grey cloth with navy blue accents is standard, as is a seven-inch TFT instrument display and an 8.8-inch infotainment screen with navigation and smartphone integration. This is angled nicely towards the driver. There's also a lower rotary controller so you don't have to jab away at the touchscreen if you don't want to.
It's spacious too. At 740mm, the gap between the CX-30's front seats is 50mm greater than in the Mazda CX-3, and on par with that of the CX-5. The spacing allows for a wide floor console and a large centre armrest.
Equally spacious rear seat separation allows for a wide rear centre armrest and door armrests, allowing rear seat occupants to enjoy comfortable, relaxed seating.