We're in two minds when it comes to the Mazda MX-30. There's a lot to like about the small SUV, most notably the way it looks both inside and out. There's also a lot to be disappointed by, such as the piffling range, low motor power and sparsely appointed technology.
Picking up on the good stuff, the MX-30 follows Mazda's Kodo design language which is supposed to convey an organic, living creature through the car’s shapes and lines. Part of this, apparently, is to make the bond between driver and car a bit like that between a horse and rider. Fluffy design lingo dealt with, the car undoubtedly looks good against a backdrop of vanilla SUVs from more mainstream manufacturers. Mazda's signature lights are present front and rear, and the low roofline gives the car a certain dynamism.
Doors are usually fairly boring – an open-and-shut case as it were; but not on the MX-30. The front doors open to almost a right-angle of the car's body, and the back doors open rearwards which is cool, good for access, and by also opening to almost a right-angle, make the MX-30's interior uncannily light. The floating centre console features cork liners (a nod to Mazda’s founding as the Toyo Kogyo Cork Company in 1920) and recycled plastics are used for various elements of the interior trim. It looks attractive, like a Minka on wheels.
Until we get to drive the MX-30 we’ll remain on the fence when it comes to the kit that comes with the First Edition, which follows the minimalist principle in that there isn’t much of it. A 7 inch touchscreen air conditioning control panel sits behind the drive shifter. Making up the driver-focussed element of the car is a standard head-up display and 7 inch TFT digital instrument cluster. The First Edition gets Mazda Connect, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and radar-guided cruise.
Where we're not so convinced about the Mazda is with what’s under that attractive bodywork. It is powered by an e-Skyactiv 141bhp motor with 195lb-ft of torque which is sent to the front wheels – figures not dissimilar to the diminutive Honda e. We’d guess this will launch the MX-30 to 62mph in just under 10 seconds. There’s no way to dress up the fact that the battery is small for a car of this size at just 35.5kWh – a couple of kW more than the MINI Electric and aforementioned Honda. We’re also a little disappointed to see that the rear suspension is a torsion-beam setup which, whilst functional, is somewhat behind the more advanced and tuneable multi-link setups favoured by other EV makers.
In official tests the car is good for 124 miles, but throw in a bit of British weather and a motorway or two and it’s easily possible that in real life this could dip below 100. Whilst Mazda contends that for most people, most of the time that will be plenty (which is true), the psychology of range and charging anxiety could make the MX-30 a no-go for many. For most customers, we’d reckon that it’ll be a car that supplements another.
The first 500 buyers who pick up an MX-30 First Edition will qualify for a free home wall box, and the car is equipped with Type 2 and mode 3 charging cables for AC home and public charging duties which it can do at up to just 6.6kW. Using DC charging, the MX-30 can be juiced to 80 per cent in under 40 minutes thanks to a maximum input of 50kW. As you’d expect, one-pedal driving is possible with the regenerative braking cranked up.
Price wise, the Mazda MX-30 First Edition can be secured with an £800 deposit and comes in at £30,495 before the government's newly-revised, £3000 plug-in car grant is applied. The car will be available as standard in brand-favourite colour, Soul Red, or Ceramic Metallic, with each option also coming as standard with the Brilliant Black roof and metallic grey upper side panels. For those who want to splash the cash, it can be had with either £950 three-tone Ceramic Metallic or £1,250 three-tone Soul Red Crystal Metallic. Deliveries will start in early 2021.
We don’t want to have too much of a downer on the MX-30 as it’s an interesting, attractive entrant into the small SUV EV market. We also think that there’s going to be a growing demand for EVs which sacrifice range for affordability and everyday usability. The trouble is that on paper, there are cars that are better than the MX-30 at both of these things, and as a package the MX-30 is almost the manifestation of Mazda’s long-running battle against electrification; a hesitant car by a company hesitant to enter the EV market. That being said, your correspondent is a long-term fan and previous owner of multiple Mazdas so he’s willing the MX-30 to be a hit. We will reserve final judgement until we get our hands on one!