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Mazda MX-30 R-EV long-term test

2023 onwards (change model)
Parkers overall rating: 3.2 out of 53.2

Written by Keith Adams Published: 14 March 2024 Updated: 14 March 2024

Gareth Evans with the Mazda MX-30

If you’re looking for a very alternative take on the small car, then you’ve come to the right long-term test. In this page we’re going to be spending some time with the MX-30 R-EV, which is an electric car with a smaller battery and a little rotary generator to keep the electricity topped up. We’re running it to see if it’s a good fit for our lifestyle, and if range anxiety really does disappear when petrol power returns.

Reports by Gareth Evans

Report 1: Welcome

We usher in life with a range extender plug-in hybrid, Mazda style…

Now here’s an interesting vehicle: a Mazda MX-30 R-EV. Decoding the name, it’s a small electric SUV with a tiny petrol engine used to generate power when the lithium-ion battery runs down.

But it’s no ordinary engine – it’s a rotary, which means instead of the rather complicated pistons and crankshafts in a normal car, it uses an oval engine with a curved triangle rotating inside, which means there are far fewer moving parts. In theory that means easier maintenance, but another advantage is that it’s easier to rev, with less inertia.

This isn’t Mazda’s first go at doing this, with several well-known sports cars of yore featuring the same design, but alas there’s a key difference here. While the RX-7s and later RX-8s of the ‘90s and 2000s had the engine sending power through a gearbox to the rear wheels, the MX-30 sends it to a battery that’s smaller than you get on the regular EV version, but still means a claimed 52 miles of range before petrol power kicks in. You can plug it in, too, meaning (in theory, at least) you’re getting the best of both worlds – petrol range, with EV running costs if you don’t go further than the battery range.

This little logo signifies that there's a rotary engine installed in the Mazda MX-30

This energy is then sent to the front wheels. Sound complicated? I think it probably is, but I’m glad of the peace of mind of the additional range. I don’t have a fast charger at home, or any way to charge on my drive, so an EV doesn’t really work.

Its performance isn’t going to set the world alight, with a 0-62mph time of 9.1 seconds and a top speed of just 87mph, but then again, that’s easily quick enough to get around and the electrical assistance should help with over-taking.

However, I reckon it should steer fairly well for an EV-based vehicle. Its kerb weight is low for a car with a decent-sized battery, at just 1881kg including a 75kg driver.

Will the MX-30 be practical?

I’m not expecting anywhere near the usefulness of the far larger CX-60 I ran before here. This is a small car, and its diminutive boot and pokey rear cabin can’t be expected to pass muster as a family vehicle.

The Mazda MX-30 can't claim to be the most practical car on the fleet

It has what used to be called ‘suicide’ rear doors, too, which open the opposite way to the fronts, as per the above. This is cool for the fact it harks back to the RX-8 sports car in its design, and equally less useful than back doors you can open independently of the front ones…

The boot capacity is 332 litres, which is roughly middling for a vehicle of these dimensions.

What about tech?

You can’t argue with the sheer array of technology on this car. Well, in fact you can, because much of it is voice-controlled, but I hope I won’t need to.

Anyway, highlights from the vast spec sheet include heated front seats and steering wheel, Android Auto, LED lights, keyless entry, a reversing camera, blindspot monitoring, active lane-keeping assist, automatic braking and a driver attention alert.

There’s also a neat app that comes with the car, allowing remote connectivity via a smartphone. That means you can warm it up and even defrost it on cold mornings, all from the comfort of your sofa, because the car remains locked until you get in it.

Mazda MX-30 cabin layout

What spec is this Mazda MX-30?

The car we’re testing is in Exclusive-Line specification, which nets you all of the above safety tech alongside an 8.8-inch screen for the multimedia system, head-up display, a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors.

The climate control works via a touchscreen below the multimedia screen, and I’m very curious to use this and find out if I miss physical buttons.

Its black 18-inch wheels are part of Exclusive-Line trim, along with an auto-dimming driver’s door mirror, tinted rear windows, heated front seats and keyless entry.

So, let’s see how we get on with this innovative new car…

Report 2: First impressions after 2500 miles

After a few thousand miles, Gareth’s found some bits he loves about the MX-30 R-EV, and some bits he doesn’t…

The Mazda MX-30 R-EV steers well and handles brilliantly for a car based on an electric vehicle

I’ve covered a few thousand miles in the MX-30 now, so it’s time for an update. Considering it’s based on an electric vehicle, I’ve been really impressed by the way it drives.

We’ve come to expect this from Mazdas, but it has wonderfully direct steering, balanced and responsive handling, and the ride quality is fantastic. This all adds up to a feeling of lightness that belies the 1881kg kerb weight. It’s a small car, and it feels like it, in the most complimentary way possible.

Its dimensions and design do mean it’s not a brilliant car for a family, though. Those rear doors hamper its practicality – with my driving position the gap between front and rear seats is barely big enough for a human to fit through, and if they can, the tiny tinted rear windows mean hardly any light makes its way back there. We’ve just got a puppy, and plugging him into the rear seatbelt has resulted in some travel sickness, simply because he can’t see out of the car. I can imagine on longer journeys a human would suffer a similar fate.

The rear windows on the Mazda MX-30 are tiny and tinted, which means back seat passengers don't get a lot of light or much visibility of what's going on outside the car

But otherwise, what a fantastic interior the MX-30 has. It’s a lovely design, with nicely laid out controls and loads of technology to play with. I was sceptical about the touchscreen-operated heating and ventilation adjustment, but actually because they get their own dedicated screen, it’s nowhere near as fiddly as other manufacturers’ systems where you need to flick through menus.

I’m a huge fan of the rotary control for the multimedia, too. It’s so intuitive you never have to think about looking at it to switch between the various features.

If you buy a Mazda MX-30 R-EV, prepare to get your hands dirty…

It’s fairly obvious that when you buy any plug-in car, you’ll need to manhandle the cables to plug it into a charging point, and if it’s raining it isn’t a pleasant experience. This isn’t new or unusual.

Putting oil into the Mazda MX-30 R-EV is a fairly regular occurrence within the first few thousand miles

However, there aren’t many new cars out there today that require you to top up the oil within the first few thousand miles. I’ve done this twice on my MX-30, because a rotary power unit consumes a fair amount as it beds itself in, and the car presented me with a ‘top-up oil’ warning on the dash.

This is common for the design of engine, and your dealer will brief you accordingly, leaving a litre of oil in the boot, but it’s something you need to know about: this car is more hands-on than its rivals, and you’ll need to be prepared to open the bonnet and get familiar with the dipstick and oil filler.

Mazda MX-30 R-EV: Scores on the doors

Current mileage2532
Real-world average fuel economy31.4mpg
Official combined fuel economy (WLTP figures)37.2mpg
Parkers ‘MPP’ (Miles Per Pound) calculation5.2-10.3 mpp
Dates tested by ParkersFebruary 2024-April 2024

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