Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5
  • Not quick if you go by the figures
  • But it feels effortless on the road
  • It makes an interesting sound, too

As a sporty ‘MX’ car, the MX-30’s top speed of 87mph isn’t going to impress anyone, except a district magistrate. It’s there to prevent the batteries being rapidly drained by energy sapping high speed runs.

Similarly, taking 9.7 seconds to reach 62mph from a standstill also won’t win many races, but there’s something more important than that.

For those into the numbers, maximum power is 145hp, while 271Nm of torque – your acceleration grunt, in essence – is available the moment you press the pedal.

Almost every electric car review you’ve read will rave about the 0-30mph performance, the way these silent, unassuming cars are embarrassing boy racers in cities everywhere by dumping all their torque out in one go.

Of course you don’t have to do that when driving a BEV, but it’s very easy to do so. Mazda has made it a more deliberate act, reducing the amount of power you consume when driving as a result. The pace is entirely adequate, but you’ve got so much control over it you use it wisely.

Then there’s the engine sound. Yes, you read that right: it has no engine, but it sounds as though it has. You can’t hear it at idle, but once moving, in place of the electronic jingles and meditation music usually found in other electric cars, the MX-30 has a real engine sound – specifically an RX-8 in third gear, using that range from town driving to the limited top speed.

It’s wonderful, subtle and an excellent feedback trick to make your driving feel more natural and progressive. You never wait for the gear change, because it sounds like a high-revving, but not harsh, engine designed to work that way.

Does the MX-30 have a gearbox?

Like other electric cars, the MX-30 has what’s known as a direct drive – essentially a single gear. What this means for you is that you drive it just like an automatic, selecting D to drive forwards, R to reverse. 

What look like gears-changing paddles behind the steering are in fact the vary the braking effect when lifting off the accelerator. There are five settings, and overall the solution feels more intuitive, natural-feeling approach than just switching it on or off as is the case in Nissan’s Leaf.

The gearlever itself feels conventional – like most BEVs you have forward, neutral and reverse; park is engaged by flicking the lever towards you. It’s a very physical and easy to use solution, better than the plethora of buttons on some rivals. There’s an electronic parking brake as well, of course, complete with an auto-hold function, that turns itself off again whenever the car is switched off.

You don’t notice a lack of power, and you can let speed build up, preserving momentum until you need to slow down again. If you’re the kind of driver who thnks about average speed rather than just being the fastest thing on the road, this is the right car for you.

Overtaking may be less confidence-inspiring than the car’s looks would imply, and it’s still a car that encourages a sensible cruising speed on the motorway to preserve range, but aside from that it has enough driving assistants to be near effortless, and enough feedback to be enjoyable with them off.

So power delivery and feedback is much like a good 2.0-litre old-school car, with a touch of Mazda heritage if you know what to look – or listen – out for..

What is the MX-30 like to drive?

  • Engaging handling borders on sportiness
  • Excellent steering and braking feel for a BEV
  • Bodyroll is kept nicely in check

If driving the MX-30 is your first taste of an electric car, it will feel reassuringly conventional, even comforting, compared with the beeps, buttons and face-bending acceleration of other BEVs.

Although it’s not light as such, the MX-30 is relatively svelte – helped by that small battery. Mazda’s also got form when it comes to making cars with accomplished handling, expected on a roadster such as the MX-5, but a surprise in a compact SUV or family – the Mazda 6 is one of the most enjoyable mainstream cars we’ve driven in a long time.

Steering is direct and well-weighted, and it doesn’t have to battle the occasionally intrusive attempts at sporty handling foisted on modern cars. Similarly, the brakes have a lovely progresive feel to them that’s easy to modulate – again, the Leaf can feel almost like an on-off switch in comparisson.

While the handling is engaging and encourages you to build up and maintain speed, it errs towards sportiness, rather than going the whole hog. Consequently, the drive experience is relaxing when you want it to be, involving when you feel the urge.

Bumps are absorbed well, with few shocks to be found on typical roads and genuinely good traction and stability on damaged country corners.

Bodyroll is present, but not excessive – again, part of the natural feedback loop. There’s technical wizadry going on, with clever torque distribution and braking when you really press on, but in normal driving the car just feels more natural and comfortable than many petrol or diesel equivalents.

Job jobbed, Mazda.