Parkers overall rating: 3.9 out of 5 3.9
  • Not quick if you go by the figures
  • But it feels effortless on the road
  • It comes with some interesting sounds

As a sporty 'MX' car, the MX-30's top speed of 87mph isn't going to impress anyone, except a district magistrate. Taking 9.7 seconds to reach 62mph also won't win many races, but here's the thing; almost every EV 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 an EV, but it's very easy. 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. You can't hear it at 'idle'. In place of the electronic jingles and meditation music usually found on EVs, though, 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 more natural. You never wait for the gear change, because it sounds like a high-revving, but not harsh, engine designed to work that way. There are 'fake' gears - paddles on the wheel to adjust for more, or less engine braking. Again, a more intuitive, natural-feeling approach than just switching it on or off.

If all you've driven is a normal car, the MX-30 will feel reassuringly conventional, even comforting, compared with the beeps, buttons and face-bending power of typical EVs.

The only 'wierdness' is the gearlever - like most EVs you have forward, neutral and reverse; park is engaged by flicking the lever sideways. It's a very physical and easy to use solution, better than the plethora of buttons on some rivals, but it's a new operation to remember. There's an electronic parking brake as well, of course.

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 sub-70mph cruising 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 - for. But that's only half of the equation for getting a good real-world range.

Handling

  • It's comfort rather than handling biased
  • Excellent steering feel for an EV
  • There's not too much bodyroll

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 real surprise in a regular saloon - 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, EVs or not. It's not sporty - it's just really good. Bumps are absorbed well, with few shocks to be found on typical roads and genuinely good traction and stability on damaged country corners.

Body roll 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, let alone plug-in models.