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October 7, 2020

The Mazda CX-30 Isn't Like Buying a Refrigerator

These days, buyers opt for Sport Utility Vehicles for one good reason: interior space. Together with ample ground clearance, the flexibility of being able to swallow whatever life throws at it—be it from daily use or family trips has become an important purchase factor among SUV buyers.

While Mazda has designed its “right-sized” CX-30 to be more emotional, they haven’t forgotten the functional aspect. Ryosuke Morishige of Mazda’s Product Strategy Department explains that the CX-30 was designed for long-term use, not limited to a particular stage in one’s life.

Thanks to Mazda’s attention to its packaging—the layout elements that make up a car such as the engine, transmission, and seats—the CX-30 carves out a truly usable interior space. But more than just plain measurements, designers and engineers paid consideration to its usability. It came to a point where they made millimeter adjustments just to take into account how tall a person can sit, and what can be loaded in the luggage compartment.

“First of all, we had a goal of reducing the CX-30’s total length to 4,400-mm or less to make it a compact size that’s easy to drive,” explains Morishige-san. “On top of that, I designed it so that even if a child grows up, it can sit four adults comfortably.”

However, simply increasing the occupant space will exceed the CX-30’s target total length; so, engineers came up with an ingenious solution: raise the rear seats a little. Not only was Mazda able to keep the overall length to 4,395-mm, but also managed to improve the comfort of anyone seated at the back. Of course, designers had to raise the roof a little, but not so much as to break its elegant design.

Pulling this off is possible thanks to the unique way Mazda makes its cars. During the CX-30’s development, a special team was formed encompassing various departments such as design and R&D. From Day 1, everyone was made aware of the 4,400-mm target, and they devised solutions to reach that goal.

Besides the passenger space, Mazda also worked on the usability of the luggage compartment. They made sure it could accommodate various items be it a stroller, suit case or gym bag, but they also paid close attention to the loading height. They made sure it’s easy to load or unload heavy items including boxes that contain prefabricated furniture (hello, IKEA).

Early in the CX-30’s development, Morishige-san and his team came up with a full-scale evaluation model just to verify the usability of the rear seats and luggage compartment.

“It’s not the numbers that determine the ease of use of a car,” says Morishige-san. “We actually sat down in the rear seats, and checked whether the knee room and head room were large enough. In addition, we actually loaded packed luggage into the luggage compartment. We actually made a model that can change the height of the luggage compartment floor with a pedal, like the chair in a beauty salon, so that we could set the optimal height that doesn’t strain the body.”

In the CX-30’s product literature, its cargo compartment is listed as 430 liters, and while this number is important, one number makes it easier to use: the ground clearance to the floor of the luggage compartment. That magic number, in case you’re wondering, is 730 millimeters. 

“When buying a refrigerator, sometimes you choose the one with the larger liter capacity. But when you use it, the usability may not be as you imagined. Storage spaces may not be utilized to the fullest extent when items collide with one another,” says Morishige-san. “It’s the same with a car. The CX-30 is the result of repeated verification in millimeters, imagining how it’ll be used by the customer. Its ease of use cannot be expressed by numerical values alone.”

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