The MX-30 is Mazda’s first all-electric production vehicle & part of an electrification strategy that has already seen the Mazda M Hybrid powertrain fitted as standard to the Mazda3 & Mazda CX-30. Company Car & Van had the opportunity to sample the latest Mazda in the wet & windy Yorkshire Dales & for an electric car, it drives & handles particularly well.
Currently, there are two schools of thought with electric cars; Smaller battery, lower range, more fun to drive vs larger battery, higher range, not so much fun to drive & the MX-30 falls into the former. Powered by a relatively small 35.5kWh battery with a claimed range of 124 miles, it comes with AC charging up to 6.6Kw & DC rapid charging designed to meet 125A Combo Charging standards.
Compared to rivals the MINI electric & Honda e, the MX-30 is actually quite a large car measuring 4.4m in length. It’s built on the same wheelbase as the Mazda CX-30, so is exactly the same length & width as the CX-30, if slightly taller. In effect, it is not a super-mini in stature, but a small SUV, which Mazda believes gives it greater appeal.
The MX-30 is offered in three specifications. SE-L Lux starts things off at £28,545 before the government’s plug-in car grant. It comes with 18″alloys, LED lights, an 8.8″ touchscreen, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. Next up is Sport Lux, costing from £30,545. This adds privacy glass, piano black & chrome trim, heated seats, keyless entry & a more varied colour palette. The range topper is the GT Sport Tech which costs £32,845 & was the model we tested. This features a 12-speaker Bose stereo, power & tilt sunroof, a heated steering wheel & a 360-degree parking camera. And, for a limited time there is also a First Edition offered.
Mazda has long been a CC&V favourite, in offering top-class interiors with some clever touches & the MX-30 doesn’t disappoint. From the floating central binnacle, which features the gear lever, infotainment wheel & electric handbrake, to the separate 7″ climate control touchscreen, which allows the driver to adjust the cars temperature without having to scroll through numerous touchscreen’s, all is cleverly designed & beautifully finished. The use of environmentally-friendly materials, such as cork, vegan leather & recycled plastic bottles is also tastefully incorporated.
Standard interior equipment also includes a windscreen projecting head-up display, one of the best we’ve come across & an 8-way electric adjustable drivers’ seat, so getting comfortable is really easy.
Up front, there’s two large door pockets, a sizeable glove box, two cup holders & an armrest with underneath storage. There’s also a useful storage area underneath the floating centre binnacle, where you’ll find two USB inputs & a single 12v socket. These are quite hard to reach though. Rear passengers get small door pockets & rear seat nets.
Talking of which, the MX-30 may be an SUV in looks, but it doesn’t offer proper rear doors. Mazda have instead repeated the freestyle suicide doors, first seen in the 2002 RX-8, which feature a built in B pillar. Whilst these look fantastic & will work well with younger children, even with a clever electric front seat mover, when an adult sits in the rear, they will struggle to get in & out with any dignity. The rear passenger space is also tight & the black roof headlining fitted to our test car, also makes it feel claustrophobic.
Depending on the model you choose – if you select a car like ours with the Bose infotainment system this will eat into the available boot space – the MX-30 offers 341 to 366 litres of space with the rear seats in place. Fold the rear seats down, they also split 60:40 & this increases to 1,146 to 1,171 litres. There’s no storage space for your charging cable either.
Mazda MX-30 buyers will receive a free wall box home charger, while the car is equipped with both a Type 2 mode 2 charge cable for 3-pin plug charging and a Type 2 mode 3 charge cable for AC charging via home or public charge points. Additionally, the DC socket allows for rapid charging up to 50Kw. In this charge mode a charging time of 30 to 40 minutes can deliver up to 80% battery charge. Using a standard 7.2kWh home charger http://www.rolecserv.com/home-charging will see the MX-30 fully charged in around 5 hours.
Thanks to it’s smaller battery, which only weighs 310kg & the way that it’s cleverly integrated into the vehicle body structure, the MX-30 is an awful lot more fun to drive than most electric cars. Coupled with the fact that this Mazda offers less regenerative breaking than many EV’s, so there’s no discernible one-pedal driving style to save battery range through brake regeneration, the MX-30 feels more rapid & much lighter on it’s feet than the competition.
On a selection of North Yorkshires finest country lanes & when driving in pouring rain, the MX-30 feels nothing but well poised & handled the tight turns & corners we encountered with aplomb. Acceleration is adequate – there’s a total of 143bhp & 271Nm’s on offer – so 62mph is reached in 9.7 seconds, with a top speed of 87mph.
What most impressed us was the ride. In all electric & plug-in cars the addition of a heavy battery underneath the cars floral or rear quarters, really alters the cars handling. Not so with the MX-30. The smaller, lighter battery is barely noticeable & if you select an MX-30, you’ll definitely have fun driving it. And, it also manages the trick of running well over poor road services, doing this in almost complete silence, banishing the poor ride quality offered by almost every other electric car
If you’re looking at an MX-30 as a company car then thanks to it’s zero emissions, you’ll benefit from 1% BIK. And, as with all electric cars, that alone is a compelling reason to choose one.
Mazda offer a strong argument that by producing an electric car with a smaller battery, the MX-30 will reach CO2 compatibility, earlier in it’s life cycle than will happen with other electric cars. That is certainly true. However, for us, the smaller, lighter, battery really shines by making the MX-30 a really great car to drive, with excellent handling & near-perfect road manners, something incredibly rare in any EV. As far as build quality & cool design go, the MX-30 gets five stars out of five, it really is that good. And price wise, it’s competitively priced & offers excellent standard specification & safety features right across the model range.
On the downside, coming with only a 124 mile electric range, when the Hyundai Kona EV & KIA e-Niro offer almost twice that, it may not go far enough on a single charge for many fleet customers. The rear suicide doors also limit the car’s appeal as a family SUV.
As a city electric car, the MX-30 is hard to fault. It’s almost as quirky as the Honda e & drives as well as the MINI electric, it’s two main competitors. It should be more practical than both & it does have more boot space. However, the inclusion of the rear suicide doors, means that it doesn’t offer the most practical solution for rear passengers. From a drivers perspective, it’s brilliant, being one of the best electric cars we’ve driven & that would include the Jaguar I-PACE. Quality wise, it’s more than match for the premium German & Swedish brands, without their premium asking price.
If you can live with the range, we’d highly recommend one
Model: Mazda MX-30 GT Sport Tech
Price: £32,845 before the plug-in grant.
Engine: 35.5kWh battery, single electric motor
Transmission: Single-speed auto, front-wheel drive
0-62mph; 9.7 seconds
Top speed: 87mph
Range/CO2: 124 miles, 0g/km
Charging time: on a standard 7.4kWh home charger, 5 hours.