The Mazda MX-30 takes a different approach to most electric cars, focusing on lighter weight, which means a smaller battery, and so a shorter driving range – but a better driving experience.
Mazda, in typical fashion, has taken a different approach to its first EV compared to most other manufacturers, by aiming for a lightweight car in order to achieve a better driving experience, but a lighter battery means a smaller battery, which results in a range of just 124 miles. So should you consider an EV that drives well, but that can’t drive that far without charging?
The MX-30 is an ‘SUV coupe’, which is fashionable, but what may not be seen as practical are the rear ‘suicide’ doors, which are half the normal length, and which open backwards. Despite there being no traditional frame between the front and rear doors, it’s still fairly tight getting into the rear seats, and it’s pretty cramped once you’re in. However the boot is a decent size, at 366 litres, which increases to 1,171 litres with the rear seats folded down.
We think Mazda offers some of the best looking cars that you can buy – such as the Mazda3, the CX-3 and the MX-5 – but in our eyes the MX-30 doesn’t quite achieve the same levels of clean, fuss-free design, with too many straight lines having appeared in the styling.
The interior has some interesting design touches, such as the different layers below the ‘floating’ gear selector, together with cork materials (reflecting Mazda’s origin as a cork manufacturer), and overall the cabin is a very high quality environment.
The Mazda MX-30 has a 35.5kWh battery – the same as in the Honda e – which is small compared to most rivals, and the motor produces just 145PS.
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Mazda makes a big deal about the MX-30 being lighter than most other EVs, and therefore better to drive, and we agree. It still weighs 1,645kg, which is a lot more than an MX-5, but the MX-30 does feel refreshing compared to most other electric cars. Interestingly, the MX-30 launch event took place over some of the same Yorkshire roads as on the Audi e-tron launch, and vivid memories still existed about the weight of the e-tron through some of the bumpy corners near Bolton Abbey, whereas the MX-30 did genuinely feel a lot more agile and fun through the same corners. And the lighter weight – combined with the increased SUV ride height – translates to a comfortable ride, as well as fun handling, although the steering is on the light side.
The MX-30 is front-wheel drive, and many EVs with front-wheel drive – such as the Hyundai Kona – have a lot of torque going through the driven wheels, resulting in wheelspin (Hyundai is now changing to a rear-wheel drive platform with its new IONIQ EV brand). However the same issues don’t impact upon the MX-30 – even in the wet weather of our Yorkshire launch (see photos) – because there’s no surplus of power or acceleration. The result is a very pleasant driving experience, but if you want 0-60mph thrills, best to look elsewhere.
Unusually, there are no drive modes to choose between, but you do have the option to adjust the brake regeneration (five levels) via the paddles hidden behind the steering wheel spokes.
Don’t expect the MX-30 to be super-silent like many EVs, because there’s a synthesised noise that’s designed to sound like a (quiet) engine.
The official driving range of the Mazda MX-30 is 124 miles. This will mean a real-life range of around 100 miles unless driven very carefully. Mazda also quotes the WLTP city range, which is 165 miles.
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.
In the UK there are 350 Mazda MX-30 First Edition models, and SE-L Lux, Sport Lux and GT Sport Tech trim levels. The Mazda MX-30 First Edition costs £27,495 and is based on the SE-L Lux version but with a higher spec that lies somewhere between the Sport Lux and flagship GT Sport Tech models, which weigh in at £29,545 and £29,845 respectively (all prices are after the UK government grant).
The entry-level SE-L Lux that kicks off the range is priced at £25,545 and boasts a good standard equipment level including LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, reversing camera and sat nav. That price undercuts the standard version of the Honda e, but is marginally more than the MINI Electric. Mazda expects the mid-range Sport Lux to be the best seller.
The Mazda MX-30 is a very likeable car and it’s very pleasant to drive. It feels lighter than most other EVs (because it is lighter), with a comfortable ride, and the whole package is very refined. The interior feels upmarket in terms of quality of materials, and creativity has been injected into the design. Compared to the Honda e and the MINI Electric – both of which have similar-sized batteries and electric driving ranges – the MX-30 offers more space and so is more practical – despite the tight rear access. It’s also an SUV, which is what consumers want.
So the above is all good, but you can’t get away from the fact that most EV buyers want the longest possible driving range, and 124 miles – in a car that can cost around £30,000 – is likely to be a barrier to purchase for many people. If the UK’s public charging infrastructure was better – particularly in terms of widespread reliable rapid charging at motorway services (which, thankfully, is now at last due to improve) – then the short range would be less of an issue in many people’s eyes.
But everyone is different, and some people may drive less than 100 miles between charges, in which case they should certainly give the MX-30 a chance. The Mazda MX-30 gains a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.