In-depth reviews

Mazda MX-30 review - Engines, performance and drive

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

Right across the Mazda range you’ll find cars that are good to drive and the brand’s engineers have seen nothing in the switch to electric power to make them deviate from their principles. The people behind the MX-30 clearly held the driving experience as a priority and, for the most part, they’ve delivered the goods.

The Mazda rides very smoothly on its MacPherson strut front suspension and rear torsion beam. It absorbs small lumps and bumps well, while exhibiting good control over undulations and through direction changes. You’ll want to avoid bigger craters and treat larger speed humps with caution because it will clang over these if you aren’t careful.

The steering is on the light side, but the MX-30 responds promptly and in a reassuringly linear fashion as you wind on more lock. On twisting roads, there’s good grip at the front end and the car feels easy to place where you want it. The Electric G-Vectoring Control Plus (e-GVC Plus) system adjusts the motor’s torque to aid stability in the background and the whole package seems to work well. 

In town, the shape of the MX-30 with that relatively long bonnet, small rear side windows and thick C-pillars mean it’s not quite as easy to manoeuvre and park as some other small cars, but parking sensors and a reversing camera offer useful assistance.

There are five modes for the MX-30’s regenerative braking system. These are activated via the steering wheel paddle shifters and give varying levels of regenerative braking when you lift off the throttle. In general, the car’s braking performance feels very natural with predictable stopping power and pedal feel. The graduated modes mean you can set a level of regenerative braking you’re comfortable with, but even the highest setting isn’t jerky when it engages.

The driving position is comfortable, although taller drivers will need their seat quite far back to the point that there’s little legroom behind. 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 and that takes some getting used to.  

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The e-Skyactiv powertrain in the MX-30 can churn out 143bhp and 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 1,645kg.

On the road, this equates to performance that’s very lively 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 according to how much of the available power is being deployed. It’s a handy aid for those of us used to the sound of an internal combustion engine and not 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 so is the 87mph top speed. 

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