Mazda MX-30 GT Sport Tech19 | 03 | 2021Scotcars rating

    Mazda's all-electric MX-30 arrives in right-hand drive form; can it knock the establishment?

    IT’S TAKEN A WHILE — the gestation period has been almost 18 months since I drove the prototype in the Lisbon sun — but now the full right-hand drive production version of Mazda’s first modern-day, all-electric car has arrived. But the question remains: is it any good? (Related: Review — Mazda MX-30 Prototype)

    First, I say “Mazda’s first modern-day, all-electric car” because its first battery-powered concept, the EX-005 micro car, dates back to 1970. That’s more than 50 years ago. More recently — essentially to showcase its technology — it has also made a zero-emission version of the Mazda2 supermini, and even the first-generation MX-5.

    This MX-30 though is noticeably different. In essence it’s an electric ‘coupe SUV’ with a 4.4-metre footprint; that’s similar to the likes of the Skoda Karoq or Seat Ateca. It also aligns with Kia’s medium-sized car, the e-Niro.

    Tell me what the MX-30 basics are

    Let’s deal with price and all-important question of range first. The MX-30 starts at £26,045; that includes not only the Government’s recently reduced plug-in car grant, but also a free home charger. Personally I think it’s an excellent entry price for an all-electric car which, given its styling and practicality, essentially has created its own niche.

    As for range? Well this is where the debate really opens up. Officially, it’ll cover 124 miles on a single charge. In these days of EVs which boast a range of 300+ miles, it’s easy to think “124 miles isn’t enough for me”.

    But think again.


    Why should I think again?

    Having carried out its own research, the average Mazda driver in the UK covers 26 miles a day. In Europe it’s 27. So, the 124-mile range of the MX-30 is perfectly suited, indeed moreso, to cover the average daily drive. In fact, limit the car’s use to city driving, and the range actually increases to 160-miles on a full charge. (Related: Review — Mazda3)

    At the start of my 56-mile test route — on a mixture of A-roads and dual-carriageways — starting and finishing in Malmesbury, the available range read 115 miles. When I returned to base, having completed the route, the available range read 63 miles; four miles more than simply subtracting the 56-mile trip.

    How did that happen?

    Effortless, and simple use of the five-stage brake regeneration system. For those new to electric cars, regenerative braking is a way of taking the wasted energy from the process of slowing down a car and using it to recharge the car's batteries. Take your foot off the accelerator, let the car slow itself, and the harvested energy recharges the battery; clever And obviously, recharging delivers more range.

    The Mazda system can be adjusted with steering wheel-mounted paddles. The five settings range from a full coast to a level which isn’t quite strong enough for one-pedal driving, but is actually pretty close to achieving that.

    Worth highlighting too that even when you have to use the brake pedal, the transition between regeneration and the traditional friction between discs and pads is basically unnoticeable.


    Ok, so what’s it like to drive?

    In a word: fun. Don’t be put off by the perceived “all important 0-62mph time”, which for the MX-30 is a slightly leisurely 9.7secs. It was never meant to be a hot hatch.

    But — and it’s a BIG but — the MX-30 delivers a brilliant blend of sporty handling and a supple ride. It’s a feeling I first enjoyed when I drove the prototype in Lisbon: even then the chassis delivered the nimbleness associated with the sporty MX-5. (Related: Review — Mazda MX-5)

    Mazda has maximised weight distribution, balance centre of gravity pretty much perfectly by spreading the batteries across the full length and width of the chassis.


    What’s it like inside? And those doors …

    Yes, the rear-hinged doors at the back, which means there’s no central B-pillar (the design is a throwback to the old Mazda RX-8 sports car) certainly catch the eye. Externally, I like the rather chunky look of the MX-30. There are aspects of the CX-30 — consider the bold wheelarch cladding — on view, and that’s no bad thing. Even better the fact that the MX-30 sits lower and its overall design is sleeker, all aimed at maximising aerodynamic efficiency.

    The view from the driver’s seat is pretty impressive, and the quality feel is excellent. Ok, there’s an area of rather hard plastic round the gear selector, but otherwise all is well. (Related: Crossing the world's largest lake in a Mazda CX-5)

    It’s also rather environmentally friendly. The seats are trimmed partly in a vegan leather; the grey fabric on the doors is made from recycled bottles; and best of all, the lower sections of the dashboard are finished in cork. Why cork? Well it’s a reference to Mazda’s origins in cork production.

    There’s more good news when it comes to the MX-30’s main infotainment display: it isn’t touch-sensitive. Hallelujah! Instead it’s controlled by a physical click wheel. Ok, the heating and ventilation controls are controlled by a mix of a touchscreen and simple physical rotary knobs, but generally once you have those set, you stick with them. It’s the infotainment system — which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard — which takes the hard use, so thank goodness for the click wheel.


    The rear doors are cool, but what about access?

    To be honest, it takes a wee bit of getting your head round. First, they only open once the fronts are open. So for anyone dropping kids off at school or other classes/practice, it could be a bit of a pain.

    And while kids will be able to squeeze out without the driver needing to move their seat forward, that won’t be the case for teenagers or adults. Because the rear doors are small, the front seats need to be slide forward to maximise rear access. It’s not a major negative, but certainly worth factoring in to any decision-making process when it comes to buying. (Related: Mazda revises CX-5)

    As for rear space, I found I could comfortably sit behind my driving position, and I’m 5ft 7in. It was a bit of a palaver getting in and out, but I was able to sit in the back, close both the rear and front doors, and then re-open them without any real difficulty. There’s certainly space for two adults of three young kids.

    Rear headroom is also fine, despite the MX-30’s cool shallow roofline. As for boot space, you can pack up to 366 litres, or 341 litres in the GT Sport Tech model.


    We haven’t touched on charging speed

    Good point. The 36kWh 35.5kWh battery can be recharged via the car’s 50kW CCS connection. That means a 20-80% charge — which equates to 74 miles of extra range based on the official figures —will take just 36 minutes. A home wall box needs six hours to get it from empty to full. 


    Any details on the full MX-30 model range?

    As I mentioned, the entry-level SE-L Lux starts at £26,045, including the review Government PHEV grant. To be honest, it includes pretty much all you’ll ever need, including the infotainment system I previously mentioned, plus power-folding door mirrors, dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto lights and wipers, and 18in metallic wheels.

    Next up is the mid-grade Sport Lux versions sitting in the middle at £28,045, and adds heated seats, privacy glass, a head-up display, keyless entry and 18in alloys. The range tops-out at £30,345 for the high-spec GT Sport Tech (both prices incl the £2500 Govt Grant). (Related: Mazda3 named Scottish Car of the Year)

    If you want early entry to the MX-30 market, snap up the limited First Edition spec, priced from £28,445. This includes a satin finish side panel, and adaptive LED lights at the front, plus more at the rear.

    Worth highlighting that across the range safety plays a big part, with automatic emergency braking, a driver attention alert system, rear cross-traffic assistance — which applies the brakes if you’re reversing out of your drive and about to enter the path of a car — lane-keeping assistance and blind-spot monitoring all included.


    So, what’s the verdict?

    There’s no denying the MX-30 is an impressive piece of kit. It rides and handles well, has a versatile interior, looks smart, and its styling is different to anything  else in the market. 

    But the nub of the question is, how are you going to use the MX-30? If it’s a car you will essentially use for driving round town — and you’re determined to get an electric vehicle — then the MX-30’s 124-mile range will not be an issue.

    Worth mentioning too it gets the same three years or 60,000 miles warranty as a regular Mazda, plus it also has an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty specifically for the batteries.

    But it’s crucial to view the MX-3- as a lifestyle vehicle rather than a family transport solution. Mazda takes the view — as I do — that if you want to travel long distances, you’ll have a another car. So, essentially the MX-30 slips nicely into that ‘second-car’ segment.

    This current all-electric version will also be joined by a range-extender MX-30, which uses a small petrol engine to charge its battery while you drive, towards the end of the year.

    There are serious alternatives out there — depending on how you view the MX-30 — including the likes of the Kia e-Niro, Peugeot e-2008, or even the Honda-e. But if you want to stand out from the crowd, join the EV bandwagon and can live with a full-charge range of 124-miles, you have to at least test the Mazda. I’d go as far as to say that as a package the MX-30 is the best EV to drive for the money. I love it.


    Related: Three days, 2000kms and a Mazda3 in Eastern Siberia

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    Jim McGill



    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £30,345 (incl. PiCG)
    Engine / Power: 1x electric motor/35.5kWh / 143bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph: 9.7s / Max 87mph
    How big/heavy?: N/a
    How thirsty/CO2?: Range 124-miles
    InsGP/Road tax: N/a
    Alternatives: Kia e-Niro, Peugeot e-2008, Honda-e

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