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In-depth reviews

Mazda MX-30 review - Electric motor, drive and performance

Well-judged steering and suspension with lively performance make the MX-30 one of the best small EVs for the driver

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Electric motor, drive and performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£31,250 to £39,050
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​Right across the Mazda range, you’ll find cars that are good to drive, and the MX-30 maintains this track record. The people behind it clearly held the driving experience as a priority, and, for the most part, they delivered the goods.

The Mazda rides very smoothly for an electric vehicle. Unlike the Fiat 500 and Honda e, which tend to fidget at low speeds, the MX-30 absorbs small lumps and bumps well, and exhibits good control over undulations and during cornering. The extra 130kg of weight of the R-EV version means it doesn’t ride as well as the electric version, so you’ll want to avoid bigger potholes and treat larger speed humps with caution because it’ll clang over these if you aren’t careful.

The steering is on the light side at low speeds, which helps when parking. It responds to steering inputs promptly, and as speeds rise, increases weight in a reassuringly linear fashion as you wind on more lock. On twisting roads, the Electric G-Vectoring Control Plus (e-GVC Plus) system works away in the background, adjusting the electric motor’s torque to aid handling. Combined with good reserves of grip, the MX-30 feels reassuringly stable and easy to place.

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There are differing intensities of the MX-30’s regenerative braking system. These are activated via the steering wheel paddle shifters and give varying degrees of regenerative braking when you lift off the accelerator. The car’s braking performance generally feels very natural, with predictable stopping power and pedal feel. The graduated modes are never jerky and mean you can set a level of regenerative braking you’re comfortable with. None of the settings have the one-pedal driving strength of the Nissan e-Pedal system - even the highest setting.

The electronic parking brake has an auto hold function and comes on automatically when you shift into park. However, it doesn’t automatically disengage when you try to pull away, which takes some getting used to. 

0-62mph acceleration and top speed

The e-Skyactiv powertrain in the MX-30 can churn out 143bhp and a maximum torque of 271Nm. That’s a healthy output for a small crossover, but even with the relatively compact 35.5kWh battery, the car still weighs 1,750kg. The R-EV version is even heavier at 1,881kg, although its extra weight is mitigated by the additional power of its 168bhp electric motor.

Both versions feel very lively on the road when accelerating up to 30 or 40mph. The little Mazda steps off the line with vigour and will embarrass far more powerful machines in a spurt away from the lights, as electric cars tend to. Progress is accompanied by an artificial whine that emanates from the cabin speakers and takes on a higher pitch as you go faster. In the EV version, it’s a handy aid to gauge an increase in speed for those of us used to the sound of an internal combustion engine, while in the R-EV model, it helps cover the sound of the rotary petrol engine when it’s running. The augmented sound isn’t too intrusive, which is good because it can’t be turned off. 

After that initial burst, acceleration starts to wane a bit, but a 0-62mph time of 9.7 seconds is perfectly adequate in a car like this, and the 87mph top speed is more than enough for UK roads. The extra power of the R-EV means the overall 0-62mph time drops by 0.6 seconds to 9.1 seconds.

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