3.9 out of 5 3.9
Parkers overall rating: 3.9 out of 5 3.9

Niche electric SUV coupe majors on style, not range

Mazda MX-30 SUV (20 on) - rated 3.9 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £28,645 - £34,995
Lease from new From £304 p/m View lease deals
Used price £21,885 - £29,040
Used monthly cost From £546 per month
Fuel Economy 3.3 miles/kWh
Insurance group 19 - 20 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Distinctive exterior styling without being polarising
  • High quality interior, with generous equipment levels
  • Enjoyable to drive with nimble, engaging handling

CONS

  • 124-mile combined range limits its appeal
  • Rear seats not particularly spacious for a car this size
  • Few advantages over its most direct rivals

Mazda MX-30 SUV rivals

BMW
i3
3.8 out of 5 3.8

Written by Keith WR Jones on

There's no denying the ever-growing popularity of SUVs, but few are as overtly coupe-like as Mazda's MX-30. But it's that its shape that marks a significant departure for the Japanese brand - this is Mazda's first fully electric car.

Despite the inherent sportiness about the MX-30's looks, it doesn't break new ground in packaging or construction for electric cars. Pillarless Freestyle doors are its most distinctive feature - an idea shared with Mazda's own RX-8 coupe, as well as one of the MX-30's rivals, the venerable BMW i3. They are wide-opening and permit easier access to the rear seats than would be possible if it had a conventional three-door arrangement.

What's its range and charging like?

Nestling under the floor of the MX-30 is a 35.5kWh battery pack, giving a combined range of 124 miles. Mazda justifies this by referring to it as 'right sizing', but this could prove a tricky sell to customers when the rival cars they're considering boast more than 50kWh.

There's a need for an education process here; what matters in the real world is how far you can go and how fast it is to charge on longer trips. Smaller batteries take less time to charge fully, giving you the psychological boost of seeing that maximum range sooner. Seasoned EV drivers are used to 'miles per hour' in a charging sense - battery size doesn't actually change that.

For reference, a full recharge using a 7kW domestic wallbox - something Mazda's offering for free to customers just now - takes around five hours. A 20-80% capacity zap using a 50kW public charger takes just 36 minutes.

Mazda has cut the MX-30 from a different cloth from other battery electric vehicles (BEVs), though. That official range claim of 124 miles extends to a more comfortable 164 miles when its restricted to low-speed urban journeys, helped by its relatively light weight compared with rivals.

What's more, the range indicator doesn't seem laughably optimistic as is the case in other electric cars. Having covered 1,000 miles over a mixture of road types, the distance covered tends to correlate very closely with the drop in range, so you develop confidence and trust in it quickly.

Combine this with the fact that it feels remarkably like a conventional petrol or diesel car to drive - something other brands would do well to take note of - and it becomes easier to see more of the Mazda's appeal, even if it might suit some buyers more as a second car.

Why the small battery?

Mazda's undertaken significant research into the lifespan and environmental costs of producing an electric car, running it and disposing of it when it's reached the end of its useful life. The crossover point where the costs of making a BEV are offset by the costs of running it versus a conventional, fossil-fuel powered car is pushed several years further away by fitting a large battery - meaning, it might be the third owner who is really doing all the good work saving the planet.

The smaller battery means the return on investment - in CO2 terms - is much sooner, thanks to the reduced embedded energy.

Another interestingly styled Mazda

Details follow Mazda's established Kodo design language, but there's plenty to stand out from the CX family of SUVs - not least, the bold, brushed metal Mazda plaque on the rear pillar that feels like it wouldn't be out of place on past innovative designs. Where many BEVs overtly lose their front grilles, the MX-30 simply has a slimmed-down one, looking less alien as a result.

In fact, roofline and doors aside, there's no indication that Mazda's gone down the route of a clean-sheet design or advanced materials to create a focused BEV that takes full advantage of compact motors, different cooling demands and smaller transmissions.

Open the bonnet, and you're greeted by a half-empty engine bay unlike anything we've seen before; the long nose, average overhangs and overall stance could just as easily be hiding a conventional drivetrain. In Japan, that's exactly what some MX-30s are concealing.

Europe will also be getting a range-extender model to use that empty underbonnet space - so it makes sense.

We do feel Mazda's missed a trick, though. a useful feature for the electric-only models would have been a front boot to store the charging cables in.

What models are available?

Mazda is offering three standard grades of MX-30 in the UK - SE-L Lux, Sport Lux and GT Sport Tech, in addition to the launch special First Edition and a rare 100th Anniversary edition.

All models feature 18-inch alloy wheels, three LCD displays - two 7.0-inch panels for instruments and climate control, and an 8.8-inch infotainment and navigation screen, plus a colour head up display as well. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto support is standard, with eight speakers. Electric cars aren't cheap, but there's real value for money to be had here.

SE-L Lux models feature a comprehensive suite of driver aids, including high-beam assist, lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control, plus blind-spot monitoring. The seats are cloth, but you get height adjustment for both front occupants. Sport Lux versions add heated seats with electric adjustment for the driver, keyless entry and piano-black window trim combined with tinted rear windows, plus a different style of wheel.

GT Sport Tech is essentially fully-loaded. You get adaptive LED headlights with upgraded rear LED lights, a 12-speaker Bose sound system, 360-degree camera, upgraded driver assistants including cruising traffic support and front cross traffic alerts, a heated steering wheel and that rare feature in the UK, an electric tilt-slide glass sunroof.

Upgrades available include paint finish - from standard mica/metallic to three-tone with contrasting roof - and on the GT Sport Tech, £200 adds an alternative dark brown and grey upholstery combination.

So what is the MX-30 vying with for your attention and hard-earned cash? As well as the aforementioned i3 hatchback, compact electric SUVs exist in the guises of the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense, Peugeot e-2008 and the Vauxhall Mokka-e.

Click through to read everything you need to know about the Mazda MX-30, including its practicality, interior, how much it costs to run, what it's like to drive – and whether we recommend buying one.

Mazda MX-30 SUV rivals

BMW
i3
3.8 out of 5 3.8