Mazda MX-30 review
The Mazda MX-30 is stylish, fun to drive and decent value; R-EV plug-in hybrid makes the most sense because the EV version’s range is limited
The Mazda MX-30 came as the Japanese manufacturer’s first toe in the muddy waters of the electric car market, but even in a sector that’s increasingly teeming with rivals, this small electric SUV has no trouble standing out.
Sharp design, unusual rear-hinged doors, an engaging driving experience, and a top-class safety score are the big selling points, but the limited range of the pure electric version and poor rear passenger accommodation will deter many. The R-EV solves the former issue because its petrol-powered rotary engine and plug-in hybrid battery combine to provide up to 400 miles of range. However, the latter is still an issue - especially for families. It’s best to think of the MX-30 as a fun, fashionable city car, or second car, and then it makes much more sense.
About the Mazda MX-30
Mazda has steadfastly avoided doing things by the book with its first pure electric car. The MX-30 uses the firm’s own e-Skyactiv electric drive system and a modest 35.5kWh lithium-ion battery for a range of 124 miles, or - if you’re not quite ready to dive headfirst into EV ownership - a plug-in hybrid R-EV model using a combination of a rotary engine powered by petrol from a 50-litre tank, and an electric motor using a 17.8kWh battery pack to have a total driving range of up to 400 miles.
The rest of the MX-30 is unusual, too. Its rear-hinged rear doors hark back to Mazda’s RX-8 coupe, creating a pillarless cabin that’s a novel proposition in the modern small car market. There are also some unique uses of environmentally friendly materials, such as the cork used on the centre console, helping to underline the car’s green credentials.
The MX-30 slots into the Mazda range as an electric alternative to the CX-30 small SUV. Both are broadly the same size, but the MX-30 swaps the traditional five-door layout for that unorthodox pillarless cabin and a coupe-like roofline that tapers down to the rear. The pair occupy the level below the CX-5 mid-sized SUV in Mazda’s range.
Regarding rivals, the MX-30 theoretically goes up against other small electric SUVs like the Kia Soul EV, Vauxhall Mokka-e and Hyundai Kona Electric. However, these cars employ larger batteries that help them significantly outstrip the MX-30 in terms of range.
Using a smaller battery than most of its EV rivals means the MX-30 costs less, starting around the same level as smaller electric city cars like the Fiat 500, Honda e, and MINI Electric. However, its battery and plug-in hybrid technology make it around £6,000 more expensive than the petrol-powered CX-30.
To maintain the brand’s USP as a maker of driver’s cars, Mazda has built its electric offering around its ‘Jinba Ittai’ ethos to deliver swift reactions to driver inputs. All cars have Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control Plus, which distributes the electric motor’s torque to optimise grip, traction, and stability. That seems to have paid dividends because the MX-30 is a more sprightly drive than your average electric SUV.
The MX-30 line-up consists of three trims: Prime-Line, Exclusive-Line and Makoto. These three equipment grades are identical for the pure EV and R-EV plug-in hybrid models.
All MX-30s get LED headlamps, heated electric folding mirrors, parking sensors at both ends, a reversing camera and rain-sensing wipers. There’s an 8.8” screen for the infotainment system controlled by a simple-to-use central rotary knob and panel of buttons. If you’d rather run an app from your phone, standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity will allow you to do so. Plus, Mazda’s Connected Services with the MyMazda app brings remote control over vehicle functions and relays charging information back to your phone.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Mazda MX-30 is stylish, fun to drive and decent value; R-EV plug-in hybrid makes the most sense because the EV version’s range is limited
- 2Electric motor, drive and performanceWell-judged steering and suspension with lively performance make the MX-30 one of the best small EVs for the driver
- 3Range, charging & running costsThose who need more than the 124-mile range of the EV Mazda MX-30 should get the R-EV with up to 400 miles of range
- 4Interior, design and technologySharp looks and unusual trim materials help the Mazda MX-30 stand out, while technology is impressive
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe unusually-styled MX-30 adds little in the way of practicality and rear legroom is tight, but at least there’s a large boot
- 6Reliability and safetyMazda has equipped the MX-30 with a range of safety systems, contributing to a top 5-star score from Euro NCAP