The Mazda MX-30 may have a shorter electric driving range than many EVs, but it’s a quality product and good to drive.
Mazda has been slow to join the electric car party but that has now changed with the arrival of the MX-30. The headline that many people will see is that the MX-30 has a shorter driving range than most other EVs, but if people look beyond that they’ll see many good points about the car.
The Mazda MX-30 has a 35.5kWh battery, which is smaller than most rivals, and a 145PS electric motor powering the front wheels.
The body style is a basically a small hatchback, but with an SUV-inspired design and a higher ride height. Although there are four doors and a hatchback, the rear doors are only half the width of a normal door, and they open backwards. This gives an open feel to the interior when both sets of doors are open, but it can be quite difficult to get in and out in a tight space in a car park, and when you’re in, there’s not much space in the rear seats.
The interior is well designed, with interesting elements such as a floating centre console housing the gear selector, and it feels very high quality. The overall colour theme is black and white, with a bit of cork (which was Mazda’s original business) thrown in to the material mix for good measure.
There are USB sockets hidden behind the bottom of the touchscreen, and there’s even a 3-pin plug socket.
Although you don’t get two sets of full-sized doors, you do get a decent-sized boot: 341 litres, which increases to 1,146 litres with the rear seats folded down.
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The benefit of the 35.5kWh battery – and the resultant kerb weight of 1,645 kg – is that this is lighter than most EVs. This helps the MX-30 driving experience to feel more agile, and the car is genuinely enjoyable to drive around town, on the motorway, or on your favourite country roads – despite a lack of Tesla-like performance. The ride quality is also very good, and the steering has a rewarding feel.
All EVs are more refined than petrol and diesel cars, but the MX-30 really does feel very well engineered. However it’s not silent: the powertrain comes with a synthesised noise – presumably so there is a link to the driving experience of a petrol car – which is present most of the time.
Although the MX-30 has the same size battery as the Honda e, whereas the Honda e is rear-wheel drive, the MX-30 is front-wheel drive. The driving experience is very good, but you are left wondering what the MX-30 would be like if it was rear-wheel drive. The likes of Volkswagen and Hyundai/Kia have moved from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive with their EVs, which eliminates wheelspin when accelerating out of junctions in the wet.
Unusually, there are no drive modes. There isn’t even a ‘B’ setting on the gear selector, but there are steering-wheel mounted paddles to allow you to change the level of brake regeneration.
The gear selector is slightly unusual in that rather than pulling it down or pushing it up, from the park position, you move it to the left for reverse.
There’s a head-up display which projects onto the windscreen rather than onto a piece of plastic and it works well.
One of the best bits of the interior is the way you interact with the infotainment system. Unlike most of the latest EVs, which are mostly controlled via buttons hidden in a touchscreen, the MX-30 has a system very similar to BMW’s excellent iDrive, where there’s a rotary dial, complete with shortcut buttons, between the two front seats. This system reduces the amount of button-pressing compared to a touchscreen.
However the central screen itself isn’t very tall – it’s basically in a letterbox format – which means you only see a very shallow map when using satnav.
There are separate controls for heating and ventilation which again is much better than having to delve into a touchscreen to change settings.
The interior designers did seem to miss the memo about making things user-friendly for the driver when it comes to switching off the lane departure warning system. Mazda used to be one of the best in the business for making this easy to switch off with a simple button, but not so in the MX-30, as you have to go searching in the on-screen menus for collision avoidance then you need to untick emergency lane keeping and the lane keep assist system.
Another issue is the buttons on the steering wheel spokes, which are silver with black graphics, which are hard to see in certain poor light conditions.
Finally – you have to manually release the handbrake every time you want to drive off, which is a real pain.
The Mazda MX-30 has an official electric driving range of 124 miles. This is much lower than most of the latest EVs, which generally deliver 200 or even 300-mile ranges. However some good news is that the real-world range proved to be very close to this figure, at 122 miles, and the range went down predictably. Mazda also quotes 165 miles as the WLTP city range.
The MX-30 can be rapid charged using a CCS connector, with a maximum input of 40kW – in other words, you won’t get the full benefit of a 50kW (or more powerful) rapid charger. Charging time to 80 per cent on a 50kW rapid charger takes around 36 minutes, while a full charge on a (7kW) home wall box – when the maximum input is 6.6kW – takes about five hours.
The Mazda MX-30 145PS GT Sport Tech costs £32,845. Our test car had one option of Ceramic Metallic paint with Brilliant Black roof and Dark Grey Metallic side panels (£1,500), taking the total price of our test car to £34,345 – or £31,345 after the plug-in car grant. Trim levels include SE-L Lux, Sport Lux and GT Sport Tech.
Many motorists are likely to avoid considering the Mazda MX-30 because of its short range. However lots of people never drive over 100 miles. And if they drive over 100 miles very occasionally, the good news is that the UK’s public rapid charging infrastructure has improved significantly over recent times. For those who do take the plunge and buy a Mazda MX-30, they will enjoy a car that is good to drive, that feels very well engineered, and has a premium-feel interior. Overall, we should welcome variety in the EV models on sale; the Mazda MX-30 gains a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.