This Is Why The Mazda CX-30 Name Makes Sense – And Why It Doesn’t

What's in a name, anyway?

2020 Mazda CX-30

Regardless of intent, the Mazda CX-30 name will create confusion for some customers.

Just what the heck is a “Mazda CX-30”, anyway? After we covered the Geneva reveal of the Mazda CX-30 yesterday, many of you commented on our YouTube video that the name just doesn’t make sense. “The name is stupid, they should have just called it the CX-4. The CX-30 is not better than the CX-9 therefore it shouldn’t have a bigger number,” one of the comments read. “Whoever named that should probably be looking for employment elsewhere,” another one of you said. Regardless of Mazda’s logic here, it’s apparent many of you aren’t fans of the name. To that end, I wanted to share some thoughts on why it makes sense to call it the CX-30 — and why it doesn’t.

In aiding that task, Car and Driver actually pulled Mazda’s U.S. representatives aside to ask that burning question. Why did Mazda choose the CX-30 name in the first place? Why not call it the CX-4, since it sits between the CX-3 and CX-5?

Logically, that would make sense to you me, and the folks at Mazda, actually. The reason they didn’t go with the CX-4 name is that the model is already built in China. What’s more, the Chinese CX-4 is a completely different car to what Mazda’s offering us. On that basis, they couldn’t justify selling two models with the same name in separate markets.

But how did they land on CX-30? According to Car and Driver‘s discussions with Mazda, the company landed on that name from the BT-50 pickup truck. That model is sold in Australia and some other global markets, and has a four-character alphanumeric naming scheme. Mazda took that scheme and applied it to their crossover-based “CX” designation, and voila – the Mazda CX-30.

2020 Mazda CX-30

Here’s why a CX-30 designation makes sense

Putting Mazda’s reasoning aside for a moment, here’s my contention on why this decision makes sense. The CX-30 is a “tweener” crossover — something that exists between the traditional market segments. Think BMW X4 or X6 here. Basically, BMW’s even-numbered “X” vehicles are sporty, coupe-like designs. The odd-numbered models, on the other hand, represent more traditional SUVs.

Like the backwards shifting pattern on BMWs — pull toward you to change up, push away from you to change down — Mazda may have taken some inspiration from BMW in setting its more wagon-shaped crossover away from the likes of the CX-3, CX-5 and CX-9. Mazda could put another in-between model as a spiritual successor to the CX-7 by taking a zero on the end. So, we may see something like the “CX-50” to represent a gap-filler between the CX-5 and CX-9.

2020 Mazda CX-30

And here’s why it doesn’t

Now, let’s bring Mazda’s reasoning back into the equation. You see their reasoning for naming the CX-30, and you’re not convinced. You point out — correctly — that naming the car so closely to the CX-3 will create confusion.

Let’s say your mom is shopping for a new car (as indeed mine is). She wants to buy a small crossover, and is hearing great things about this Mazda CX-30. She walks onto the Mazda dealer’s lot, and spots a new CX-3 right away. “Wait, CX-3, what’s that? Is that different than the CX-30?” That ought to be a fun conversation with the salesman, explaining the difference between the two. Then she’ll ask, “Why are you guys calling it the CX-30? That’s too close to the CX-3!” Not to mention the potential confusion when you’re trying to insure the car and you slip up, calling it a CX-3, or calling your CX-3 a CX-30.

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This is the Mazda CX-3 – not the CX-30. [Photo: Mazda]

Then there’s the discussion in the Mazda community on the CX-7’s return. Long have we awaited the sporty crossover’s return. But on this basis, it won’t be called the CX-7, as that interferes with the precedent set by the CX-30. Will it be called the CX-50, or the CX-70? If Mazda were to call it the new model they just revealed in Geneva the CX-4 and a larger version the CX-6, I think the community would be more accepting.

Here, it seems Mazda is inviting more confusion that it necessarily needed to, as they could have potentially introduced the new CX-30 as the CX-4 in China, and dropped the old one. Or just call both cars the CX-4, since they won’t overlap anyway.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!