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

Interesting niche electric car 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 £28,490 - £32,790
Lease from new From £319 p/m View lease deals
Fuel Economy 3.3 miles/kWh
New

PROS

  • Good to look at inside and out
  • Effortless to drive and comfortable ride
  • Wallbox charger thrown in for free

CONS

  • 124-mile range isn't good enough
  • Cramped in the rear
  • A case of style over substance?

Mazda MX-30 SUV rivals

Written by Richard Kilpatrick on

The Mazda MX-30 brings a new, short, coupe-style profile to the market; it's genuinely different to existing electric cars and sporty SUVs, though it doesn't break new ground in packaging or construction. Pillarless doors are the most distinctive feature - shared with the RX-8 and Ford B-Max, and also the BMW i3. They are wide-opening and permit easy access to the rear seats while retaining a three-door look.

This is the first all-electric Mazda to join the range, and with an eye to making the biggest market impact, it's arriving in the shape of a crossover coupe; the burgeoning class of sleek-roof, tall-riding pseudo-SUVs that are taking the place of real, low-slung sports cars for the masses.

There are now three grades to choose from, rather than just the First Edition special run. They're generously equipped and, on paper, offer surprisingly good value.

What's its range and charging like?

The MX-30's 35.5kWh, 124-mile battery is on the small side, for reasons Mazda can justify, but that's not much help when the rivals you're considering boast more than 50kWh. 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 'full' range, but seasoned EV drivers are used to 'miles per hour' in a charging sense - battery size doesn't actually change that.

Mazda has cut the MX-30 from a different cloth to typical EVs, though. That official range claim of 124 miles is the combined figure, with up to 164 miles for city, helped by the relatively light weight of the MX-30 compared with rivals. In our test drive - 50 minutes of mixed roads, fast curves, dual carriageway, hills to climb and congested towns to navigate, it looked on target for delivering that 124 miles.

That's in contrast to rival EVs we've driven that can claim more under test conditions, but in the real world can drop to half of that claimed range. Mazda's engineered the MX-30 to drive differently, and it's a very clever approach to making an electric car seem completely normal.

Why the small battery?

Mazda's done a bit of research into the lifespan and environmental costs of producing an electric car, and running it. The crossover point where the costs of making an EV (much higher) are offset by the costs of running it vs a conventional, fossil-fuel powered car is pushed several years further away by including 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.

It also means it takes less time to show 'full' (regardless of what 'full' means in terms of distance) on a domestic socket - with average journeys being well within the 124-mile range, but drivers preferring to see a full battery every time they drive, it makes sense.

Interesting styling from Mazda... again

Details follow Mazda's 'Kodo' design language, but there's plenty to stand out from the CX family - not least, the bold, brushed metal Mazda badging that feels like it wouldn't be out of place on past innovative designs. Where many EVs 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 EV that takes full advantage of compact motors, different cooling demands and smaller gearboxes.

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 will be concealing.

Europe will be getting a range-extender model to use that empty underbonnet space - so it makes sense. In a global range, the MX-30 is a Freestyle-door coupe sibling for the CX-30, and perhaps if it does well, electric CX-30s will follow. A useful feature for the electric-only UK models might have been to make a box to store the charging cables in. Just a thought...

Specifications and costs

Mazda is offering three grades of MX-30 in the UK - SE-L Lux, Sport Lux and GT Sport Tech, as well as the aforementioned First Edition (which is largely similar to the Sport Lux)

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,

The SE-L Lux features 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 models 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 a stylish two-tone interior with brown vegan leather upgrade.

...but there's also a First Edition model

First Edition models, based on the Sport Lux trim level, come with a light grey cloth and stone leatherette interior, with orange seat stitching. They include the desirable adaptive LED lighting of the GT Sport Tech, and lower-cost paint upgrades.

Ceramic Metallic and Polymetal Grey colours are free of charge (boom boom). But three-tone versions of Ceramic Metallic, and Soul Red, cost more. These cars get a contrasting roof colour, which goes some way in explaining the price increase.

A wallbox home charger is thrown in for free with these models - which should be able to charge the MX-30 from empty in between four and a half to six hours.

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 ordering one.

Mazda MX-30 SUV rivals